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Beilin: Sharon plan ’completely unrealistic’

Beilin: Sharon plan ’completely unrealistic’
By Gil Hoffman

JERUSALEM (January 5) - The heads of Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s campaign team slammed Likud candidate Ariel Sharon’s diplomatic plan yesterday, calling it completely unrealistic and a recipe for war.

”Either Sharon thinks the Israelis are stupid or the Palestinians are stupid, or both, if he presents a plan like this and expects it to be taken seriously,” Beilin said in response to the plan published in yesterday’s The Jerusalem Post. ”Now people who read it will know what a tragedy it would be if a dangerous man like Sharon is elected, even if it’s only for a short period of time.”

The plan calls for the establishment of a non-belligerency accord without a set of specific deadlines and timetables, but with a mutually agreed-upon set of expectations. Sharon said the plan would allow Israel to work in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority toward the establishment of a Palestinian entity.

According to the plan, all settlements would be kept, Jerusalem would remain united, and Israel would retain full control of its eastern and western security zones, the routes connecting the Jordan Valley with the coastal plan, and its vital underground aquifers. Only after the Palestinians agree to these points would Israel gradually ease security measures and consider concessions on both sides.

Beilin, who was one of the architects of the Oslo accords, said that if the plan becomes the diplomatic policy of Israel, it would spell disaster for its relations with the Palestinians and other countries in the region.

”It’s a good plan that I would back - if Israel was negotiating with itself,” said Beilin, who is in charge of Barak’s public relations campaign with Arab voters. ”Sharon for more than 50 years hasn’t noticed that we have neighbors and they have to be spoken to in the language of peace and not war. It is a plan that has never been relevant and is completely unrealistic.”

Sharon said yesterday that Palestinians should support him, ”because they know that with me they will at least know what the red lines are.” On a tour of the Jordan Valley on Wednesday, Sharon said his plan is ”the only way of achieving a lasting peace in the region.”

Barak public relations campaign co-chairmen MKs Elie Goldschmidt and Ran Cohen also were critical of the plan, saying it contradicts his campaign slogan, ”Only Sharon will bring peace.”

”It is too bad that Sharon is trying to convince the people of Israel to vote for him with illusions and fantasies that have no connection to the reality we are living with,” Goldschmidt said. ”The people shouldn’t buy his idea that it is possible to keep all the settlements and still bring peace. It’s like promising snow in the summer.”

Goldschmidt said that if Sharon is elected on the basis of the plan and then changed his mind and offered concessions, the extreme Right would bring him down as they did former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1999, after he gave up 13 percent of the West Bank in the Wye agreement with the Palestinians.

”As someone who knows Sharon for many years in the IDF and in politics, it is very clear that this is a plan that will lead to a blowup of violence,” Cohen said. ”Maybe the plan can be used to reach peace with the settlers and [National Union leader] Rehavam Ze’evi, but that’s about it. Among the Palestinian people, I don’t think these is even a coffee server in Metzudat Ze’ev [Likud headquarters] who would agree to such a plan.”

Sharon’s spokeswoman, Odelia Karmon, said in response to the criticism that, ”We have already learned that Barak’s policies lead to violence and a deterioration of the security situation in the region. Sharon, who has many years of experience in security matters and who has dealt with complicated situations, offers a sensible plan that will ensure all citizens of Israel a long-lasting peace based on reciprocity.”

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