Last November, you led our government to freeze construction in Jewish
settlements for a full 10 months. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called
the decision “unprecedented.”
The official policy goal was to induce the
Palestinian Authority to negotiate directly with the State of Israel. But the
Palestinians refused, armed with excuses.
It was only arm-twisting from
the Obama administration that brought them to negotiate in the last month of the
freeze. Now, despite the freeze’s failure to induce negotiations in the first
place, there is talk, even demands, of extending the freeze. This must not
Ultimately, the freeze is based on the big lie – that the
settlements are the cause of the Israeli- Arab/Palestinian conflict and only
removing them and creating a Palestinian state will achieve peace. But the
Jewish-Arab conflict began long before the creation of the
In 1920, the first organized Arab pogrom of Jewish sectors
of Jerusalem occurred. Until Israel’s establishment, many more anti-Jewish riots
and other attacks were perpetrated.
In 1948, the Arabs of the region,
including the Palestine Arabs, waged war on the Jewish community, rejecting a
partition plan which allotted them more territory than the disputed territories
In 1964, three years before Israel’s capture of the
territories, the PLO, the terrorist umbrella group which became the Palestinian
Authority, was formed with explicit aim of destroying Israel.
Nor has the
conflict dissipated with the removal of settlements or steps toward creating a
After Israel signed the first Oslo Accord in 1993 and
created a provisional Palestinian government, terrorism increased five-fold. In
2005, when Israel evacuated Gaza and destroyed settlements, Hamas and Hizbullah
grew in power and in daring.
Mr. Prime Minister, this is nothing you have
not yourself recognized. On countless occasions you have defended settlements
and rejected their removal. Just before elections you asked, “Why uproot these
children and their families...? So rockets can be fired from here to there?” You
are also the chairman of the Likud party, founded by Menachem Begin and
successor to the movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Your father served as
Jabotinsky’s personal secretary. My grandfather succeeded him in that same role.
Just as Jabotinsky’s principles were passed down two generations to me, I am
sure they were passed down to you.
Both Jabotinsky and Begin opposed
two-state solutions because the country was rightfully ours and partition would
lead to more bloodshed, possibly our destruction.
Their principles are
inscribed in the “general purposes” section of the Likud’s constitution. It
defines the Likud as “a national-liberal party which advocates... the integrity
of the Jewish homeland and strives to achieve the goals of... cultivating love
of the Land of Israel in the heart of the people” and “[s]afeguarding the right
of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel as an eternal, inalienable right,
working diligently to settle and develop all parts of the land of Israel, and
extending national sovereignty to them.”
Mr. Prime Minister, when you
joined the Likud, you signed a declaration affirming that you identified with
Yet the freeze you enacted diametrically opposes
It inhibits the settlement, development and extension of
sovereignty to all parts of the country. It encourages the partition, not the
integrity of the homeland.
It cultivates enmity toward the land,
enforcing the belief that our connection to it is a hindrance to
It is a slap in the face to those whose unwavering commitment
forms the foundation of the Likud.
STILL, MOST of us who believe in the
Likud’s principles have remained silent to give you the benefit of the doubt,
room to lead and to maintain the unity of the party. We reasoned that 10 months,
though “unprecedented,” was not too high a price to pay.
An extension of
the freeze, however, means a potentially indefinite period determined by the
pressure applied by a US president who sees settlements as a cause of conflict
and who lists rapprochement with the Islamic-Arab world a top foreign policy
Admittedly, the Palestinians have already stated their intent
to use the freeze’s end as an excuse to terminate negotiations. But even if it
continues, they will find excuses.
Mr. Prime Minister, in ending the
freeze on schedule you can justifiably claim that the freeze was always meant to
end. When asked about extending the freeze in the US, you yourself responded,
“We have done enough.”
But if you extend the freeze, you will have
transformed it into a new precondition for negotiations.
This would be a
major victory for the Palestinians for which they gave nothing in
Tactical considerations aside, you gave your word that the freeze
would end on schedule. While enacting a partial freeze, as some have suggested,
is technically not the same as extending the freeze, as prime minister you must
not nickel and dime the public out of your promises.
The Likud too must
not be perceived this way. I am confident that the Likud is the wellspring of
Israel’s greatest leadership, but lately the public has been left
Mr. Prime Minister, surely you are mindful of those who call
you “weak.” When people say, “Be strong,” you reply, “Don’t worry, I am
But will that be true if you cannot muster the strength to end a
self-imposed freeze on the schedule you yourself set? Be strong and
End this freeze.
The writer is an officer of Likud