Yitzhak Shamir, a man of platinum nerves, was forced into attending the Madrid Conference by Bush-Baker. Rabin-Peres didn't have to be pressured - they initiated the Arafat talks themselves. But today, we are facing a new situation. Israel has relinquished huge amounts of territory and has received in return, bullets. When Bibi Netanyahu spoke of reciprocity before the US Congress, the expectation was that all Israeli concessions would end until Arafat began living up to his side of the agreement. He was supposed to stop terrorism, change the palestinian covenant, extradite murderers, remove illegal arms from Arab terrorists, etc. etc. Instead, he did nothing. No, excuse me, that's not correct - he gave orders to his crack sniper squad formerly of Force 17, to start shooting Israeli soldiers in Gaza, Ramallah, and Shechem. There were two `official' excuses: the Jerusalem tunnel episode, and frustration over lack of `progress' concerning abandonment of Hebron. Extremely suitable, understandable reasonable reasons to kill Israeli soldiers.
I had no doubt whatsoever, that following this pogrom Hebron had ceased to be a topic for negotiation. Can any leader, in his right mind, continue to transfer ANY land to a self-proclaimed enemy, who continues to spout violence as a solution to `frustration?!' However, it seems that Bibi is bending.
The following is a quote from Thursday, September 7, 1995: Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu led a delegation of 14 Likud MKs to Hebron yesterday to show solidarity with the Jewish settlement there, and said that he and his colleagues will come to Hebron if a decision to uproot the settlement is taken. "The Jewish settlement will remain in Hebron permanently," Netanyahu said. "If someone tries to take it away, my friends and I will be here, and they will have to take us away as well". Netanyahu said he thinks "it will be a fatal mistake to bring hundreds of armed Palestinian policemen here, and there will be a small area where the Jews can pass and where the police and IDF can operate. If there will be a conflict, the IDF will not be able to function and will quickly collide with the Palestinian forces. This is a prescription for tragedy".
Netanyahu said he is worried about a time when there will be an attack in one of the alleys, and the attackers will run to the area under Palestinian control. Netanyahu said it is impossible to divide responsibility for security in Hebron: 'There is one body responsible, and that has to be the IDF".
This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who was elected to be Prime Minister of the State of Israel. This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who was supported by hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world.
This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who said on Monday, May 13, 1996 "redeployment should be put off until the final settlement. Hebron is a very complicated problem. It is the oldest Jewish settlement in the world, and the Jewish community there is in great danger. We all remember what happened in 1929. It is preferable that such a complex matter be carefully considered at the final status talks."
This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who was supposed to transpose the Rabin-Peres decisions. This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who was going to keep Hebron. This is the Benyamin Netanyahu who was going to sit down with the leaders of the Hebron Jewish Community, TALK TO THEM, NOT IGNORE THEM.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has, through today, totally ignored the Jewish Community of Hebron. It is almost as though we don't exist.
An Israel Line report quoted HA'ARETZ as saying "that there are indications that an understanding exists on the Hebron redeployment between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli residents of Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
Of course there is an understanding between the Jewish Community of Hebron and Bibi Netanyahu. That understanding can even be described as total agreement. We agree one hundred percent with all of those statements, and more, just like them, quoted above. However, there is no understanding, or agreement with the seemingly impending deals in the offing. The question is: Who is the real Bibi Netanyahu? Is he the man who stood tall, and proudly, at the first Hebron concert, with Avraham Fried at Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem assembly on behalf of the Jewish community in Hebron on December 8, 1994 and proclaimed../..."We are in Hebron by right, but also by the force of possession and inheritance. We will not forfeit our rights, nor the force to defend our rights."
Or, is the real Bibi Netanyahu the person who called mass murderer Arafat a `friend and partner,' after the terrorist gave orders to kill Israeli soldiers, attack civilian communities and set fire to Kever Yosef in Shechem and Kever Rachel in Beit Lechem.
The Israeli public and Jews around the world have a right to know who is going to be leading them for the next four years. Is he a true Israeli leader or is he a carbon copy of our immediate past prime ministers. Will history remember him as a courageous Jew, or declare him a poor imitation of Shimon Peres?
Will the real Benyamin Netanyahu stop bending over, stop trying to please world opinion and PLEASE STAND UP?!
David Wilder is a spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron.
POB 105 Kiryat Arba, Israel 90100