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January 12, 1996 - Image 53

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-01-12

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

diates the Palestinian Covenant,
then we can talk."
Shlomo Katan, head of the
Alfei Menashe municipal coun-
cil, sent a letter of welcome to the
new mayor of neighboring Kalk-
ilya. Mr. Katan reportedly said
he would not deal with the PA,
but wanted a working relation-
ship with Kalkilya's mayor for
the sake of "cooperation in mat-
ters of sewage, economics and se-
curity." Mr. Katan was fudging
the issue, though — mayors of
all Palestinian cities identify
with the PA and work hand-in-
glove with it.
The more hardline, activist
wing of the settler leadership
was faced with the question: if
they refuse to come to terms with
spreading Palestinian rule in the
West Bank, how do they plan to
roll it back, or at least stop it in
its tracks?
Nisan Slomiansky, "opera-
tions chief' of the Yesha Coun-
cil, noted, "It's not a secret that
the assassination of Rabin bad-
ly damaged our struggle. It
pushed us back many miles."
The settler movement, and the
right-wing in general, he said,
have been reluctant to return to
the streets. In the aftermath of
Mr. Rabin's murder, the Israeli
public is not in the mood for strife
and turbulence.
But the unpopularity of Prime
Minister Peres' move to trade the
Golan Heights for peace with
Syria, and the settlers' expecta-
tion that Palestinian rule will

"We will lose the
upcoming battles as
long as we insist on
continuing to dream
about past wars."

—Uri Elitzur

loose terror against them, will
rekindle the struggle, Mr. Slo-
miansky said. The objective will
be to elect a right-wing govern-
ment in the October 1996 elec-
tion, and thereby end the chance
for a Palestinian state. Tactics
will be geared to attracting pub-
lic support, and nothing will be
done that might anger Israeli
voters.
"The blocking of road junctions
in Israel [which caused huge traf-
fic jams, and saw protesters
fighting with police] turned a lot
of people off," he said. "But clos-
ing roads in Judea and Samaria
to Arab cars wouldn't affect Is-
raelis. We might be doing some-
thing like this in another month
or so."
Mr. Slomiansky acknowledged
that if terror does not flare up,
the settler movement will have
a hard time arguing against the
peace process. Yehiel Leiter, a

Yesha Council spokesman and
theoretician, said, "The test for
us will be in our ability to convey
the inherent dangers of the Oslo
Accords when there is [a lull in]
terror."
Messrs. Leiter and Slomian-
sky echoed the right-wing senti-
ment that, despite Rabin's
murder and the new realities in
the West Bank, "nothing has
changed" — the Oslo Accords are
as bad as they ever were.
But as tens of thousands of
Palestinians flood the streets to
cheer their new independence
and power, and as Israel's post-
assassination consensus for
peace solidifies, it might be that,
for the West Bank settlers, every-
thing has changed.

Peres Seeks
A Consensus

Los Angeles (JTA) — Describing
himself as "a passionate moder-
ate," Rabbi Shlomo Riskin sees
increasing hope that a working
agreement on Israel's peace pol-
icy can be reached between Jew-
ish settlers in the West Bank and
the government of Prime Minis-
ter Shimon Peres.
Despite the heated rhetoric af-
ter the trauma of Yitzhak Rabin's
assassination, a national con-
sensus can be achieved through
a middle-of-the-road approach,
said Rabbi Riskin, the American-
born Orthodox chief rabbi of the
West Bank settlement of Efrat.
The 55-year-old rabbi gave the
keynote address at the West
Coast convention of the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations
of America, considered the cen-
trist voice of the American Or-
thodox community.
"I've concluded with great sad-
ness, but necessary logic, that Is-
rael should leave Arab-populated
areas," Rabbi Riskin said in an
interview. "At the same time, we
must give the settlers every se-
curity that they're part of Israel.
These norms must be expressed
in political terms, but we cer-
tainly can't leave the field to the
extremists."
Rabbi Riskin said, "Peres is
trying very hard to reach a na-
tional consensus, and he told me
personally that he will not dis-
mantle the settlements."
In his address to the Orthodox
Union, Rabbi Riskin focused on
Yigal Amir, the confessed assas-
sin of Mr. Rabin, and concluded
that he was not a singular aber-
ration in Israeli society.
The ultimate decision on the
future of Israel must come
through democratic choice, rather
than interpretation of God's will,
he added.

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