Mitzna: Sharon Prefers Settlers to Security

In the wake of Sunday evening's terror attack in Tel Aviv, Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna yesterday blamed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with endangering Israeli residents by failing to erect a border fence in the West Bank. Mitzna attributed Sharon's lack of action to his ideological allegiance with the Jewish settlers living beyond the 1967 Green Line.

"There's no fence because political considerations are preventing the construction of a fence," Mitzna told students at the Sha'arei Mishpat College in Hod Hasharon. "There's no fence because Sharon is committed to Greater Israel. There's no fence because Sharon is first of all committed to the settlers and not to the security of the residents of Israel. The serious terror attack demonstrates once again that the residents of the State of Israel are being abandoned."

Mitzna noted that the prime minister can no longer blame the Labor Party - his erstwhile partner in the national unity government - for preventing him from implementing his policies. Even putting aside the question of whether to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, "it's possible to take action," Mitzna insisted, "but nothing is being done." For example, he added, "There's a fence in Gaza and no terror attacks come from there."

The Labor Party's candidate for prime minister also repeated his attack against the Likud for alleged corruption. "We're not afraid of terror or the threat from Iraq," he declared, but the political culture of "the party in power" is a source of deep consternation.

"We all stand in shock. Sharon manages the state like the Godfather, and the government is the extended family," Mitzna said.

The Likud campaign staff argued in response that the danger to Israel's security stems primarily from the fact that Mitzna and the Labor Party are ready to pursue a policy of "unilateral surrender, defeatist negotiations under fire and the return of Arafat as a party at the negotiation table."