SE Prestige Package
forces and maintaining the safe-
ty of the -120,000 Israeli settlers
in the West Bank? The answer
appears to be by cajoling the
Palestinians into "bending the
rules" so that each side can quick-
ly have what it desires most:
prompt elections for the Pales-
tinians; maximum security for Is-
The deal that Mr. Rabin of-
fered Mr. Arafat in Oslo is fairly
straightforward: Israel will agree
to Palestinian elections now if the
Palestinians agree to the tempo-
rary withdrawal of Israeli troops
from the West Bank's population
centers for the few days during
which the elections take place.
This would be followed by nego-
tiations on the army's redeploy-
ment for the remainder of the
five-year interim period. The
alternative — should the Pales-
tinians insist on the IDF's final
redeployment as a precondition
to elections — is to delay the vote
for about a year.
In a nutshell, Israel's short-
term solution to the excru-
ciatingly sticky problem of
redeployment is to postpone it for
a sunny day.
But when and whether that
sunny day will dawn brings us
back to the second half of the
"trap": Mr. Arafat's political sur-
vival. It's no secret that the Pales-
tinians on the rest of the West
If the Israel-PLO
how will we know?
Bank are no less eager to say
goodbye to the Israeli army than
their compatriots in Jericho were
five months ago. Thus agreeing
to the post-election return of the
IDF Nablus and Ramallah, Beth-
lehem and Hebron (if, indeed,
they leave Hebron for even a few
days) is likely to be a prescription
for the defeat of Mr. Arafat's
Fatah candidates. It could also
spell defeat for Mr. Arafat him-
self, who will probably run in a
direct election for the chairman-
ship of the Palestine National
Not surprisingly, Mr. Arafat's
initial response to Mr. Rabin's
post-prize proposal was an em-
phatic "No way."
"It's difficult, perhaps impos-
sible to carry out the next stage
[of the DoP] and at the same time
not detract from the security of
the Israelis," columnist Uzi Ben-
ziman said this week. "A decision
must be made: either a far-
reaching Israeli concession (the
evacuation of settlements) that
will improve Mr. Arafat's chances
of exercising his authority, or a
PLO concession (holding elections
without the IDF's withdrawal
from the cities) that will only
worsen Mr. Arafat's position, or
Israel reconciling itself to an
impairment of its security (the
withdrawal of the IDF from all
the urban centers)."
It appears that Messrs. Rabin
and Peres have made the deci-
sion to risk Mr. Arafat's neck (at
least politically speaking) rather
than their own. And it's a logical
one from the standpoint of men
who must face an election them-
selves. But whether or not it's the
best strategic decision by Israel's
two leading statesmen, and Noble
Peace Laureates, remains moot.
One clue to the answer would
be some notion of what Messrs.
Rabin, Peres and the rest of the
Israel government have in mind
as the ultimate settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict —
meaning the final borders be-
tween Israel and the "Palestin-
ian entity" and the fate of many
of the West Bank settlements.
But so far, for tactical reasons or
otherwise, they seem fully deter-
mined to provide little more on
this subject than hints, denials,
and contradictions — in short,
the continued production of lots
of smoke. ❑
Jerusalem (JTA) — The Israeli
government has resolved to take
steps to combat the growing
trend of violence against women
in Israeli society.
At a special Knesset session
devoted to the issue, timed to co-
incide with an international day
of protest against violence di-
rected at women, dozens of Knes-
set members took to the podium
to discuss the issue and make
Labor and Social Affairs Min-
ister Ora Namir of the Labor Par-
ty said her ministry has
established 10 regional counsel-
ing centers for troubled couples
and that the centers have worked
with 1,200 couples so far this
She also said that financial
support for battered women's
shelters has increased dramati-
cally over the past two years.
Among the other speakers was
Naomi Chazan of Meretz, who
has introduced a bill that would
recognize extenuating circum-
stances in murder cases stem-
ming from domestic abuse.
She said the idea for the bill
arose from two recent cases.
In one case, a son killed his fa-
ther, who had been abusing his
mother for years. The other case
involved a woman who murdered
her husband, who had also been
abusing her. Both individuals are
currently in jail.
"Up to now there has been a
compulsory 25-year life sentence
for murder, but there has not
been an ability to take into ac-
count special circumstances," Ms.
Chazan told Israel Radio.
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