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Saturday, January 11, 2003
 
ELECTION NIGHT UPDATE

Well, there's lots of exciting things going on here. Headline of the evening: Arafat urges halt on attacks before January 28
elections.
. This is the wording of the English Ha'aretz.

If you read the Ha'aretz report, you'll find the following statement reported:

In a Palestinian cabinet statement released Saturday, Arafat was quoted as saying he rejected "all acts of violence that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians"

"Attacks against Israeli civilians have severely harmed our cause in the international arena and in Israeli public opinion," the statement said.

"As the Israeli election date is getting closer, we appeal to all our people to practice self-restraint."


Later in the article, they note:

Arafat also urged militants fighting in the uprising "to consider the national interest and not to be dragged in by Israeli provocations and escalations in this critical, sensitive time which the Middle East region is going through."



This is an edited of the statement as it appears in the Palestinian press (I have read the report appearing in the Authority's Ramallah newspaper Al-Ayyam). There we read:

"The Authority announces and confirms its rejection of all acts of violence that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and attacks against Israeli civilians have already caused considerable damage to our cause, both on the international level and on the level of Israeli public opinion and the peace forces within it.

“During this period, in which the Israeli elections are approaching, we turn to all of the people of our nations to take on [lit: ‘adorn themselves’] with self-restrained and protect the national interest, and not to be drawn after the Israeli provocation and escalation, in this critical [or ‘delicate’] and sensitive period through which the Middle East is going, when the Israeli government is using every way and means to exploit this critical international and regional situation to pursue its military and political plan against our brave people and its just cause”.


The tone of the article is much stronger in the Arabic version than in Ha'aretz's reporting of it. Moreover, Ha'aretz removes the reference to the Israeli peace camp. This is clearly not co-incidental.


PUTTING THE CARDS ON THE TABLE

Sharon appears to be in trouble, and has been forced to place documentation of his personal finances within the public realm. However, Sharon is not the only public figure under investigation. Weitzman's dealings were never fully discussed in the public arena, and Barak's fictitious Non-Profit Making organisations are still under discussion. Vote buying in the Labour Central Committee is still under investigation, and we haven't heard the last word on Yossi Beilin's European funding, or Mitznah's alleged back-handers from Haifa property developers. Not to mention Labour-beloved Ginnosar and his handling of Arafat's ill-gotten gains.

I think that in these circumstances, there's only one thing for it: all politicians under suspicion will have to present his or her personal accounts for public scrutiny, including all external sources of funding. This should prove to be of interest to the Israeli public, and will doubtless raise a good few eyebrows regarding the income of our public leaders. It will be particularly interesting to see how much money socialist leaders such as Beilin are making and spending every year. All those secret meetings and conferences abroad must be quite expensive, I imagine.

On the subject of Beilin’s secret meetings, his illegal meetings and agreements with PLO figures in the early 1990s have still not been investigated. Beilin, who was not a member of the government and not acting on official business, held negotiations with PLO leaders prior to the Israeli elections that brought Rabin to power. This was a criminal offense, but has somehow escaped the Attorney General's attention. It would be nice to get all these corruptions investigated once and for all.


CHESHIN

By the letter of the law, Cheshin may well have been correct to cut off Sharon's broadcast. But was it wise? As Dickens wrote, sometimes "the law is a ass". Cheshin could have allowed the broadcast to run and then deducted the "propaganda time" from the Likud broadcasts. Instead, he "proved" to a large proportion of the Israeli voting population that the judiciary in this country is "left-wing", and ultimately undermined the rule of law.

Similarly, the Israeli news services have been reporting that the Central Election Committee has banned an election broadcast by the Arab party "Raam" because it contained words of support for the Intifada. I think it should have been broadcast, and then all those involved in its production arrested and charged with incitement to murder, treason, etc. After all, that's what would happen if an ordinary citizen were to call for violent attacks against another individual. I'm sure that the whole incident will just be dropped in the end.


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