The Bottom Line / Like water on Teflon
Ariel Sharon is Mister Teflon. He promised us security, but the number of terror attacks and victims has never been so high. His apostles sang "Only Sharon can bring peace" but peace is further away than ever.
Ariel Sharon is Mister Teflon. He promised us security, but the number of terror attacks and victims has never been so high. His apostles sang "Only Sharon can bring peace" but peace is further away than ever. In the economic arena, he has led the country into deep crisis by not living up to a single one of his promises. Nonetheless, the failures don't stick to him at all.
Even in the water reform he dares take measures that, had Ehud Barak considered them, the public would have demanded he stand trial. During his entire term of office, Sharon has intervened in the price of water for agriculture preventing any rise, despite the terrible waste. Everyone knows the Sharon family has a large farm that enjoys a large, subsidized water allocation, so when his involvement reached conflict of interest proportions, the attorney general forbade Sharon's making any decisions on the matter. Forbade? So what?
When Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon took his life in his hands and led a brave reform of the water sector, Sharon acted ceaselessly to torpedo the measure. Shalom wants the price of water for agriculture to be the same as water for local authorities, with farmers receiving subsidies through various incentives for working the land. This would rescue the water sector, and return hundreds of Negev dunams to agricultural use.
But a group of agricultural interests from the north of the country who receive water at the ridiculous price of 20 agorot per cubic meter, and kibbutzim that receive enormous quotas of subsidized water, want to repeal the reform, and they found an ally in the prime minister.
Sharon announced his opposition to raising water prices for agriculture and lackey Avigdor Yitzhaki set up a committee with a single purpose: to torpedo the reform. The committee will debate the matter until winter when elections will be on the horizon and no one will be interested in implementing any reforms. The committee can also try to develop all sorts of models that prove that the price of water for agriculture should be lower than the price of water for local authorities. But that has no economic basis, because the price of water should be the same for everyone, agriculture, industry and households alike.
The cabinet and the Water Commission have already approved the water sector reform. The Knesset Finance Committee should approve it within three weeks and then it should get under way. Agriculture Minister Simhon should not have to take the insult. He is not Sharon's employee. He must resign the cabinet if the committee begins to function, as should the entire Labor Party. Why? Because this is a rescue plan for the water sector and an irresponsible prime minister cannot be allowed to lead us not only into political crisis, not only into terror attacks, not only into economic crisis, but into the day when we turn on the faucet - and nothing comes out.