Editorial from THE NEW YORK POST of February 17, 2000
MEDDLING IN ISRAEL'S AFFAIRS
The Clinton administration -- which twice worked feverishly behind the scenes to help elect its favored candidate prime minister of Israel -- is now reportedly prepared to interfere directly in that nation's political process. According to a recent story in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest newspaper, top officials in the U.S. Embassy have begun meeting with leaders of Israel's Arab community in an attempt to spur a large voter turnout when a peace accord with Syria is put to a national referendum.
According to the article, U.S. diplomats are "concerned by public opinion polls that show that Israeli Arabs are not going to participate significantly in the national referendum." The same polls also show significant opposition among Israel's Jewish voters to any agreement that requires Israel to abandon the strategic Golan Heights.
Beginning with the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's leaders have promised to submit any negotiated agreement with Syria to the nation's voters -- and have vowed to abide by the results of that vote.
It's understandable that Washington would want any such referendum to pass -- President Clinton, after all, hopes to cement an Israeli-Syrian agreement as his final foreign-policy triumph before leaving office next January. But to get directly involved in voter-turnout efforts -- complete, the paper reports, with financial support to local Arab groups -- in a foreign country is highly improper.
Disturbingly, officials at the embassy have not denied the newspaper story. The Clintonites twice crossed the line with their not-so-subtle efforts to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party -- indeed, the election campaign of Israel's current prime minister, Ehud Barak, was headed by the president's political gurus, James Carville and Stanley Greenberg.
(And guess what? The Barak campaign is now under criminal investigation over allegations of illegal fund-raising from foreign sources.)
Any referendum about so momentous a decision as withdrawing from the Golan and making peace with Israel's most intractable foe should be debated and decided solely by Israelis -- without any heavy-handed interference from Bill Clinton's minions.
Copy Of Letter From MK Uzi Landau To President Clinton Protesting US Activities Inside Israel
The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States of America
The White House
February 14, 2000
Dear President Clinton,
I would like to draw your attention to a matter of grave concern that threatens to cast a shadow over the special relationship between Israel and the United States, which we all hold so dear.
The following headline appeared in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's most widely-read newspaper, on February 11: "U.S Embassy Tries to mobilize Arab support in the Referendum". According to the article, senior U.S. Embassy officials have of late conducted a series of meetings with Israeli Arab leaders. The express aim of these meetings, according to the report, is to pressure Arab leaders to produce a large turnout among their constituency in the event that a referendum is held regarding the future of the Golan Heights, as the Arab vote could prove decisive. In addition, the report states that the U.S. diplomats promised to arrange financial assistance to back information campaigns that will be undertaken by Israeli Arab groups for this purpose. In response, the U.S. Embassy spokesman did not deny this information.
If the information in the article is accurate, this would constitute an unprecedented an intolerable act of gross interference in Israel's internal affairs. I can not emphasize enough the severity of this act, which demonstrates blatant disregard for the most elementary norms of accepted international behavior between states and nations. For over fifty years, the U.S.-lsrael relationship has been based on intimate ties of friendship and mutual trust. There can be no greater blow to a friendship, be it between two people or two nations, than a breach of faith. I pray this is not the case.
Accordingly, I request that you immediately instruct the American Ambassador to Israel and the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, as well as all American diplomats posted to Israel, to investigate this matter, and if it turns out to be true, to refrain forthwith from any and all such activity. I would also like to request that the Secretary of State reiterate publicly America's commitment to refrain from interfering in Israel's internal decision-making process.
The people of Israel may have to face troubling and fateful decisions in the months and years ahead. We have the right to expect that our closest friends and allies will allow us to make such decisions by ourselves.
Sincerely, Uzi Landau, Member of Knesset