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September 26, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-26

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

This Week

Analysis

Tunnel Vision

As Sharon provides neither peace nor security,
Labor sees an opening.

LESLIE SUSSER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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760050

fter almost a year of bum-
bling incompetence, the
Israeli left seems to be get-
ting its groove back.
Several signs point to a new sense of
political vitality in the opposition
Labor Party:
• There's a sharp new tone in the
left's criticism of the government's
peace and economic policies.
• Labor is discussing a political
merger with the One Nation Party of
Histadrut labor leader Amir Peretz,
creating a stronger oppositionist
front.
• Newly confident Labor leaders
insist that Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon eventually will have to get
back to the Oslo peace process they
initiated, or make way for someone
who will.
• Last weekend, for the first time in
years, Labor leaders participated in an
anti-government Peace Now demon-
stration.
In addition, the fact that Sharon is
under fire in his own Likud Party
gives new hope and energy to his
opponents on the left.
The developments come in sharp
contrast to the year of confused
lethargy that beset Labor after it lost
successive elections in 2001 and 2003
by landslides, and to the Palestinian
intifada (uprising), which made a
mockery of Labor's peace ideology.
Indeed, as part of a Likud-led
national unity government for 20
months starting in March 2001,
Labor seemed to forfeit what was left
of its separate political identity. The
Sharon government's difficulties with
coming to grips with the key issues
on Israel's agenda now are paving the
way for Labor's revival.
After more than 2V2 years in office,
Sharon has not been able to turn the
economy around or bring the peace
and security he promised in his elec-
tion campaigns. He also has yet to
finish the long-awaited security fence.
Analysts speak of a dark mood in
the country because of the govern-
ment's inability to point to any signif-

Shirnon Peres, leader of the Labor
Party and Israeli opposition, shake
hands with Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon as Bill Clinton looks on
,following; a gala in Tel Aviv marki;
it. 21. A
Peres' 80th birthday on v
parade of global figures, film Clinton
and Mikhail Gorbachev to U.S.
actress Kathleen Turner, caw
to help mark the 80th birth
Peres.

icant light at the end of the tunnel.
Without a peace agreement in sight
and with emergency budget cuts
threatening to impoverish more
Israelis, the opposition is starting to
make its presence felt.

New Coalition?

To give itself a more compassionate
image, Labor is angling for a merger
with Peretz's worker-oriented One
Nation. With the charismatic, social-
ly-concerned Peretz back in the fold,
Labor leaders hope to make a stronger
case against the government's eco-
nomic policy — which they depict as
enriching the rich and impoverishing
the poor — and appeal to a wider
electorate.
In a large demonstration Saturday
night, Labor, Meretz and Peace Now
leaders focused on the government's
failure to bring peace or security,
drawing a direct link between the
security situation and the beleaguered
economy.
Labor leaders contend that the jury
is still out on Oslo, but they say the
right-wing thesis of force against the
Palestinians hasn't proved itself either.
Labor's alternative — separation from
the Palestinians with or without an
agreement, and as soon as possible —
seems to be striking a more receptive

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