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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. Most significant of all is the way the two major parties, representing the two major ideological wings of Zionism, are in the end dancing around each other with plans to work together. They call it a "national unity government"; and they traditionally come together in times of crisis and war, saving their political competition for yet another day.

By Aluf Benn

(Ha'aretz, 1-29-01, p. 1) Ehud Barak is ending his term as PM without bringing about the signing of final status arrangements with the Syrians and Palestinians. A tremendous effort of thousands of hours of negotiations on many tracks and quite a number of leaders' meetings, in the shadow of far-reaching promises, ended yesterday with nothing. The only diplomatic agreement that Barak signed with Yasser Arafat was the Sharm el-Sheikh memorandum, which was meant to implement the Wye Agreement signed by Binyamin Netanyahu. Since then Barak has not made one real step toward the Palestinians, and even his decision to transfer Abu Dis and the neighboring area, which he managed to pass in the Knesset, faded to nothing.

The hasty negotiations Barak tried to push forward just before the elections, under pressure from the left wing leaders who make up the "peace cabinet" and with the help of his ally Bill Clinton, had no chance from the outset. Despite the enthusiastic rhetoric, Israel and the PA are not really interested in reaching a permanent agreement, because they are not so weak that they have to give up on their national symbols. The talks with the Palestinians during Barak's term were more like a game of tennis and were characterized by a mutual effort by him and Arafat to toss the ball of responsibility into the other's court. The game ended on Saturday with a draw at Taba, and Barak passed on another round at Stockholm, after he heard Arafat berating Israel in his speech at Davos.

The Israeli public heard, over and over, from the negotiators, headed by Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, that the end of the conflict was just around the corner, and were disappointed anew each time. Not long ago Shlomo Ben-Ami divulged in an interview to Yedioth Ahronoth that the Palestinians had never internalized the need for compromise and suddenly sounded like his predecessor David Levy, who had tried to stop Barak from his collision course and was punished by being removed from office.

Now, on the eve of elections, Israel finds itself in an unprecedented armed conflict with the Palestinians, whose position has never been tougher, as Abu Ala said at the farewell party for the Taba talks two days ago. Hundreds have been killed, the territories are under siege, and only international pressure stopped the air force's bombardments of the Palestinian cities. The result, by all indications, will be the rise to power of a right wing government headed by Ariel Sharon, only due to the hope that he will display a tougher hand toward the Arabs.

Israel's relations with the Arab states have sunk to their lowest point since the war in Lebanon. Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Bassyouni was recalled and the delicate relations with peripheral states were severed. Only little Qatar has kept its Israeli mission open.

The serial failures have brought Israel's relations with the U.S. to a deep crisis, due to Barak and Clinton's decision to harness defense and strategic ties to progress in the peace process. Clinton turned Israel into a strategic burden and this affects America's position in the Arab world. The new administration in Washington has learned the lesson and is trying with all its might to flee the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and any involvement in the Israeli elections. George Bush apparently does not want to stumble like his predecessor, who interfered on Shimon Peres's behalf in the '96 elections and failed.

The ones who starred during Barak's term were the Europeans and the UN, whom Israel had objected to including in the peace process for years, due to their consistent support of the Arabs. Now Kofi Annan and Miguel Moratinos are picking up the pieces left behind by Clinton and Barak, with the keen support of Shlomo Ben-Ami, who wants to internationalize the process "in order to protect Israel from the Palestinians."

The more interesting question, one that will be left to biographers and historians, is who Barak really was:

Was he, as his supporters in the Left assert, someone who strove with all his might for peace?

Or, did he never intend to give the Arabs even one millimeter of anything and only tried to embarrass them by his ostensible willingness for concessions, in order to tip the balance in Israel's favor internationally and to spare it the need for withdrawals and dismantling settlements?

Verbally, Barak was the revolutionary who came to make peace. In the positions he displayed in negotiations with Syria and Arafat, he always stopped short a few meters before an agreement, and in his forceful response to the Palestinian Intifada, he remains the tough occupier of yesteryear. And perhaps, actually, he was some of this and some of that.

by Nehama Duek

(Yedioth Ahronoth, 29 January): Likud candidate Ariel Sharon sent a letter to American Congressmen in which he states that if the Palestinians should unilaterally declare the establishment of an independent Palestinian state this would be tantamount to the abrogation of the Oslo, Wye and Camp David agreements, and would nullify any and all commitments that Israel had made in the course of years towards the Palestinians.

The head of Ariel Sharon's strategic team, Eyal Arad, said yesterday: "This is in keeping with the policy of the governments of Israel, which was adopted by Netanyahu, Barak and the Americans, by which a unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state would lead to the abrogation of all agreements reached to date."

In the detailed document, Sharon says that Arafat has made a strategic decision to unilaterally declare independence in tandem with a decision to launch an extended war of attrition against Israel and its citizens.

According to Sharon's plan, Israel will declare its own unilateral program, that will include the seizing of control over Area C, which is under full Israeli control, and the immediate deployment of IDF troops "in the eastern security zones in the Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert, and in the western security zone in Samaria, Judea and the areas under Israeli supervision."

Barak's campaign said in response: "The truth about Sharon's extremist positions, which lead to war, can be found only in foreign languages -- hidden far away from the eye of the general public."

by Nehama Duek and Yuval Karni

(Yedioth Ahronoth - 1/29/01): Likud candidate Ariel Sharon has spoken with Labor Party minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer a number of times in the past few days about the establishment of a national unity government after the elections.

The two spoke on the telephone with the knowledge of Ehud Barak.

Officials in the political establishment said that Sharon and Ben-Eliezer have had a good personal relationship for a long time and that the two respect one another. They noted that in the past when Barak had wanted to look into the possibility of establishing a national unity government he had placed Ben-Eliezer in charge of the negotiations with Sharon. Ben-Eliezer is also fully aware of all of the agreements reached between the two.

Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that Ben-Eliezer reported the content of his conversations with Sharon to Haim Ramon. In closed conversations Ramon said that he could not rule out the possibility of joining a national unity government under Sharon's leadership, but noted that the new government's guidelines would first have to be examined.

Senior Labor Party officials said last night that in the course of the talks the two men had also discussed the possibility that the Likud would join a Barak-led government. A senior Labor Party official said last night: "We are interested in conducting negotiations over the establishment of a national unity government, regardless of whether Barak forms the next government or Sharon wins. We need to prepare for every possibility.

Sharon yesterday repeated that he was talking with Labor Party officials about the establishment of a national unity government immediately after the elections. Sharon said yesterday: "A national unity government is what is needed. On the night of the elections I will turn to Mr. Barak and I will propose that we establish a national unity government in order to reach the security, peace and unity that will prevent rift and separation. That is the right step to take and Barak understands this as well. There are already talks and contacts under way about this issue.".

However, Barak's advisers denied reports that Barak would refuse under any circumstances to serve in Sharon's cabinet as defense minister. His advisers said that if the guidelines for Sharon's government were to be formulated so that they differed from Avigdor Lieberman's statements there might yet be room for negotiations.

Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last night that he had no relationship with Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu said this in response to allegations made by senior Likud officials that Lieberman had deliberately begun to voice extremist positions in an attempt to thwart Sharon's effort to establish a national unity government. Netanyahu said he was acting with all of his power to help Sharon win the elections and noted that he had appeared at more than ten campaign rallies.


Sharon wants unity government? Ariel Sharon has relayed to Prime Minister Ehud Barak via Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer a message that he is serious about a national unity government after the elections. Sharon and Ben-Eliezer did not discuss the portfolio distribution for the two parties. Minister Haim Ramon does not rule out the idea of a unity government under Sharon's leadership but demands that Ehud Barak not head the working team that negotiates if Sharon wins. And Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg does not rule out the Labor Party joining a government headed by Ariel Sharon if he wins the elections.

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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