Two Views: Jewish state must oust the right-wing coalition

Better late than never: There are many reasons to conclude that the Wye agreement could have been done months ago. However, perhaps Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat needed some more time in order to reach a viable compromise that both of them can live with and still survive politically.

From the Israeli perspective it is now clear and evident that the Oslo process is the only path to peace and there is no way back. That is a complete vindication of the courageous decision of the late Yitzhak Rabin, who himself hesitated before entering the Oslo path.

It was a pity that only Jordan's King Hussein and Arafat mentioned Rabin at the White House ceremony, while President Clinton and Netanyahu ignored his memory.

The differences between the Oslo process under Rabin and its continuation under Netanyahu are quite substantial: Under Rabin's government it was mainly a bilateral achievement of Israel and the Palestinians without any international pressure and with very limited outside international involvement. Under the current government it became "Pax Americana."

Nothing can move anymore without American involvement, and Israel lost its freedom and flexibility to make decisions on its vital security interests.

It is a dangerous precedent that will be difficult to depart from in the future and not only in connection with the Palestinians.

The positive side is that the same applies to the Palestinians. They will have to prove from now on to the American government and public opinion that they are fully implementing their part of the deal.

The U.S. involvement is now a fact of life and it was unwise, to say the least, to antagonize Clinton, his administration and Israel's supporters in Washington by making childish ultimatums or by trying to link Jonathan Pollard's case to the peace process.

Washington operates differently and it is not accustomed to the old tactics of the Israeli political kitchens.

The Israeli prime minister had finally crossed the bridge of territorial compromise in the West Bank, a bridge that all past Likud leaders tried to circumvent. No Israeli government will be able to change that fact in the future.

In that respect Netanyahu reluctantly kept his election promises and his and the Likud's platform. Any member of the Likud Knesset faction who will vote against the Wye agreement is breaking his electoral obligation.

Ze'ev "Benny" Begin, Uzi Landau, Rafael Eitan and Michael Kleiner knew when they went with Netanyahu that he had pledged to continue the Oslo process, while trying to improve its security clauses as much as possible.

Netanyahu can justifiably argue that he did his utmost, succeeding in getting more assurances and better measures for fighting terrorism. Now, if the other side carries out its obligations, he has to fulfill the agreed stages of redeployment and move swiftly to the next and last stage of negotiations, dealing with the problems of the final status and the terms of the full peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

That is not an easy task. If the road to the interim agreement was so long and difficult it will be even moreso trying to negotiate the final settlement. Nine days on a semi-secluded plantation won't be enough; even 90 days might not produce a new treaty.

The main problem is internal: Netanyahu will not enjoy his coalition majority in the Knesset. He will get approval for this agreement thanks to the votes of the moderate elements in his coalition but only with the support provided by the Labor Party and the left.

After that he cannot take this safety net for granted. He will not be able to function even if most of the extreme right will not bring down his government, for fear of getting a Labor-led government instead.

The only option open to him is to broaden his coalition base. It is an almost impossible task under the present circumstances because of Netanyahu's lack of credibility in many center and left political circles. Therefore the only logical, sensible and even moral way is to call for new elections immediately after the implementation of this agreement.

It is only fair to renew the voters' mandate and to elect a Knesset that will more truly reflect the vast majority that supports the continuation of this peace process. Whoever wins the role of prime minister will have to build a coalition based on all the forces that support this process and leave in opposition all those who want to turn our backs to the future.