Key Labor Lawmaker Calls for Talks With Abbas

By Marc Perelman

Published September 14, 2006, issue of September 15, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Ephraim Sneh, the leader of the Labor faction in the Knesset and a respected voice on military affairs, claims that Israel should immediately engage in direct negotiations with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

“We need to close the Palestinian file through an agreement,” Sneh told a gathering of the Israeli Policy Forum in New York on Thursday. “The last years have damaged the IDF by turning it into a border police, it has hurt our economy and our ability to have allies in the region. … So we need to start negotiating with Abbas.”

While he ruled out negotiations with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel and past agreements, Sneh noted that the group has de facto agreed to delegate talks with Israel to Abbas. He added that the strategy of isolating Hamas was succeeding because its inability to govern had damaged its popularity among Palestinians.

Sneh urged Washington to empower Abbas and help him build up his security forces and deploy them in Gaza. In an effort to jump-start the peace process, Sneh joined with Abbas in 2003 to co-author the “Gaza Pilot” plan, which advocated the transfer of control of Gaza to the Palestinians, to be followed by development of economic infrastructure there and a crackdown on terror.

In his talk Thursday, Sneh, a former deputy defense minister under Ehud Barak, argued that the government should begin discussions on a draft agreement with the Palestinian leader that would then be put to a referendum.

At the same time that it seeks peace with the Palestinians, Sneh said, Israel should draw the lessons from the Lebanon war and improve its military capabilities to prepare for the “next round” of what he describes as a looming war with Iran.

“We have to make sure we win the next war, which is unavoidable as long as [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is in power,” he said.

Sneh argued that though the decision not to send ground troops earlier and in greater number was a mistake, Israel still won the war, if not decisively. He called for a state commission to look into the failures of the war rather than the government-appointed panel favored by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “We need to make sure the examination has a real moral authority,” he said.

In addition, Sneh, who is also a doctor and a former Health Minister, said the government should dedicate time and money to rebuilding Israel’s welfare state. He noted that the poor in the North had felt abandoned during the recent conflict. “When I visited shelters in Acco, I saw the Israeli New Orleans,” he added somberly. “We need to make the government responsible again.”
While he acknowledged the difficulties of the current coalition government, Sneh argued that it was the most moderate Israel has had in years and that if Labor would pull out, the next government would be more hawkish.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.