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.