Reaping what they have sown
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Reaping what they have sown

January 22, 2001

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election."

Clinton departed Washington Saturday after giving Israel Presidential statements for still more billions in the next eight years as well as a new high-tech fighter/bomber never yet provided to any other country. Literally as Bush took the oath of office American jets bombed Iraq, killing six more -- the new President having noted that "we will deal with Iraq" in a pre-inaugural interview. And at the same time Clinton was going and Bush was coming the Barak government announced round-the-clock negotiations with the Arafat regime desperately looking for any possible way to head off the sweeping Sharon victory expected in just a few weeks now.

Barak and the Labor party are now reeping what they themselves have sown. Whatever the merits of the current arguments, whatever the realities and dangers of Sharon, there's not much credibility left for those who have for so long practiced the art of gross political deception and chicanery -- both with their own people as well as with the Palestinians.

And down the road the Americans may well face a similar fate as they too will eventually have to pay a price for their many duplicitous, repressive, and blood-drenched deeds. They too will one day reap what they have sown. What the CIA and the American military have been able to get away with in past decades has set the stage for ongoing regional turmoil, growing disallusionment, violence, and bloodshed.


"If a deal is somehow reached before the election, the entire dynamic of the campaign could change."

JERUSALEM (AP - Jan 20) - Running out of options fast, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak now hopes the ``painful truth'' will get him re-elected.

Trying a new, blunt, go-for-broke approach, Barak has been telling Israelis this week that it's time to discard illusions - that for peace, Israel must give up more than 90 percent of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem, dismantle settlements, and negotiate with the Palestinians even under fire.

``I have decided to end once and forever the reality in which (Israel's) leaders mislead the public,'' Barak told TV viewers. ``The truth hurts, but the public is mature and will be able to handle the painful truth.''

Maybe not, suggest the polls, where Barak trails hawkish challenger Ariel Sharon by some 20 percent - unprecedented this close to an election and doubly surprising given Sharon's controversial past.

In the past decade, the complexities of the peace process and its accompanying violence have managed in one way or another to fell four successive Israeli prime ministers, from Yitzhak Shamir to Benjamin Netanyahu, regardless of whether they are hawks or doves.

Now Israelis look set to turn hawkish again by electing the Likud Party's Sharon.

Barak's key problem ahead of the Feb. 6 vote is that what many Israelis perceive as his generous offers to date not only were rejected but also met with a four-month Palestinian uprising that has killed hundreds of people and left the security and economic cooperation of the 1990s interim accords in ruin.

``The last months have not increased Israelis' belief that the Palestinians will keep their commitments in a peace agreement,'' said Barry Rubin, an Israeli analyst.

Since July, Barak has agreed to a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza, and a Palestinian capital in the Arab part of Jerusalem. He also agreed to dismantle many Jewish settlements deep in Palestinian territory while annexing blocs of others close to Israel - giving the Palestinians a swath of Israeli desert in return. And he has dropped Israel's demand to hold onto the strategic Jordan River Valley.

These are breathtaking concessions by Israel's standards, but they leave two huge issues unresolved: control of Jerusalem's holy sites and the Palestinian demand for the right to return to homes they lost when Israel came into being in 1948. Barak refuses even to discuss the latter demand, believing like most Israelis that millions of returning Palestinians would swamp the country's 5 million Jews.

Most of the victims of the violence that erupted in late September are Palestinian, and Israeli travel restrictions have disrupted every aspect of Palestinian life. What matters most to Israeli voters, however, is the bombs that explode in their cities, the Jewish settlers gunned down on the roads and, this weekend, the killing of a 16-year-old boy who apparently was lured to his murderers over the Internet.

Many Israelis have criticized Barak's agreement to go on negotiating under such circumstances - and at the height of an election campaign.

The proud - some say arrogant - Barak insists there is no alternative and describes the fighting as the ``probably inevitable'' endgame of tough negotiations.

Barak and his top Cabinet ministers on Saturday agreed to hold marathon talks with the Palestinians in Egypt. The new talks were expected to start Sunday night in an isolated area outside Cairo, or in the Red Sea resort of Taba.

If a deal is somehow reached before the election, the entire dynamic of the campaign could change.

But for now, Barak is hobbled among some key constituencies:

The 1.2 million Israeli Arabs who helped propel him to victory in 1999 and now are outraged that 13 of their number were gunned down by Israeli police in October during protests in support of their Palestinian brethren.

Jewish leftists, angry that it took Barak so long to make the concessions they regard as essential for peace, and that he failed to deliver on promises to curb the power of religious parties.

Centrists alarmed at the extent of his concessions to the Palestinians.

A grass-roots campaign has sprung up to replace Barak with dovish elder statesman Shimon Peres. Polls show Peres matching or even overtaking Sharon, aided largely by the probable support of the Israeli Arabs.

While Barak struggles to explain his concessions, keep Peres at bay and mollify Israeli Arab voters, Sharon presents himself as a kindly grandfather who will somehow get more from the Palestinians and give less.

A Sharon plan leaked to the Haaretz newspaper this week speaks of allowing a Palestinian state only in islands of disconnected territory, of maintaining the settlements and conceding nothing in Jerusalem.

``I will bring peace,'' Sharon nonetheless promises. ``For 52 years all of us in Israel have been fighting to live in peace. We need peace. We need security. We must have both together.''

Sharon, a constant and powerful patron of the settler movement, also plays to a yearning for national unity by promising to invite Barak into his government.

Barak's TV campaign hammers away at Sharon's record of consistently opposing earlier Mideast peace accords. He is reminding voters that Sharon, as defense minister, launched the bloody and unpopular invasion of Lebanon to expel the PLO in 1982.

Sharon stepped down as defense minister a year later after a commission of inquiry found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon by an Israeli-allied Christian militia.

Israel's ordeal in Lebanon ended only last May, when Barak ordered a unilateral pullout from the strip Israel occupied in the south of the country.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director

[IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis - 20 January)]: Israel Radio senior diplomatic correspondent Yoni Ben Menachem reported this evening that a senior source in Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office says the purpose of the ten days of Israeli-Palestinian marathon talks staring on Sunday at Taba is to neutralize the Israeli Left.

The source explained that Barak plans to veer Right in the last days of the campaign (when it is too late for Shimon Peres to replace him) in order to garner more of the undecided votes. Barak will point to the failed talks and present his plans for unilateral actions, asking for public support. Barak believes that the Left will be unable to criticize this move after top leaders of the Left, including Beilin and Sarid, fail to reach a deal at Taba.

Many analysts believe that Arafat plans to negotiate with the Barak team as long as Israel continues to make additional concessions. Concessions it hopes to set as Israel's opening position in further negotiations. Over the weekend the Palestinians reported "progress" in the form of additional Israeli territorial concessions but the Prime Minister's Office denied them to Israel Radio.

While many observers point to the right of return as the issue that will ultimately bury the talks, this is far from clear since a politically workable resolution of the issue is possible if the politicians are convinced that they can rely on the sophistication of the Palestinian community and the naivete of the Israeli public.

A "Beilin type" of solution would have several points:

+ Israel agrees to the return of Palestinian refugees to within the Green Line within the framework of "family reunification" and "humanitarian considerations" without defining what constitutes a "family" (nuclear, cousins, etc.), "humanitarian", or setting a numerical cap.

+ Israel recognizes the application of Resolution 194 (right of return) as being implement through the agreement.

+ The Palestinians agree to declaring the end of the conflict AFTER Israel has satisfactorily implemented the agreement.

The Israeli side can explain that they are confident that the agreement means the immigration of a small number of refugees into Israel, noting the many Palestinian "winks" and "off the record promises" that this was the unwritten understanding. This would be consistent with the seven years of such Palestinain communications.

On the other hand, the Palestinian side can point to the land gained and reassure their public that they will only declare an end of the conflict when they are satisfied that Israel has satisfactorily implemented 194 via the agreement.

The Palestinian leadership can note that when they determine that Israel has failed to honor its obligations that they will be able to pursue other options from a far stronger position against Israel than it enjoys today (as evidenced by Chief of Staff General Mofaz's warning that the Clinton plan withdraws Israel to indefensible borders).

Would the Israeli public be so naive? Some believe that a combination of heavy media support for a deal plus the notoriously short Israeli attention span might make such a move possible.

As for the Palestinian side, success depends on the willingness of opposition forces to cooperate. In the past, Hamas leadership has cooperated from time to time when it was clear that short term cooperation would yield significant Israeli concessions. In addition, the Palestinian leadership can even publicly spell out their plans to the Palestinian public without having to worry that this may undermine Israeli support for the agreement as the Israelis will excuse the talk as being "for domestic consumption."

By Howard Goller

JERUSALEM, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election.

Trailing rightist Likud party leader Ariel Sharon by double digits, Barak was asked repeatedly whether he would abandon the race against Sharon to his Labour Party comrade, Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.

"I'm not prepared to deal with this issue," Barak said.

The interview reached a nadir when his Army Radio host Razi Barkai asked whether Barak would drop out of politics if he lost the election.

Barak complained he was not being given the time he needed to answer the questions.

Having reached half past the hour, Barkai promised to continue talking to Barak after a news bulletin.

"So if you are ready, just to listen to the news bulletin, I will immediately get back to you," Barkai said.

"I am not ready, thank you," Barak snapped. "I am not going to continue," he said -- and cut short the conversation.

Barak agreed to resume the telephone interview a short time later, but the incident raised more questions than it answered.

"He speaks from the heart," his campaign adviser Eldad Yaniv told Army Radio later. Yaniv said interviewers should be asking the candidates about more serious issues at so critical a time in the country's history.

Barak has come under fire from leftist politicians who prefer Peres over him and from right-wingers who accuse him of launching marathon talks on Sunday in hopes of forging a peace deal with the Palestinians to save his political skin.

"Are you asking the candidates the serious questions they must be asked and not the tasty bits?" Yaniv asked his interviewer.

"'Peres yes?' 'Peres no?' Indeed the prime minister has announced he will run until the end, so he will run to the end. There's no point in asking that question day and night."


Underscoring Barak's problems, advisers to Sharon said their candidate would not be bound by any Palestinian peace deal Barak might reach in up to 10 days of ministerial-level talks due to begin late on Sunday in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Taba.

"He has no mandate to do what he is doing now. All these talks in Taba are simply regrettable because they bring about a situation where he does everything to save his seat," Sharon's campaign adviser Silvan Shalom told Army Radio.

"Any paper Ehud Barak will sign with the Palestinians now a week before the elections in our view doesn't bind us," he said.

A peace deal could boost Barak's re-election hopes -- or hurt him if voters believed he had made too many concessions.

The ballot is being held against the backdrop of almost four months of bloodshed in which at least 309 Palestinians, 45 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed.

Barak insisted in his radio interview: "We intend to win these elections despite the polls." Justice Minister Yossi Beilin predicted the Sharon-Barak gap would narrow with the approach of the election.

Barak lost his coalition majority in July over his willingness to make compromises with Palestinians and resigned under pressure in December to pave the way for elections more than two years before the end of his term.

Sharon opposes concessions favoured by Barak in talks with the Palestinians.

"It must be clear to the Israelis, to the Palestinians and the Americans every paper of this kind deviates from the mandate Ehud Barak has," Shalom said. "Since his resignation, he has no moral or legal mandate to do this."

January 2001


Leila Khalid - refugee from Haifa, fighter for Palestine
(January 31, 2001)
When Palestinian liberation fighter Leila Khaled hijacked her first plane in 1969, she became the international pin-up of armed struggle. Then she underwent cosmetic surgery so she could do it again. Thirty years on, she talks to Katharine Viner about being a woman at war.

The end of Israel?
(January 30, 2001)
At a time with rampant current events breaking daily, often hourly, there is much need to remember the importance of sometimes taking time for reflection, of sometimes stepping back to contemplate both the past and the future.

Sharon - the REAL legacy of Clinton and Barak
(January 30, 2001)
As the Barak era fades from view -- more short-lived than anyone predicted just a long year and a half ago -- his epitaph is already being written and Ariel Sharon's government and policies are already being debated.

Looming civil war in Palestine
(January 29, 2001)
Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse.

Arafat blasts, Peres maneuvers, Barak sinks
(January 29, 2001)
For all practical purposes Ehud Barak is gone and Yasser Arafat is now desperately trying to save his own skin.

Barak's 3 no's, and Bush's 7 minute call
(January 28, 2001)
The Americans leaked it, a 7-minute Saturday call from the new U.S. Pres to the sinking Israeli PM -- leaked its brevity that is.

The Bomb and Iraq
(January 28, 2001)
As war clouds gather in the Middle East public opinion is being prepared for a possible regional war that could likely include a combined Western/Israeli effort to take out the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The "nuts" in the next room
(January 27, 2001)
In recent years Israel's most important and serious newspaper, Ha'aretz, has taken to not only reporting Palestinian affairs much more deeply but to interviewing major Palestinian personalities abroad.

Get ready for Prime Minister Sharon
(January 27, 2001)
The new Ma'ariv-Gallop poll questioned a particularly large sample of 1,100 people, putting special emphasis on the Arab population and new immigrants.

Panic in the Barak camp
(January 27, 2001)
All the tricks and lies of the Israeli Labor Party have now come back to haunt it. Barak, never a politician, bears the brunt of popular blame for all the political deceptions and tricks that have for so long accumulated.

War alert in Europe and Middle East
(January 27, 2001)
We've noted the "war fever" growing in the region for some months now. There's considerable anxiety about who may now strike first.

Israeli and Jewish soul-searching
(January 26, 2001)
The Intifada, coupled with Israeli brutality and recognition that the term "Apartheid Peace" is in fact applicable after all, are having an effect on at least some Israelis and some Jews; even while Ariel Sharon marches to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem (and maybe because of this).

"Disastrous" American intervention
(January 26, 2001)
ou've got to wonder about these Palestinian "negotiators". What others saw decades ago those who have been most involved are apparently beginning to see only now.

Sharon marches on, Barak stumbles on
(January 25, 2001)
The 554,000 Arabs eligible to vote represent 12.3 percent of the electorate. The Arab turnout in 1999 was 76%, and 95% voted for Barak.

An alliance of the outcasts? Iran, Iraq and Syria
(January 24, 2001)
So the Israelis are going to elect war-criminal tough-guy General Ariel Sharon to be Prime Minister. This after the most top-heavy military-intelligence government in peacetime history for Israel -- that of General Ehud Barak.

General Powell says no to sanctions on behalf of Corporate America
(January 23, 2001)
Hamas has struck again and the "negotiations" are "suspended" again. Two Israelis were assassinated by masked men while eating at a restaurant in Tulkarm. Though this time it was Israelis who were killed it was another warning to Yasser Arafat. Last week similarly masked men in Gaza killed a close Arafat friend, the head of Palestinian TV in Gaza, just as it was rumored Arafat was about to sign some kind of new deal with the Israelis.

EyeWitness Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa
(January 23, 2001)
The depressing element of this entire struggle is that the Arafat regime survives and...will be the one to ultimately determine the fate of the Palestinian people.

War Fever - Israel and Syria
(January 23, 2001)
Tensions continue to grow in the Middle East region, armies continue to prepare, public opinion continues to be manipulated. Though Ehud Barak too is a militarist -- a former commando, General, and Chief of Staff of the Army -- Ariel Sharon brings with him historical baggage and war-criminal image which could easily contribute to a clash of armies sooner rather than later, even if not fully intended by either side.

EyeWitness Gaza
(January 22, 2001)
A year or so ago, I visited the Mouwasi area in Gaza. It was a green paradise, on top, and in the midst, of white sand dunes. I particularly remember this Guava grove, where the guavas hanging from the trees were the size of large oranges; I hadn't seen anything like that ever before.

Reaping what they have sown
(January 22, 2001)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election.

Israel's president departs
(January 21, 2001)
There has never been, and there probably never will be, a president who had such fantastic relations with the State of Israel. It's unbelievable.

Ross officially join Israeli lobby
(January 19, 2001)
During the Lebanon War of 1982 -- some think of it as Sharon's war -- the Israelis and their American Jewish friends felt they had a difficult time when it came to public relations. And when the American Marines pulled out, symbolizing the failure of the Israelis to force Lebanon into the American-Israeli orbit and out of the Syrian-Arab one, the Israelis realized that they had much power in Washington on Capitol Hill, but not enough power with the media, intellectuals, and think-tanks.

War preparations in Israel
(January 19, 2001)
It's always called "The Peace Process" but more behind-the-scenes the whole Middle East region continues to be an arms bazaar with more weapons being sold to the countries in the area than ever before, most by American arms merchants and allies.

Palestinian TV Head killed
(January 17, 2001)
It may have been a warning to Arafat not to dare sign any new agreements, as has been rumored in the past few days he was planning to do tomorrow in fact. It may have been another Israeli assassination - though usually they don't take such risks and use such methods, strongly preferring instead to use high-technology and long-distance means.

Iraq, Saddam and the Gulf War
(January 17, 2001)
It was 10 years ago yesterday that the U.S. unleashed the power of the Empire against the country of Iraq after created the regional conditions that lead to the Iraq-Iran and then the Iraq-Kuwait-Saudi wars. In that period of time somewhere in the number of 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed, the history of the Middle East altered, the future of the region more uncertain and dangerous than ever.

Last night in Gaza ghetto
(January 16, 2001)
It's quite a game of international political brinkmanship. At the same time that Yasser Arafat is being tremendously pressured, and quite possibly further tricked, to sign some kind of "framework agreement" with Clinton and Barak before it is too late -- his regime is also being threatened with extinction both from within and without.

Generals Sharon and Barak as politicians
(January 16, 2001)
With Jan 20 (Clinton leaves office) and Feb 6 (Barak likely to be defeated by Sharon) fast approaching, desperation and near panic are evident in the traditional power centers, including various Arab capitals.

"Unilateral separation" one way or another
(January 15, 2001)
The separation plan would go into the event of one of the following three scenarios: as a response to a unilateral declaration of statehood on the part of the Palestinians; under a severe security threat; or as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority

Up in arms against Apartheid
(January 13, 2001)
At the end of the second millennium, three million Palestinians are imprisoned in ghettoes by the very man whom the Palestinian leadership hailed as the saviour of peace. Netanyahu had driven the peace ship off course. Barak scuttled it.

Locking in Oslo
(January 12, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis continue to try to twist the screws. Their minimum goal now is to "lock in" the "Oslo Peace Process" approach to the conflict. It may be an "Apartheid Peace", and it may have resulted in considerable bloodshed, but even so it is leading to a form of "Palestinian Statehood" and "separation" that the Israelis strongly desire as the best alternative for themselves.

Sharon charges on
(January 12, 2001)
he long-serving (now recalled to Cairo) Egyptian Ambassador to Israel was quoted saying last week that if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement isn't reached in the next two weeks there won't be an agreement for the next two decades.

"Sharon leads to peace"
(January 11, 2001)
The last time the Israeli "Arab vote" was pushed toward Shimon Peres for Prime Minister -- back in 1996 -- there was much resistance. Then Peres was acting Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Army had just committed the Qana massacre in Southern Lebanon, and Peres was busy trying to cover it up.

Grandfather Sharon
(January 10, 2001)
If the polls remain as disastrous as they now are for Ehud Barak, expect him to be pushed out and Shimon Peres substituted. Barak has no chance; Peres has some, especially with the "Arab vote".

The Dangerous weeks, months ahead
(January 10, 2001)
Guys like Commando-General-Prime Minster Ehud Barak don't go easily from the scene. Barak's daring-do was lavishly praised just a few years ago; now it has even the military types fretting. No telling just what Barak and friends might try in the next few weeks.

Assissination, siege and war crimes
(January 9, 2001)
The Israeli government, both as a group and as individuals, bears full responsibility for the crimes that were committed. We will do everything possible, including declaring members of this government war criminals who are eligible for trial by the world tribunal." Palestinian Authority "Minister"

Soul-searching Israelis
(January 9, 2001)
The "liberals" among them, the most cosmopolitan and internationally-oriented of the Israelis, are now getting extra nervous. Not only is Ariel Sharon coming to power, not only is regional war possible, not only are the cold treaties with Egypt and Jordan in jeopardy, but even Israel's future has come into question

Israel acts while Arafat talks
(January 8, 2001)
srael continues to take major steps designed to shrink, isolate and control the Palestinian areas forever. The policy is termed "unilateral separation" and it is linked to bringing about a so-called "Palestinian State" that serves Israeli interests, making everything worse than ever for the Palestinian "natives".

Clinton's Israel speech
(January 8, 2001)
On his way out the Presidential door Bill Clinton went to New York City to speak to his American Jewish supporters and further grease his way toward his future. This is the Bill Clinton that turned the U.S. government over to the Israeli/Jewish lobby in his years in office; of course pretending otherwise.

Specter of an "ugly future"
(January 5, 2001)
Lofty, humanitarian goals like 'peace and democracy'? No, America's primary interest in the Middle East is effective control of the world's most important energy reserves, Noam Chomsky tells Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
Did President Hindenburg and the German intelligentsia feel this way in 1930s when they saw that Adolf Hitler, and his brownshirt thugs, were about to be elected to power?

Barak and Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
While the Labor "Doves" are busy running ads in Arab papers showing dismembered corpses in Palestinian Refugee Camps -- with the caption "Sharon" -- the reality is that Generals Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon are more two of a kind than anything else.

Arab nations add their voices to the chorus of despair
(January 4, 2001)
All chance of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future is vanishing, destroyed by hardening opinions on both sides, continuing violence, the precarious position of the political leaders involved and disagreements over key issues.

Darling of American Jewry
(January 4, 2001)
Over the years, most of the strongest advocates of Israel have usually been people who are not Jewish....[I] look forward to working with him...

Barak publicly warns of regional war
(January 4, 2001)
Amid veiled threats from the Israelis to start targeting even more senior Arafat Regime persons, and even to bring the Arafat "Palestinian Authority" to an end, Ehud Barak has also started publicly talking about the possibility of regional war.

No deal for Arafat
(January 3, 2001)
In particular, the Palestinians are concerned that the proposed settlement would create Palestinian territorial islands separated from each other by Israeli territory and therefore not viable as a nation. They object to a proposed land swap that would allow some Israeli settlers to remain on the West Bank in exchange for land that the Palestinians claim is desert and a toxic waste dump.

Arafat rushes to Washington
(January 2, 2001)
Clinton and the Israelis have set the stage for the last act of their multi-year drama attempting to trap the Palestinians on controlled reservations and calling it "an end to the conflict". But like a modern-day computer game the users can interact and change the outcome to various scenarios.

Top Palestinian Leader in the Arafat Regime
(January 2, 2001)
The whole house of political quicksand built by Bill Clinton at the behest of the Israelis (and popularly known as the "Peace Process") is bubbling, steaming, and swallowing many of its key participants.

Arafat hangs up on threatening Clinton
(January 1, 2001)
The coming issue of TIME magazine reports that Arafat hung up the phone receiver on Clinton a few days ago, turning to an aide and saying: "He's threatening me!

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