Oops, We Made a Mistake

Suppose Peretz, Peres, Beilin and the left were to wake up tomorrow and confess their sins: How many Knesset seats would their parties win?

The people of Israel, according to both Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima visionary Haim Ramon, will decide tomorrow whether it is for or against the cancer. The one argues that Hamas is a cancer in the body of the nation and promises to excise it by force, and the other says that control over the territories is a malignant growth that must be removed without delay. Luckily for them, the dreaded disease has not affected either of them, and we hope they never have any experience with it. Anyone who has suffered from cancer knows that a malignant growth is not removed by force, but rather with the utmost caution, lest the scalpel also slash at healthy tissue. He also knows that it is important that the surgeon get rid of the last of the unhealthy cells in order to limit the danger that the cancer metastasize or strike again.

The voters for the Likud and the parties to the right of it do not need Netanyahu's diagnosis. As far as they are concerned, there is no difference between Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat), Abu Mazen (Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas) and (Hamas leader Musa) Abu Marzouq. As far as they are concerned, every Palestinian who refuses to bow down to the Israeli occupier was and remains a malignant tumor. They are clinging to their belief that the territories are our heritage from the Patriarchs and/or a strategic asset and that they must not be relinquished under any circumstances.

On the other hand, the Likud and Labor deserters who have joined together in Kadima are being accorded in the mainstream of the Israeli public the status attributed to "whoso confesseth and forsaketh (his sins) shall have mercy" (Proverbs 27:13). The former have awakened from the delusion of the greater Land of Israel and the latter have sloughed off the dream of an Israel that lives in peace with its neighbors. Therefore, they are asking that the voter treat them with awe and reverence.

Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have indeed fessed up, somewhat, to their mistake. The disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the plan for convergence inside the eastern border were designed, ostensibly, to atone for the sin of the occupation and cover up the folly of the settlements. However, the reality on the ground and Kadima's map show that at best they are admitting to a small part of the guilt of the occupation. Anyone who sees the occupation as an advanced cancer does not send out secondary growths into Area A-1, which is intended to slice through the center of the West Bank, and does not declare his intention to nurture the fatal Ariel bloc, which will slice through it in the north. The siege of the Gaza Strip and the ignoring of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who is standing alone in face of Hamas, are testimony to the fact that the ruling party has not learned the lesson of the "consciousness searing" policy and the "no partner" perception.

After his enthusiastic support for the evacuation of Gush Katif, it is possible to forgive Olmert for having built Har Homa in the midst of the peace process and even for the Western Wall Tunnel adventure, which cost the lives of 15 Israeli soldiers and dozens of Palestinians. But there is a huge difference between forgiveness and putting an entire country into the hands of a group that has misled so many people, for so long, on such existential issues.

Supposing that Labor Party leader MK Amir Peretz and Meretz leader Yossi Beilin were to wake up in the morning, apologize for the mistakes they made over the years and admit that the Oslo agreement and the Geneva accords were nothing but an illusion, that the Palestinians do not want a two-state agreement, that it is a shame about the hundreds of victims of terror and that the time has come to annex the territories: How many Knesset seats would their parties win?

And Shimon Peres: When was he mistaken and when was he right - when he resigned from Mapai and went over to Rafi, or when he came home; when he planted a tree in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra or when he decided to support the evacuation of isolated settlements; when he signed the Oslo agreement or when he lent a hand to eliminating the Palestinian Authority?

Maybe in a few months he will change his mind and offer his services to Meretz. Who remembers that only five years ago, after his good friend from the seventh floor of Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem took a stroll on the Temple Mount, Peres begged former Meretz chairman Yossi Sarid to support him (Peres, Peres) for prime minister against Sharon and the incumbent Ehud Barak?

Ramon is asking a cancer-stricken country to elect for itself a doctor who during 39 years of occupation, minus two, was mistaken in his diagnosis and prescribed for his patient a medication that caused the tumor to spread. Would he himself, and we wish him the best of health, put his own fate into the hands of such a doctor?