As we sit at the Seder table on Passover, we will read about the children of Israel being liberated from their enslavement. Moses Ieads them out of Egypt and they begin a 40-year trek to the Promised Land, the Jewish homeland G-d promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The people of Ariel are their descendants. Here, in the heart of Biblical Israel, Israel's modern-day pioneers have built a new city from scratch. Ariel epitomizes the realization of that 2000 year old yearning to return to Zion and rebuild our national dream.
Recently, however, the people of Israel - and Ariel - have been faced with the most difficult events in our history. Increased terror and violence have wreaked havoc in our country.
Like you, the people of Ariel were shocked by the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. We were unable to accept the fact that a Jew would murder his Prime Minister. We expect such acts of violence in dictatorships, in the Arab states adjacent to Israel, but we never believed it could happen here. Together with all of Israel, we cried and mourned the death of our prime minister and swore we would never allow this kind of undemocratic act to happen again in Israel.
Approximately half of the Israeli population wanted a change of leadership. We opposed many of Rabin's policies, particularly those pertaining to the current peace process and the signing of the Oslo Accords, because they endanger not only the existence of the communities of Judea and Samaria, but the future of all of Israel. We wanted the change to come about democratically, however, through elections. Opposing ideologies can be expected and should be respected. Violence has no place in civilized political debate.
The aftermath of this tragedy is very disturbing.
Unfortunately, many left-wing Israelis, including ministers, Knesset members and representatives of Israel in the United States, have taken advantage of this most sensitive situation.
While the people of Israel were at their most vulnerable, these Jewish leaders chose to reap political gains from this tragedy.
They connected the murder to the political debate between those that see strategic and Biblical importance in retaining the Land of Israel, on the one hand, and those that are willing to trade their land away.
Worse, they tried to lay the blame on religious Zionists, on "settlers," and on immigrants from the United States.
This collective indictment endangers the very principles upon which the Jewish Homeland was founded.
We have consistently made every effort to prevent any expression of either physical or verbal violence on the part of anyone, and the left was as guilty of provocative, inciting language as anyone else. We have worked to protect basic democratic principles like freedom of speech. But the temptation to take advantage of the current situation was apparently too great, and Israel got its first taste of something similar to McCarthyism - the blatant and random laying of blame primarily on the religious community. A stigma was placed on an entire sector of the population - all for political gain in the upcoming election. Instead of fostering unity during this difficult time, the Left has widened the gap, turning Jew against Jew, and perpetuating hatred and intolerance. This should be a time for tolerance and patience, of recognition that while the country may be split on vital issues of security and foreign affairs, we cannot forget the raison d'etre of the Jewish Homeland.
While the Media focused on the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister and the associated rift among the Israeli people, little attention was paid as Israeli troops withdrew from major portions of Judea and Samaria. Our soldiers left Jenin, Tulkarem, Shechem, Kalkilya, Ramallah and Bethlehem before Palestinian elections took place in January 1996. Before the end of the month, not only will the IDF abandon Hevron, but it will withdraw from 400 Arab villages and the surrounding countryside throughout Judea and Samaria. The dangers of this plan become increasingly apparent as we examine the enclosed map.
Area "A" is marked in brown. These are the cities from which the IDF has completely withdrawn as per the Oslo Accords. These areas are off-limits to Israeli security personnel. You will note that some of the Jewish communities in the region are adjacent to these Arab cities. For example, Kadim is only 500 yards from Jenin. A terrorist from Jenin can easily slip into Kadim, attack residents and run back to his home. IDF soldiers - even in "hot pursuit" - would not be allowed to enter Jenin to capture the terrorists.
It is important to note that security safeguards, promised to the communities adjacent to Jenin, have not been carried out.
Fences have not been reinforced and new fencing has not been completed. Security peripheral lighting and watch towers have not yet been constructed.
These issues are provided for clearly in the agreement and yet, have not been carried out.
Similar signs of the lack of proper security precautions in light of the IDF withdrawal are evident throughout Judea and Samaria. There are no check-points at the exit points from Area A (Arab cities under Palestinian control) to prevent Palestinian forces from entering Area C (Jewish communities under Israeli control.) The government is fully aware that Palestinian soldiers put on civilian clothes and travel freely into Area C, but is in such a hurry to implement the agreement that it ignores the security needs of the area which should precede any IDF withdrawal.
Area A is totally under Palestinian jurisdiction. both in terms of civil administration and military control. You may recall that this so-called Peace Process began with "Gaza and Jericho first". We have now created six additional havens for terrorists, in essence, six more Gazas.
Area B, shown in orange on the map, is under Palestinian jurisdiction with regard to civil matters and under joint Palestinian - Israeli control with regard to security, at least during the first phase of this interim agreement.
In this area, numerous questions regarding security remain unanswered. While the Palestinian Police are to have authority only over Palestinians or over events relating to public order, we have yet to see concrete rules and regulations for how Israel and the IDF will deal with the problem of terrorism.
Area C, the white areas of the map, continues to remain under Israeli control except for civilian Arab matters. For the time being, such issues as land, archeological sites, building, nature resources, water and electricity remain in Israeli hands. Jewish holy sites in areas "A" or "B" will, at this stage, remain under Israeli control. Rachel's Tomb, the Tomb of the patriarchs, the Synagogue in Jericho are guarded by IDF soldiers. Access to them, however, is on roads patrolled jointly by Israel and the P.L.O..
It is important to point out that this new map of Israel is only temporary. Today, areas A and B comprise almost 30% of Judea and Samaria. By mid-1996, after the P.L.O. has changed its covenant (assuming it will), there will be a further withdrawal. Brown and orange areas will expand, though little is yet known about the extent of Palestinian expansion in the next phase.
The Likud government's autonomy plan would have created Arab islands in Israeli-controlled territory.
The Labor government has created Jewish islands and has handed the responsibility for security and control of the roads between the Jewish communities to the P.L.O..
Clearly, this creates built-in security problems and will only lead to increased terrorism and the spilling of more Jewish blood.
We are only in the interim stage now, but in May, talks on the permanent status will begin. While the government insists that the majority of "settlements" will remain in place and has clearly stated that Ariel will always be a part of Israel, almost no assistance is forthcoming.
Israel has signed an international agreement. The autonomy created by this agreement is irreversible, even if the Likud returns to power. The signatures of the United States and Russia have added additional weight, and so a certain amount of damage has been done.
The Likud party, however, will only honor the agreement if our so-called partner in peace - Arafat - does the same. We will not look away as the P.L.O. breaches the agreement time and again Mr. Arafat continues to call for "Jihad" - a holy war against Israel - and has already given broad hints that the P.L.O.. Covenant, calling for the destruction of Israel, will not be changed.
The Oslo Accords pose a very real danger, not only to Ariel, and not only to Judea and Samaria.
Rather, they endanger the future of the entire State of Israel. A quick look at the map leaves little room for doubt that the Oslo Accords are laying the ground- work for a Palestinian State.
In fact, it becomes obvious that if not for the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, the towns and villages dotting the white areas around cities like Ariel, in fact the entire region, would be colored dark brown.
Both the Israeli and American governments oppose the establishment of a Palestinian State. Ariel and the other Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria have been the obstacle to a Palestinian State and continue to stand on the front line of Israel's defense. A withdrawal to the pre-67 borders of Israel will leave a Jewish Homeland that is not merely vulnerable but totally indefensible. To maintain secure borders and a strong line of defense, we must ensure a strong Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. The borders of Israel will only encompass the areas where Jews live.
This year, Ariel celebrates its l8th year - CHAI. And how appropriate that is, for Ariel gives life to the entire region. The largest city in Samaria and the regional capital, Ariel is surrounded by numerous smaller satellite communities. These communities not only depend on Ariel for many essential services, but they derive strength from its stability and growth. A weakened Ariel will have a negative effect on the entire region. Never was our young city more strategically important than it is today.
I turn to you, not only as a Member of Knesset and Mayor of Ariel, but as a Zionist who, like you, understands that the fate of the Jewish people is intertwined with that of Israel, that a strong Israel depends on the continued growth and development of communities like Ariel. Help us keep Israel strong.
Member of Knesset
Mayor of Ariel
|Large map of Oslo Accords - Phase II (150k - about 2 minutes to download)|
|Small map of Oslo Accords - Phase II (37k - can't read city names)|
Back to the Ariel Home Page