Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post of August 18, 2000

STATE IN TURMOIL

by Ariel Sharon

Barak is deepening animosity and internal hatred
and thus, endangering us all.

Black clouds loom over the clear skies of Israeli democracy this week. On the other hand, US democracy has demonstrated its strength as a system that provides equal opportunities to any candidate for the vice presidency.

Anyone who observed this past week the brutal, inconsiderate way ambassadors and officials were removed from office - apparently on order from the Prime Minister's Office - must be concerned with democracy. You can fire someone; you can remove a person from his post, but there is no need to insult, to hurt, to trample on a civil servant's honor and dignity. This is despicable. A real shame.

Democracy is in a state of turmoil. There is a prime minister without a government, without a majority in the Knesset, and without a majority among the public; a prime minister who violated the pledges that got him elected. On top of all that, the Knesset has already passed with a 61 majority vote the preliminary call for an early dissolution.

In any viable democracy a prime minister who vows to safeguard his country's security, protect its holy sites and uphold its unity, and who then violates them, simply goes home. The prime minister violated his security promises and agreed to hand over the vital Jordan Valley to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Ehud Barak has promised to keep and protect the holy shrines, but accepted the American ideas of handing over sovereignty of a large part of the Old City to the Palestinians; offering them control of the Temple Mount, an office for Arafat, and free access without Israeli inspection!

As for Hebron, we were told about Barak's proposals and non-binding exchange of ideas - an exercise in deception designed to remove the Jewish community from the city. He wants to expel Jews from the Cave of the Patriarchs, a national monument like no other nation on earth has.

THE HOLY shrines have suddenly disappeared from Barak's pledges. He has crossed a red line no government ever did: agreeing to make concessions in Jerusalem. What was once firm and unequivocal has now become soft and flexible. This, I am afraid, will only invite more pressure in the future.

No government and no prime minister has the right to decide by itself to hand over the Jewish people's holy shrines. We are dealing here with national and historical assets of the Jewish people. Whoever decides to give them up must first obtain the people's consent. Barak simply has not got it.

Barak speaks about unity but creates a critical division among the people, a cleavage that will only become wider and deeper. I am fearful of what this may bring about.

I know that the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will not evacuate themselves, and no one can say today what dire consequences may result if it is decided to abandon them. Barak is deepening animosity and internal hatred and thus endangering us all.

Contrary to his statement that what was discussed in Camp David is null and void, Barak continues to conduct clandestine negotiations, and is ready for additional concessions, from the same point where the Camp David summit ended. Apparently, he is using an artificial crisis planned by both Israel and the US in order to adjust the negotiations to a more convenient time schedule based on US domestic political considerations.

A prime minister in any democratic system that does not speak truth to his constituencies is usually forced to resign. In a healthy democracy, a prime minister who patronizes and despises the Knesset and the people's elected representatives, would be on his way home, and fast. Prime Minister Barak hurries to report to the president of Egypt; is quick to update the king of Jordan; he sends emissaries to the Gulf States and around the world to brief them about the details of the negotiations. But at the same time he bypasses a Knesset law by refusing to report and update, as required, the head of the opposition party. ln any other democracy such practices by the prime minister would serve as a case for removal.

In order to survive and develop, a stable democracy requires secure and lasting peace. Therefore, we must take all the necessary steps for early elections with a government based on broad national consensus that will work to bring real and secure peace, peace with Jerusalem, peace that will safeguard the vital national interests of Israel and protect the historical rights of the Jewish people in its one and only homeland, Israel, and in its undivided capital, Jerusalem.

Only such a government is capable of restoring the confidence of the people in the viability of democracy.

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Ariel Sharon is the chairman of the Likud Party.

(c) Jerusalem Post 2000



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