The achievements of the Geneva Accord
I'm not sorry that Shinui is in the government. I still believe it is this government, since it is a government that best reflects the Israeli consensus, that must take the lead in steps of this magnitude. The Geneva Accord is not the only recipe, and perhaps not the best one. But this is the time for action.
As I see it, the supreme obligation of elected officials is to examine the changing reality with open eyes, and to adapt themselves to these changes. It's much more convenient, politically speaking, to remain entrenched in old positions. We, the members of Shinui, promised the voter to represent the Israeli center. I, who supported the Geneva Accord and participated in certain parts of the negotiations, do not consider myself part of the left in many aspects: ideologically, in terms of economics, temperament, affiliation and historical development.
I am rooted in the political center: the center that is not misled by illusions, that isn't quick to become enthusiastic, but on the other hand, is not bound by extremist world views, but insists on a pragmatic view of reality. To be in the center means not to reject ideas automatically, only because they come from a certain political direction. To be in the center means to look reality in the eye and not to force your ideology on it. To be in the center means to examine the real interests of the State of Israel daily and hourly.
According to this definition, together with me in the center are about 20 percent of the Likud voters and about 40 percent of Shinui voters - as shown by a survey published in Haaretz - as well as some members of Shas, who supported and participated in the ceremony in Geneva. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Absorption Tzipi Livni are also in the center now, and perhaps others in their faction will follow in their wake.
I'm not entirely happy with the Geneva Accord. I believe, for example, that the subject of the right of return (for Palestinians) should be made clearer, and the arrangements in Jerusalem should be changed, and that they should not have been part of this show of appeasement. In addition, I have reservations about the nature of the Palestinian speeches heard at the ceremony in Geneva, whose content grates on Israeli ears.
But I must say that the Geneva Accord includes substantial achievements for Israel, such as the Palestinian relinquishment of the practical realization of the right of return - and proof of this can be found in the violent demonstrations in the territories against the Geneva participants. In any case, the Geneva Accord is a significant development, both in terms of its content and in terms of the declaration by significant groups among the Palestinians that they favor a permanent agreement with Israel, which will end the conflict and the demands.
At the same time, one can see the accord as an option for the outline of the third stage of the road map, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said. Therefore, anyone who continues to reject the Geneva Accord summarily, without even relating to what was achieved in them, only because people from the left stand behind them, is betraying their responsibility as an elected official.
We, as elected officials, have a supreme obligation to do everything possible to save the lives of people in the country; to do everything possible in order to solve the economic and social crisis, and to bring welfare, prosperity and a normal life to Israel's citizens.
I'm not sorry that Shinui is in the government. I still believe it is this government, since it is a government that best reflects the Israeli consensus, that must take the lead in steps of this magnitude. The Geneva Accord is not the only recipe, and perhaps not the best one. But this is the time for action. It's impossible to wait any longer. Unilateral withdrawal is a possibility that should be begun immediately only if we reach the conclusion that there is no one at present with whom to sign an agreement, because an agreement is always preferable.
I propose to the prime minister that he begin implementing the Shinui plan for confidence building with the Palestinians and unilaterally evacuate the settlement of Netzarim, and perhaps additional settlements in the Gaza Strip. He will have a huge majority among the public for such a step. I call on him to evacuate the illegal outposts without delay. I also call on him to stop transferring money to the settlements, as happened last week in the Knesset Finance Committee. These are immediate steps, and Shinui, together with most of the public, will stand behind any step he takes in this direction.
The writer is a Shinui MK.