The Guardian February 7, 2001


Israeli elections: Neither Barak nor Sharon

In a recent statement the Israeli Communist Forum declared that the 1982 
crimes of Ariel Sharon, the Likud leader who is favoured to win next week's 
Israeli elections, do not justify support for Barak's crimes of this past 
year.

"All of us know full well the record of Sharon, Barak's rival", said the 
Forum's statement.

The statement went on to say:

We do not, and have no intention of forgetting, the crimes which Sharon 
committed during the Lebanon War, as well as on various other past 
occasions. Nor do we ignore Sharon's numerous racist and warlike 
statements, and his consistent opposition to all peace agreements and peace 
processes.

Nevertheless, all of these do not constitute a sufficient reason for the 
Arab population in Israel and the Jewish peace forces to give their vote to 
a man who committed very grave crimes in the past year.

These crimes included the mass killing of Palestinians in the Occupied 
Territories on a scale unparalleled even under the right-wing government 
which preceded Barak and the murder of 13 Arab citizens of Israel and the 
wounding of hundreds of others. They are heinous acts, the like of which 
have not been seen in Israel for decades.

Prime Minister Barak repeatedly claims to have offered, in his negotiations 
with the Palestinians, concessions more far-reaching than those made by any 
previous Israeli PM.

He does not, however, produce any official document stating with any kind 
of exactitude what these concessions are. At the same time he repeatedly 
commits acts which seriously sabotage the possibility of furthering the 
peace process.

Throughout the entire course of the negotiations, the Barak Government 
increased the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied 
Territories, in contravention of international law.

In fact, settlement extensions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as 
in the Golan Heights have been more rapid during Barak's term in office 
than under his right-wing predecessor. The Barak Government also failed to 
implement Israel's obligations under previous agreements with the 
Palestinians.

Oppression and carnage

In the past month, the Barak Government further escalated the oppression 
and carnage in the Occupied Territories, culminating in the criminal use of 
Death Squads which murdered 18 Palestinians. Among them was a peace-seeking 
dentist, whose murder astonished and horrified all Israeli peace activists.

The inhabitants of the territories are subjected to curfews, sieges of 
towns and villages and numerous other infringements upon their freedom, 
making their daily life extremely difficult.

These measures have already exacted a heavy toll in lives, including those 
of women and children. On several occasions ambulances were stopped at 
military checkpoints, even when carrying wounded persons or women in 
labour.

When asked about it on several recent occasions, Barak did not rule out the 
possibility of the Labor Party joining a "national unity government" 
together with the Likud after the elections. Nor did he exclude the 
possibility of himself serving as Defence Minister under Sharon!

During the past month Barak deliberately whipped up a war hysteria which 
even senior military officers criticised as completely baseless and derived 
from electoral considerations. Barak has revealed a tendency for dangerous 
adventurism, since inflammatory statements can well lead to provocative 
actions and escalate a real war.

During the Barak Government's year and half in office, the gap between rich 
and poor further widened and privatisations were carried out. Poverty and 
unemployment have risen to the highest levels we have known in many years.

We oppose voting for Ehud Barak which implies backing his murderous and 
failing policies.

Even at the present moment, with but a short time left until elections day, 
we reiterate our call upon Ehud Barak to effect a fundamental change in his 
policies in all spheres.

Only by such a change can Barak hope to regain support from a part of those 
who voted for him in the previous elections and who do not intend to repeat 
their vote this time. In the absence of such a change we see no reason for 
Barak to be supported again.

The Communist Forum's statement called upon voters to cast a blank ballot, 
thereby making a loud protest against the unacceptable policies of both 
candidates.

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