Published in The Jerusalem Post on November 10, 2002
They say that an interim government is a weak, immobilized entity; powerless to make substantive policy changes.
Nevertheless, in my opinion there is ample room for the provisional Sharon-Netanyahu-Mofaz government to set a few things in order. Here’s ten tips for our prime minister, and the new foreign and defense ministers:
1. Stop calling Israelis who live over the irrelevant Green Line “settlers” – a purposefully-deprecating term that legitimates Palestinian terrorist hunt-and-shoot operations against 250,000 Jews. This fleeting government is not going to decide our future borders. But at least government spokespeople can begin to use the language of “rights” when defending the country to foreigners – *Jewish* historical, religious and national rights to Judea and Samaria.
2. Either significantly boost the budget for the so-called security fence along the “seam line” — so that it might *really* have a chance of proving effective — or freeze the misadventure. At present, the seam line administration in the Defense Ministry says that it needs another NIS 400 million just to finish the first section of the fence from Salam to Kfar Kassem, on top of NIS 600 million already invested. This doesn’t include any funds for manpower to patrol the line, for high-tech surveillance equipment or for maintenance – without which the fence will be totally ineffectual.
3. Settle for nothing less than overwhelming, sweeping, almost cosmic reform of the corrupt Palestinian Authority before even approaching a discussion of political “road maps” for the future. Don’t let European or American intermediaries hoodwink you into accepting the nonsensical notion that anybody appointed by Arafat ever will have real control. Stay away, in particular, from Arafat’s new Interior Minister, Hani al-Hassan, who we remember as one of the most radical, nasty anti-propagandists of the 1970s and 1980s – and who now is peddling the “okay-to-kill-settlers” line.
4. Transfer no tax monies to the PA! The US is still pushing us to release into Yasser Arafat’s coffers some $1.6 billion in various taxes and customs duties collected by the Finance Ministry on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. I say: the notion that Israel “owes” *anything* to Arafat is both outrageous and absurd. *Aderabba*, just the opposite is true! Arafat’s regime owes us a *lot* more money than we supposedly “owe” it. The PA and its global supporters should pay, in hard cash, for the economic and financial damages to Israel over the past 27 months caused by Palestinian terrorism.
5. Promptly fire anybody in the Shimon Peres-Avi Gil Foreign Ministry that can’t or won’t bring himself to vigorously defend Israel’s tough anti-terror, and proud foreign policy, line. Especially bureaucrats who leak nasty gossip about Netanyahu. The people paid to be our diplomats, especially abroad, and the academics sent abroad on speaking tours by the ministry, should hew to the government hasbara line, or pack it in. From experience, I know that there is significant house-cleaning to be done.
6. Go after the IBA and ITV. Force senior personnel changes meant to re-introduce Zionism as a belief system at these media fortresses. Don’t be ashamed of taking such steps openly, even now, despite predictable howling by the press and imperious legal types – who will call it “improper” in a “working, civil democracy”. Netanyahu made a big mistake in his term as prime minister by not acting forthrightly in this regard.
7. This is an easy one. Thank G-d, I don’t think we’ll anymore have to hear the arrogant political line, which Shimon Peres used towards the end of every interview and debate, about the Clinton Plan being “the inevitable, inescapable and eventual outline of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, no matter what else anyone thinks”. Ugh!
8. Shut everybody up about Iraq. Sharon repeatedly has made this call, but now it’s time for serious enforcement. Impose a personal fine of $100,000 on any minister or military official who uses the word “Iraq” in public conversation or who relates to Israel’s strategic planning and options for the Gulf War.
9. Start talking-up the need to go after Iran, once Iraq is liberated. Teheran is at least as great a sponsor of regional and Palestinian terror as Baghdad has been. The Ayatollahs make no apologies about their goals in obtaining weapons of mass destruction – to hit the Zionist enemy. Netanyahu and Mofaz can play lead roles here.
10. When fighting terrorism and responding to the Palestinian brutalities of recent days, act as if you were not an interim government. Keep American Gulf War concerns in mind – don’t convulse the region right now with Richter-level military operations against the PA – but don’t let the temporary nature of the election period hamstring you in doing what is necessary to protect Israeli lives!