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May 26, 1995 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-05-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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`Stumbling At Every Step'

By abandoning plans to confiscate east Jerusalem land,
the Rabin government emerged indecisive and vulnerable.

ERIC SILVER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

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he Israeli government's de-
cision to rescind its confis-
cation policy of Arab-owned
land in east Jerusalem was
a victory for the Middle East peace
process and for Arab diplomacy.
But in the Israeli political are-
na, it left more losers than win-
ners.
Facing the prospect of defeat
on a motion of no confidence, Is-
raeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Ra-
bin bit the bullet. Mr. Rabin's
announcement that the confis-

T

ministration's leadership of be-
ing slapdash.
"The most screwed-up thing in
this government is its decision-
making apparatus," he said. 'The
government is going in the right
direction but insists on stumbling
at almost every step."
Instead of reluctant acquies-
cence, the government's confis-
cation order provoked several
problems: threats of•a renewed'
intifada uprising from main-
stream Palestinian leaders; omi-

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Likud's most vociferous champi-
ons, condemned the party's lead-
ers for "rank opportunism."
In an editorial, which also
scorned Mr. Rabin for his aban-
donment of the expropriation pol-
icy, the English-language daily
stated, "Likud leader Binyamin
Netanyahu ... must learn that
while the opposition's goal is to
replace the government, it should
never consider doing so at any
price. Nor will such moves add to
his popularity. What the public
wants above all else
is not an alternative
plan for the conduct
of foreign policy, but
a leadership of in-
tegrity, principle and
competence. In yes-
terday's Knesset ses-
sion, such leadership

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cations had been referred back to
a ministerial committee was a
face-saving device.
No one expects that Jewish
housing will now be built on the
contentious 134 acres of east
Jerusalem land while the Rabin
government remains in office.
(The first casualties are the 1,000
Orthodox families for whom the
homes were slated.)
Mr. Rabin's supporters main-
tain that he acted to save the
peace process — on which his
prospects of re-election in late
1996 hinge. Yet for all the blus-
ter, the prime minister has
emerged looking weak and inde-
cisive.
His initial mistake was to un-
derestimate the Palestinian, gen-
eral Arab and international
reactions to the expropriation or-
der. Mr. Rabin was a victim of his
own rhetoric — Jerusalem as the
"eternal, undivided capital" of the
Jewish state, a claim the Arabs
have never accepted — and of his
own complacency. The Arabs, he
thought, had bent before and
they would bend again.
Yossi Sarid, who serves as Mr.
Rabin's environmental minister
and represents the left-wing
Meretz party, accused the ad-

nous warnings from King
Hussein that the Jordanian pub-
lic was turning against the peace
agreement that he signed with
Israel last autumn; the conven-
ing of an emergency Arab sum-
mit by King Hassan of Morocco,
another of Israel's friends in the
Arab world; and a 14-to-1 vote
against Israel in the United Na-
tions Security Council.
Domestically, Mr. Rabin left
himself open to charges from his
political opponents that he had
put himself in hock to the two
"non-Zionist" parties that spon-
sored the no-confidence motions
— the Arab Democratic Party
and the Communists, whose five
votes he needs to secure his ma-
jority.
Opponents also charged that
he had sacrificed the Jewish fu-
ture of Jerusalem for the survival
of his government.
The right-wing opposition
fared no better. Enthusiastically
led by the Likud, the right wing
announced that it would support
the no-confidence motions, even
though its position on Jewish ex-
pansion in Jerusalem was dia-
metrically opposed to that of the
Arabs and the Communists.
The Jerusalem Post, one of the

was sorely missing on both sides
of the aisle."
If Mr. Rabin is to retrieve his
credibility, he needs an early
breakthrough in the peace nego-
tiations with the Palestine Lib-
eration Organization. After a
meeting Monday with PLO
Chairman Yasser Arafat, Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres reiterat-
ed Israel's commitment to reach-
ing an agreement on Palestinian
elections and a second Israeli
pullback from occupied territory
by July 1.
It will take all the ingenuity
both sides can muster to meet
that deadline. And a lot more wis-
dom and goodwill. ❑
Eric Silver is a Jerusalem-based
journalist who has covered
Israel for more than two
decades. -

ti

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