||Sharon: Washington's favorite
The last few days have reminded
Israeli diplomats of the worst days of the unity government. What's
an Israeli ambassador supposed to tell a foreign minister or a TV
interviewer who asks if the Israeli government will expel Yasser
Arafat - that the prime minister opposes it and the foreign minister
is in favor? Or maybe they should explain that because of the war in
Iraq the government opposes it, but on the day after, when President
Bush can tell the Arabs whatever he wants, Arafat can meet up with
Saddam Hussein to compare notes.
Every hour Benjamin
Netanyahu spends at the Foreign Ministry instead of at his campaign
headquarters confirms the view that Sharon put him between a rock
and a hard place. If he shows restraint, he'll appear to Likud
voters as little more than a Sharon clerk. According to the polling
data in Netanyahu's hands, confirmed by the applause-o-meter at the
Likud convention, he has nothing better than aggressive horizontal
hand motions accompanying the promise to "toss out Arafat." But that
thundering pushes Sharon straight into the arms of the president of
the United States, whom even Netanyahu has to say is "Israel's
Netanyahu is the darling of the
neo-conservatives in Washington and their loyal follower, and they
are the political forces maneuvering Bush toward war with Iraq. They
won't like any move that could disturb their plans, even if it comes
from their favorite Israeli.
Netanyahu's decision to choose
the aggressive option can be seen as proof that the polls in the
Israeli press worry him more than the cables from Israeli legations
in the U.S. According to reports from the embassy in Washington,
Netanyahu's battle cry has turned Sharon into Washington's favorite
son, with both Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice praising the prime minister.
"road map" has been folded up until further notice. In response to a
declaration by Terje Larsen, the UN secretary-general's special
envoy to the Middle East, that the Quartet was awaiting responses to
the road map by the middle of December, the Foreign Ministry said
that Larsen is in no position to dictate anything to the government.
Even the one issue that sparked a bit of a dispute between
Sharon and the administration - the freeze on Palestinian Authority
funds - has been taken off the agenda. In briefings to American
reporters, government and army spokesmen are saying the murders at
Kibbutz Metzer revealed new facts about Arafat's involvement - and
that of his aides, including PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad, an
American loyalist - in the financing of such terror activities. The
U.S. may have rejected the Israeli proposal for a mechanism to
transfer money to the PA (even the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem
says it would turn Fayad into a clerk in the General Accountant's
office in the treasury), but until further notice, the term
"American pressure" regarding the funding, or anything else, for
that matter, has been erased from Sharon's agenda.
hadn't been returned to the Foreign Ministry, the prime minister
would have had to drag him there by force.
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has
already declared that in a properly run country a government does
not come down on the side of lawbreakers, even with a hint and a
wink. Rubinstein knows that at the end of the day he'll be the one
who has to defend the state in case a petition is filed to the High
Court of Justice in the matter of the illegal outposts. The albeit
limited operation conducted by former defense minister Benjamin
Ben-Eliezer freed the attorney general from that unpleasant duty.
Now the new defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, has the same
official documents that dictated the attorney general's position.
Every outpost was closely examined with legal magnifying glasses
before finding its way to the list of those that have to be
dismantled. Now, says the attorney general, it's up to the defense
minister, by virtue of his authority to uphold the law in the
territories, and the government does not have the authority to
appeal any move against the illegal outposts.
examination of the list of illegal outposts shows that many of the
buildings were snuck into place during the Barak administration.
Although the IDF knew about every movement of every bulldozer on the
ground, no orders were given by then-chief of staff Shaul Mofaz to
stop the lawbreakers. One possible explanation for that, can be
found in an Arutz Sheva interview given last week by Nisan
Slomiansky, a former National Religious Party MK and the chairman of
the Elkana local council.
In the interview marking Mofaz's
appointment as defense minister, Slomiansky said that in May 1977,
three weeks before Menachem Begin became prime minister, 17 families
set up Elkana in the Samarian hills. Among them were the young
couple Shaul and Orit Mofaz. Orit became Slomiansky's secretary, the
young Sayeret Matkal officer Shaul became the community's security
officer. Two or three years later the Mofaz family moved back across
the Green Line to Kochav Yair. Slomiansky said the settlers of
Elkana are still "in touch" with the Mofaz family. He made sure to
note that the short period in which the Mofaz family lived in Elkana
does not necessarily testify to the defense minister's political
14 bullet shells
The names of Revital
Ohayon and her two sons, Noam, 4, and Matan, 5, as well as the names
of Yitzhak Dori and Tirzah Damari, don't say much to the residents
of Nablus. For them, at most, those are more numbers in the
statistics of the war dead in the long campaign against the
occupation. Most people from Nablus don't find any place in their
hearts for the pain of a father saying kaddish over the graves of
his two children. For the people of Nablus, the significance of the
murder is Israeli soldiers in the streets of their city, a curfew,
want and fear. It doesn't really interest them now that the
kibbutzniks of Metzer probably will vote for either Yossi Sarid or
For most Israelis, the name Shaden Abu Hijla,
a Palestinian woman in her 50s, is completely foreign. Shaden was
killed last month while sitting on her porch, by a burst of bullets.
Her husband was seriously wounded in his head. Her son was shot in
No Israeli politician, not even from the left, is
demanding the IDF hand over the investigation into the death of the
doctor's wife from Rafadiyeh, an upscale neighborhood in Nablus.
The Israelis have pain and anger of their own. It doesn't
really interest them that Abu Hijla was a veteran activist in a
women's organization that promoted peace and worked against
At least 14 bullet casings were picked up from the
street by neighbors after the IDF jeep disappeared around the corner
after the shooting. The markings on the shells could easily lead to
the weapon that fired the bullets and to the shooter. A few days
after the incident, which took place on the eve of Sharon's latest
visit to Washington, American Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer sent a
report on the Abu Hijla case to the White House, to make tangible to
the administration the other side of the term "the war against
Sharon promised the White House the case would be
thoroughly investigated and that if someone were found guilty, he
would be punished. The European Union received a similar promise.
This week, a month after her mother was slain (the IDF
Spokesman's Office said this week "the investigation continues") Abu
Hijla's daughter, Lana, sent an e-mail to all those who sent their
"... When I heard the terrible news of my
mother's murder as she was sitting on the porch of our home, I kept
on screaming `don't let her become just another number in the long
list of Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation.' The sad fact
we are living in these days is that we have become faceless people
and mere numbers reported on, by the way, in the news, if even
"Our victims have lost their names as if they had
none, as if they have no families and friends that love them and
will terribly miss them," she writes.
Lana promises to do
whatever she can so her beloved mother won't also become a number,
so "her belief in a better future, in freedom of choice, in peace,
in our rights as Palestinians," won't be forgotten.
family and friends of Shaden, vowed to pursue the case of her murder
to try to bring the ones responsible to justice, that is if justice
exists in this part of the world, particularly for Palestinians ...
I am sure if we, together, are able to make the next Israeli soldier
on such a mission hesitate for a second before pulling the trigger
and killing one more Mom, we will have won."
Palestinians there are also those for whom the massacre of the
helpless in Metzer is considered a victory. There are some for whom
Sirhan Sirhan, the suspected murderer, is similar to what Baruch
Goldstein is for the zealots of the Israeli right wing. Both are
fighting in the name of their God for the land, and meanwhile
soaking it with the blood of children.
There is only one way
that Avi Ohayon's bereavement won't become another bit of data in
the Israeli political election campaign and the bereavement of Lana
Abu Hijla doesn't become another number in the Palestinian
propaganda machine: each side should bring the guilty to justice, so
the criminals on both sides will see and fear.