A Voice

“The Oslo agreement took Yasser Arafat out of the dustbin of history and gave him the tools to destroy Israel. If we accept that, then they should put a fence around Israel and declare it an insane asylum.”

The words and sentiments are those of Elyakim Haetzni, arguably the most eloquent and persuasive spokesman for Israel’s nationalist right wing. During a recent visit to Los Angeles, Haetzni, a veteran leader of the settlers’ movement in Judea and Samaria, laid out his agenda with considerable passion, leavened by touches of humor.

Haetzni believes that Israel should grant Arafat a “generous” autonomy in Gaza and the West Bank territory he now controls, as well as close economic cooperation.

After that, he would offer only minimal further territorial concessions, assure Israel’s security and water rights in Judea and Samaria, and not only preserve but greatly expand existing Jewish settlements.

To realize this policy, Israel should dig in its heels, regardless of pressure from the United Nations and Washington, Haetzni told the Israel Commission of the Jewish Community Relations Committee.

Haetzni, a lawyer and wounded combat veteran, who represented the short-lived right-wing Tehiya Party in the Knesset, doubted that the United States or the United Nations would impose sanctions if Israel took a clear and determined stand.

But even under the threat of international displeasure, Israel must not retreat. “There are limits to our compliance with America, when our national existence is at stake,” he said. “We have now reached this point and must draw the line.”

Pointing to statements by Arafat and his aides that they would never forgo Jerusalem as part of a Palestinian state, Haetzni declared that even Yossi Sarid, leader of the dovish Meretz Party, would fight to preserve an undivided Jewish Jerusalem.

“I feel no less about Hebron,” said Haetzni, who lives in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.

And what if his policy forced Israel to go to war, Haetzni was asked.

For an answer, he harked back to 1948, when David Ben-Gurion was told by his military advisers that if Israel decided to fight for its independence, the odds were 50-50 between annihilation and survival.

“Ben-Gurion was willing to take on the Arabs, Britain and the United States to fight for our national existence,” he said, clearly implying that the present generation could do no less.

But even the militant Haetzni was startled when a listener suggested that Israel simply destroy the Palestinians to ensure Jewish dominance.

“There is not one party in Israel that advocates solving our problems by committing atrocities against civilians,” Haetzni responded sternly. “Once we turn into savages, then what is our whole struggle about?”

During his visit, Haetzni also addressed a community meeting at Beth Jacob Congregation, and the Shalom Lodge of B’nai B’rith. His appearances were sponsored by Pro Israel, an umbrella group of seven organizations that support the settlers’ movement, an undivided Jerusalem, and is “working to reverse the disastrous effects of Jewish and Zionist erosion in Israel and the United


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