The Real Insult

The reckless policy of boycotting the PA, including the doctors, teachers and clerks on its payroll, upsets the balance of authority in the territories and makes the chance for a solution more remote.

If anybody should be insulted by the heads of Kadima, it is the chairman of the stevedores' committee at the Ashdod port. Comparing him to Amir Peretz does this man, who presumably represents the interests of his voters faithfully, a disservice.

This is not about the hasty retreat the Labor chairman beat from his original position regarding Avigdor Lieberman's joining the cabinet. Nor does it involve his attempt to establish a government with the right. Peretz's failure was in being insulted over insignificant details when he had a real reason: The declaration of Kadima's leader that his victory speech constitutes "guidelines" for the new government is an insult to the intelligence of his senior partner.

Even if one ignores Ehud Olmert's boastfulness and accepts the assumption that in any case reality is stronger than any coalition agreement, it could be expected that the speech/platform would at least have some connection to the reality at the time when it was written. Olmert declared that there is no substitute for a stable peace agreement achieved through negotiation. Who more than he knows that the outgoing government spared no effort to prove that there was no Palestinian partner for the agreement? Now of all times, with Hamas controlling the Palestinian government, Olmert has turned Mahmoud Abbas into a partner for a permanent agreement. That call lasted less than two weeks, until Olmert again removed Abbas from the equation in an interview in the Washington Post - Abbas, who wants to take part in the political game in order to bring in Hamas, which refuses to accept its rules.

Olmert also said he is willing to give up parts of "the beloved land of Israel" in order to allow the Palestinians to live in peace and tranquility in a state of their own. He called on Abbas to issue a similar statement and pledged that if the Palestinians would do what was required of them, "we would sit at the negotiating table to create a new reality in our region." The reality in our region is that a few years ago the Palestinian leadership issued a statement recognizing Israel's right to exist in peace and security, as required by the road map. Moreover, the March 2002 Arab League conference in Beirut announced the willingness of the Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders and a just and agreed-on solution to the problem of the refugees based on UN Resolution 197.

How does giving up parts of the beloved land of Israel dovetail with Olmert's statement regarding the annexation of area E-1, which will cut the Palestinian state in two? And what does the declaration about agreements attained through negotiation have to do with the one-sided pledge that Ariel will remain "an inseparable part of the State of Israel"?

The reckless policy of boycotting the PA, including the doctors, teachers and clerks on its payroll, upsets the balance of authority in the territories and makes the chance for a solution more remote. The individual who occupies the office of prime minister is responsible for collectively punishing the Palestinian population for voting Hamas in. This policy not only goes against the call to negotiate a final solution; it is directed toward a unilateral return to the Gaza Strip and continuing the occupation of the West Bank.

The proposal that Peretz take up the defense portfolio raises the suspicion that Olmert wants to do to him what Ariel Sharon did to Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who as chairman of the Labor Party carried out the dirty labor in the territories from the defense minister's offices.

Thus, Peretz should be insulted by the attempt to turn the victory speech of one party head into the platform of a multi-party government. He should condition his partnership on formulating concrete government guidelines, first and foremost the conducting of real negotiations on a permanent arrangement with any Palestinian who agrees to the 1967 borders, exchanges of territories, and a target date for withdrawal from the settlements, with or without an agreement. If Peretz gives up on these demands, it is not at all certain that the Ashdod stevedores would elect him as their committee head.