Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor has been shown to be a lucid voice of reason in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's second government. In an interview with Gidi Weitz to be published in full in Haaretz Magazine tomorrow, Meridor presents reasoned and appropriate positions on matters both political and legal. His return to political life will be justified if he fights for his beliefs.
Meridor has garnered considerable experience in the cabinet and Knesset, and as an adviser to prime ministers and defense officials, even if he didn't always fight for his opinions. He is proposing that Netanyahu proceed in total seriousness with the peace process with the Palestinians to resolve the conflict and, simultaneously, to renew negotiations with Syria to create a new strategic landscape for the region. Meridor makes clear that he isn't proposing an empty process but rather an agreement with the Palestinians "that would oblige us to make significant concessions on part of the land."
He believes that the prime minister "wants to reach an agreement [on peace]," but unfortunately Meridor, who supports such an arrangement, also casts doubt on its feasibility and favors hardening Israel's positions as compared to the proposals by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Meridor, who is also intelligence and atomic energy minister, has gone head to head with his six inner cabinet colleagues in his determination that an investigative committee on Operation Cast Lead be established. Unlike Defense Minister Ehud Barak's total recalcitrance and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's aggressive reaction, Meridor believes Israel must treat the allegations in the Goldstone Commission report seriously and investigate itself to extricate the country from its isolation in the international community.
In the same vein, Meridor strongly opposes Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's proposal to split the authority of the attorney general, seeing it as a real threat to the rule of law and the balance of power in Israeli democracy.
Meridor, who has feared for the resilience of the judicial system and the preservation of basic democratic values, worked (with Benny Begin) to prevent Daniel Friedmann from remaining justice minister and to stop the so-called Nakba bill, which would bar marking Israel's establishment as a Palestinian catastrophe.
It is important that Meridor make his views heard in the right-wing cabinet, in the face of ministers who oppose any peace agreement and seek to break apart the judicial system. It would be good if Meridor could also convince Netanyahu to listen to his advice, and not simply serve as a moderate spokesman for the government.
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