Who Needs Abu Mazen?

Every day that Rabin's heirs sit in a government that has put the peace process into formaldehyde is a holiday for Hamas. Nothing could be further from Yitzhak Rabin's worldview than the substitution of dictates for dialogue.

If anyone should have been upset by Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert's statement that the Oslo Accords helped to "sober up the public," which in turn paved the way for the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, it was not the "Likud rebels," who opposed the unilateral withdrawal. Olmert's words should have outraged the leaders of the Labor Party, who claim to be following in the footsteps of the prime minister who paid with his life for seeking a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from Yitzhak Rabin's worldview than the substitution of dictates for dialogue. Even in the darkest days of the suicide bombings, he viewed slamming the door in Yasser Arafat's face as giving in to terror.

In his last speech to the Knesset, a month before his murder, Rabin declared unequivocally: "We have no intention of halting our efforts for peace, even if additional acts of terror occur." He added: "We will not allow terror to defeat peace."

Olmert expressed regret over the fact that Rabin did not live to enjoy the fruits of his labor - that is, the withdrawal from Gaza, which was aimed at preventing a permanent-status agreement. But it is very doubtful that Rabin would have welcomed such a move. In that same Knesset speech, in which he presented the Oslo II Accord, Rabin stressed: "We are seeking a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states."

Shimon Peres and his colleagues in the Labor faction of the cabinet dare not avenge this insult to Rabin, for after having helped Ariel Sharon and Olmert leave Gaza without an agreement, they are collaborating with them in liquidating our Palestinian partner and lending a hand to the destruction of any chance for a permanent solution and an end to the conflict. Nothing could be further from this government's policy, as well as its actions on the ground, than the Labor Party's platform ever since Oslo, which proclaims that "it takes two to make peace" and calls for "conducting negotiations with the Palestinians as if there were no terror and fighting terror until it is destroyed as if there were no negotiations."

The Labor Party has first-hand knowledge about what the lack of a partner for a permanent-status arrangement means for Israel's political and security situation. The mantra "[former prime minister Ehud] Barak gave them everything and they chose violence" cost Labor control of the government. It is hard to believe party leaders do not understand that for the Palestinians as well, loss of faith in an Israeli partner to a permanent agreement plays into the hands of the nationalist and religious camp, which opposes compromise and speaks against reconciliation. It is inconceivable that the experienced Peres and generals such as Barak, Matan Vilnai, Amram Mitzna and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer do not understand that negotiating with Israel over a diplomatic solution is the cornerstone of Fatah's platform. Deprive Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) of the recognition the PLO received from Rabin in the Oslo Accords, and they have nothing to sell the Palestinian electorate.

And as if it were not enough that the Sharon government is not supplying the PA with the "big" goods - negotiations over the future of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a solution to the refugee problem - Israel is teaching the Palestinian public that Abu Mazen's policy of dialogue cannot even open the Gaza Strip for passage of food and raw materials. They see that the "heroes" of Hamas and Islamic Jihad got the Jews out of Gaza, while the nerds of Fatah go all the way to Washington and back again without even managing to put an end to the ongoing closure of the territories or to the assassinations and arrests.

Every day that Rabin's heirs sit in a government that has put the peace process into formaldehyde is a holiday for Hamas. The principal rival of Labor's partner in the Oslo Accords can claim that all Jews are the same: The first Sharon-Peres government destroyed the political and physical infrastructure of Arafat's government, and the second Sharon-Peres government is doing everything in its power to keep Abu Mazen's government from rehabilitating this infrastructure. Is it any wonder that Olmert, the hero of the Western Wall Tunnel affair and the builder of Har Homa, has the nerve to deck himself out in the Labor Party's abandoned feathers?