Only a referendum can preserve Israel´s social contract (ISRAEL INSIDER COMMENTARY) By Dr. Aaron Lerner 01/27/05)
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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon brought his Likud party a landslide
victory in an election campaign that focused on one issue --
unilateral withdrawal. Sharon explicitly and emphatically campaigned
against unilateral withdrawal.
Retreat supporters can roll their eyes and repeat a thousand times
that Sharon´s "painful concession for peace" actually
meant "unilateral withdrawal" -- but it was a lie the first time they
made the assertion and it is a lie today - no matter which Likud MK
or minister repeats it.
The hundreds of thousands of citizens who voted Likud because Sharon
ridiculed his rival´s proposal for unilateral withdrawal weren´t
idiots who misunderstood. They were betrayed.
And again -- let´s make this clear: the idea of holding a national
referendum on such a critical and momentous move as the uprooting of
thousands of Israelis from their communities and retreating to allow
for the formation of some kind of sovereign Palestinian entity within
arms reach of scores of communities and strategic targets is neither
new or novel.
Over a decade ago Yitzhak Rabin endorsed the national referendum
concept when he committed to having a plebiscite on any withdrawal
from the Golan
and the prime ministers who followed him repeated that commitment.
Rabin´s national referendum proposal was embraced by many of the same
politicians who today claim that a plebiscite is out of the question.
Retreat supporter can threaten a thousand times that if a national
referendum is held on the "disengagement" that it would open the
floodgates for referenda on various controversial proposals that
enjoy the support of the majority of Israelis but could never make it
through the give and take dynamics of the parliamentary system. But
these retreat supporters know damn well that a plebiscite could only
be held for a proposal that already was approved by the Knesset.
A national referendum on disengagement would not bypass the Knesset.
It would simply serve to assure, after the Knesset has endorsed such
a momentous and irreversible program, that the will of the People
regarding the program is truly honored.
But what about the polls? The "will of the People" isn´t expressed by
a random sample of 510 adult Israelis hurriedly answering a pollster
while the TV is blasting and the kids are asking for dinner. It is
citizens going to the polling stations at the culmination of a great
Israel had just such a great national debate on unilateral withdrawal
in the 2003 elections and roundly rejected the disengagement
Denying the People the opportunity to express its will today would
represent such a gross and cynical betrayal of the social compact
that binds us together that I shudder to think of the consequences.
(© 2001-2005 Koret Communications Ltd. 01/27/05)
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