Jerusalem Post columnist Sarah Honig writes relating to contrasting remarks made by Ehud Barak regarding the town of Beit El; one statement in May, 1998 as a prime minister candidate, and the other recently at the Herzliya Conference as defense minister in the government led by Likud prime minister Netanyahu:
“From here in Beit El to the people of Beit El and to all the citizens of the State of Israel: My party and I have clear red lines. We will remain in Beit El forever…. A united Jerusalem must remain under full and unequivocal Israeli sovereignty…. Under no circumstances will we return to the 1967 lines and there will be no foreign army west of the Jordan River.”
There was more: “I came here to see how the settlements have developed. It is heartening to see that there is so much growth and progress. There are beautiful projects here – the beauty isn’t only in the projects but is connected to the soul, to the soul of Israeli society.”
As The Jerusalem Post’s then-political correspondent, I was there on May 12, 1998. I heard Beit El residents suggesting – not entirely in jest – that they find a home for their visitor inside the settlement. As predictable, Peace Now excoriated him, issuing a statement that expressed “shock and dismay” at his heresy.
….At the recent Herzliya Conference [Barak] sternly warned that “lack of a solution to the problem of border demarcation within historic Eretz Yisrael – and not an Iranian bomb – is the most serious threat to Israel’s future.” In other words, failure to cede to Ramallah’s flimsy make-believe regime whatever it wishes – Beit El included – is a greater threat to Israel than Iranian nukes. No less…
Considering the deal he belatedly deems indispensable, there’s no way Beit El can stay Israeli…
The above pro-settler blandishments along with their subsequent precise reversals were both uttered – with equal confidence and seeming conviction – by the same Ehud Barak. He’s ever-adept at making whatever noises suit his purposes at any given juncture. When he strove to win the premiership, it suited him to woo the silent majority which, he accurately diagnosed, was hawkishly inclined.
Nowadays his chilling chides are also sounded for expedient motives. Our defense minister warns his own government (thereby subliminally accusing it of obstructionism) against the dire consequences of noncompliance with enemy demands.
It’s in Barak’s misguided interest to do so. He is fast losing support in what’s left of his waning party. Instead of pulling it bravely back to the activist political center, where Labor’s greatest strength resided historically, he seeks to mollify his left-wing internal opposition. To hold on to the remainder of its dubious support, he tries to posture as an ultra-dove….
Does Barak believe his own words?