The Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2002
RIGHT: DISMANTLE PA OR
By Gil Hoffman
JERUSALEM POST (February 20) - The Right sent a clear message to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after last night's terror attack: Dismantle the Palestinian Authority or dismantle the government and resign.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office promised an immediate, quick response to the attack and said the frequency of deadly attacks will definitely influence today's security cabinet meeting, but at the same time said this is not the time to make a rash decision.
In a meeting with Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and top IDF officers late Monday night, Sharon decided to take action using the same parameters employed in the past, but said the response could be more intense and more frequent.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres postponed his two-day visit to Spain, supposed to begin today, to attend the security cabinet meeting, where he will try to prevent the Right from forcing the kind of response resulting in international criticism.
The National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu faction called upon Sharon to "wake up and smell his lack of policy."
"No considerations justify the reckless abandonment that has enabled the slaughter of Jews," the faction said. "The prime minister was elected to bring security and if he cannot control the situation, he needs to make a decision about his future immediately."
Deputy Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sharon cannot get by this time with just blowing up empty buildings. "The government must realize the lives of its citizens come before not only political considerations, but also international concerns," Edelstein said.
Herut MK Michael Kleiner said Sharon is haunted by the Lebanon war. He said this has hurt Israeli deterrence. "The future of the state is more important than the future of the government, so if the government does not decide to capture the PA territories, it should disband the Knesset and go to elections," Kleiner said.
Opposition leader Yossi Sarid said those who believe in responding to violence with further violence are mistaken. He said the PA has already been stripped of its power to the point it is powerless to act against terror.
But Deputy Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra said Sarid should applaud any decision to act against terror, just like the Democrats did in the United States.
National Religious Party leader Yitzhak Levy, who helped bring down the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, said before last night's attack Netanyahu disappointed him less than Sharon. Levy told Channel 1 Sharon has failed to display any leadership.
"If the prime minister cannot end terror, he should let someone else who can take over," Levy said. "He should say, 'I promised peace and security, I failed, I'm going home.' "
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