Ministers, Right-wing MKs Lambaste Colleagues for Attending Geneva Ceremony

Knesset members from the right of the political spectrum reacted angrily to yesterday's launching ceremony in Geneva.

MK Yuli Edelstein (Yisrael b'Aliyah) even submitted a complaint to the Knesset's Ethics Committee against those MKs who attended the ceremony. According to Edelstein, legislators Haim Oron, Roman Bronfman, Avraham Burg, Yuli Tamir and Amram Mitzna all contravened Knesset regulations by attending the ceremony.

Edelstein claimed that any trip abroad by a serving Knesset member, which is funded by a foreign organization or individual, must be approved in advance by the Ethics Committee. Since the committee had not approved any of the lawmakers' departure to Geneva, they were guilty of breaching Knesset ethics, he argued.

National Union lawmaker Uri Ariel said that the Geneva Accord is worse than the Oslo Accords for Israel. According to Ariel, the actions of the left-wing MKs could be seriously damaging for Israel and its citizens. He called on Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein to set up a commission of inquiry to look into their actions.

The head of the settler lobby group in the Knesset, MK Yehiel Hazan (Likud), said that those behind the Geneva Accord "should be stopped by all legal means, before their wicked plan to sell off the Land of Israel." Hazan added that the agreement is "the piracy of people who are not living in reality."

Shinui MK Reshef Chayne said that it is legitimate for people to draft and sign the Geneva Accord, in order to formulate a political platform, but objected to the impression created that the agreement is supposed to replace the efforts of the elected government.

National Religious Party MK Gila Finkelstein said that the accord is nothing more than a ostentatious production aimed at artificially reviving the Israeli left. She added that Israel gives up ground on every clause in the agreement, and that it presents a false impression of political authorization. She said that it was important to know when to stand up for one's ideals, and that was where the Geneva Accord had failed.

Ministerial fury

Several government ministers were also highly critical of the accord.

"This is a very serious political outrage," said Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party). "There is no other way to describe it but oppositionist subversion against the elected government by presenting a false and misleading image."

According to Orlev, the activities of the left undermine Israel's basic demand of the Palestinians to fight terror. "I have no doubt that the signing of the Geneva Accord will harm the government's ability to conduct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, because they are now surely asking themselves why should they fight terror, why should they reach a compromise with the Sharon government?" Orlev added that he was equally concerned that a foreign country was funding the activities of an opposition body.

Minister Uzi Landau (Likud) said that the Geneva Accord was among the worst initiatives that has been put forward so far, but said that it was wrong to call participants in the drafting of the document traitors.

While agreeing with his colleagues' claims that their actions were irresponsible and endanger the security of Israel, Landau said that critics must take care not to overstep the bounds of legitimate criticism.

Natan Sharansky claimed that "the Geneva Accord invites tremendous pressure on Israel and a return to the path of one-sided concessions that invite terror against us."

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid (Shinui) said that "every effort should be made to encourage talks with the Palestinians, but negotiations must be conducted by the legally elected government, not by a collection of failed politicians from the left."

Shas chairman Eli Yishai also attacked the accords, but was just as scathing of the government's diplomatic inertia. "The government has created a vacuum which is being filled by accords that could damage Israel's endurance."