The Natan Eshel affair, in which the head of the Prime Minister's Bureau resigned and admitted to harassing a female subordinate, turned the three senior aides who blew the whistle on him into the heroes of a Greek tragedy.
The three - Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, Military Secretary Yohanan Locker and chief media adviser Yoaz Hendel, who has since resigned - must have known what they were getting into for ratting on a darling of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Nevertheless, they put themselves in harm's way and reported Eshel's misdeeds to the attorney general.
Was this really an act of courage? Since when does discharging the legal and moral duty to report a possible crime merit a medal? What choice did they have? Had they not gone to the authorities they could have been culpable as accomplices to harassing a public servant.
But even as the three kept their noses clean with regard to the Eshel affair, they had a hand in an matter considerably more heinous, involving Netanyahu's deception of the public and its elected officials.
The trio of aides cooperated with the prime minister's scheme to bury the two-state solution for good while blaming the Palestinians. Certain senior cabinet ministers were also complicit in this offense - they had also glanced at the document that Isaac Molho, Netanyahu's envoy to the peace process, gave the Palestinians at last month's talks in Amman. They, too, know why the settlers and their Knesset representatives were not overly upset by news reports suggesting that Molho had "suggested waiving Israeli sovereignty over at least 90 percent of the West Bank."
On January 15 Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "We submitted a document of 21 points on which there is wall-to-wall agreement," adding, "Everyone here in this room would have agreed with it."
We obtained a copy of this document late last week. Indeed, it contains not a single word that would have upset any of the committee members, representing parties spanning the gamut from Habayit Hayehudi through Meretz (there are no Arab MKs on the committee ). What could be controversial about a grocery list?
Rather than present the government's positions on the issues of borders and security, as stipulated by the Quartet, the Palestinians were given 21 discussion topics that included borders, settlements, security, Jerusalem, water, archaeological sites and the like. There was no hint as to Israel's positions on these issues, and no map of any kind.
Netanyahu remains steadfast in his refusal to conduct negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders with a mutual swap of territory, as stated in the Quartet's outline and in the declarations of U.S. President Barack Obama.
At the premier's instructions, Molho also did not use the term "occupied territories," arguing that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are "disputed territories." Molho spoke of "settlement blocs" without detailing their scope, and did not suggest what areas within the Green Line would be offered in exchange.
The only item about which Netanyahu presented his position was "recognition of Israel as the Jewish state." The prime minister knows perfectly well that Palestinian agreement to negotiate over a document that includes this phrase would be tantamount to accepting an agenda that rejects the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.
During that same Knesset debate in which he discussed the document, Netanyahu claimed that he was ready to return to negotiations at any time, with no preconditions, adding, "For three years the Palestinians have refused to negotiate."
But the 21-point document is merely the newest edition of "[Ehud] Barak gave them everything, and they responded with violence," and "[Ariel] Sharon gave them Gaza, and they repaid us with Qassams, and "[Ehud] Olmert offered them Jerusalem, and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] fled."
Here, dear citizens, is yet more proof that the problem is Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and not the occupation and its injustices. The demand to freeze settlement construction is a totally illegitimate "precondition," while their expansion is a clear gesture of reconciliation.
The point is that when the most recent disturbances on the Temple Mount lead to the third intifada, and the Islamic Jihad takes control of the West Bank, we'll be able to sigh, "What can we do, we have no partners?" and go back to demonstrating against the high price of chocolate. After all, Netanyahu even gave them a document with 21 points, and they preferred to return to the path of terror.
Where were our three heroes when their boss, a right-wing politician masquerading as a statesman, led us down the path to oblivion?
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