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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 20, 1996 V4, #110
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Basic Rules on How to Rule
Opinion by Haggai Segal

The happiness of the nationalist camp - the first of its kind for four summers now--is mixed with a bit of concern, as a result of some of our past experience. Hundreds of thousands of voters who prayed for Netanyahu's victory, and who recited the "she-hecheyanu" blessing when the final outcome became known, are now turning to their Creator with an updated prayer: Let Likud Government II not repeat the mistakes of Likud Government I.

The major mistakes of Likud I were made within the first 100 days of its coming to power, in the summer of 1977, and in essence caused the "revolution" to be wasted. Menachem Begin headed straight for political targets instead of dealing with internal problems, turned his back on the idealistic wing of his camp (Gush Emunim), and hesitated to fully implement the mandate that was entrusted to him. He longed to rid himself of his "fighter" image, and therefore formed a sort of national unity government with Moshe Dayan, and began a relationship with Anwar Sadat. The consequences quickly followed, and the stage was set for the Oslo process.

Benjamin Netanyahu is endowed with all of the abilities needed to implement the new "revolution," and to prevent the repetition of many mistakes of the past. In order to lead Israel from strength to strength, he must be aware that these mistakes are ready and waiting to present themselves again, due to factors such as the ideological weakness of his party, the decrepit security situation he has inherited from the previous government, and the psychological pressures placed upon him by the media to continue the Oslo process and turn his back on the residents of Judea and Samaria.

On the political plane, he would be well-advised to let the Arabs alone for a while--not to meet with Arafat, not to keep calling Mubarak, and not to wink in the direction of Assad. The more he ignores them, the more they will be wary of him, and the more their expectations will wane. The Arabs tend to understand that the Israeli voter has vetoed the previous composition of the Oslo process, and they must not be misled into thinking that it's still "business as usual." The symbolic implementation of a withdrawal from Hebron, or even its postponement, will lead only to a weak Arafat protest; he and Mubarak both know that they stand to lose much more than we do, if their intifada "threats" bring about a renewal of hostilities in the Middle East.

Concerning the Americans, they will remain friendly with us even if the Oslo process freezes to death and the building in Judea and Samaria gradually resumes. The U.S. tends to go along with Israeli policy, whether right or left, and it will not force Netanyahu to act against his basic ground plan. The American administration will even respect a situation wherein Netanyahu and various leaders in Judea and Samaria consult with one another on an ideological level. In short, it could be said that the U.S. leads Israel in the direction in which it wishes to walk. Carter pressured Begin to evacuate Yamit only after Begin initiated overtures to Egypt; the U.S. recognized Arafat only after the Rabin government made friends with him behind America's back. Similarly, the U.S. stopped pressuring us to deplane from the Golan as soon as it became clear that most of us prefer the Golan over Assad. It is therefore imperative that Netanyahu clarify to the Americans as soon as possible that he is not Shimon Peres. Immediately upon their first meeting, Bibi must introduce to Clinton, who authored the phrase "Shalom chaver," the new saying "Shalom batuach" (Peace with Security). If the White House becomes convinced that Netanyahu plans to stick to his security principles to the same extent that he stuck by his determination to win the election, Israeli-American relations will be free of one-sided pressures at least until the year 2000...

The tremendous energy that the Peres government wasted on building an imaginary "new Middle East" can be put to fine use towards building a "new Israel." The new government owes its voters some extra "Yiddishkeit (Jewish content)" in its educational system, more personal security, more economic freedom, and more attention to the development towns. Most important: it must rule. This is one thing it can learn from Peres - the strength to dominate and direct national policy. Not to hesitate, not to change course because of a demonstration or two, not to be affected by the ridicule of populist columnists. Determination and strength of conviction must be the rule of the day.

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