Two Views: Netanyahu betrayal puts his leadership in doubt

The Wye Memorandum will come to be known in Israel's troubled history as the Great Betrayal.

It encompasses the betrayal of solemn promises made to the people of Israel, the betrayal of the Jewish inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, and the hitherto greatest threat to Israel's security.

Notwithstanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's characterizations to the contrary, the Wye Agreement follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, the Oslo I and II agreements. It is a repetition of the same fatal blunder of delivering territory — an irreversible concession — in return for promises, papers and committees.

To deliver more land to the Palestinians following four years of noncompliance and wholesale violation of previous commitments is a mind-boggling act. To term this act as an important step toward peace and security is an insult to the intelligence of our people.

If the Oslo agreements have set the stage for the creation of a Palestinian state, the Wye Memorandum has taken a significant step toward solidifying the sovereignty of that state through two important concessions: It has granted the Palestinian entity a more coherent geographical configuration, encompassing a significantly greater degree of territorial contiguity. It has also given the Palestinian Authority control of entry and exit of people and goods to and from its territory.

All that remains for that entity to formally become a viable, independent state is a declaration of statehood by its government.

The Wye Memorandum went much further than any previous agreement with an Arab state in introducing American involvement in virtually every aspect of implementation and guaranteeing of the process. Thus, it has undermined the vital importance of ensuring maximal bilateral reciprocity and mutual responsibility in the execution of the undertakings in Israeli-Palestinian accords.

Furthermore, it has enabled the United States to extend a protective umbrella over the Palestinian entity and its authority. The American presence as an arbiter, inspector and guarantor is bound to create friction between the United States and Israel. Even if Palestinian violations of the agreements continue and increase, the United States will never announce that the agreements were a blunder or that they need to be reconsidered. Israel will pay the price until an inevitable showdown takes place.

Netanyahu and his colleagues left Israel with the declared intention of securing an understanding that the last redeployment will be very limited (not more than 1 percent), that 31 Palestinians implicated in terror attacks will be delivered to Israel for prosecution and justice, that Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat will not declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally and, finally, that the Palestinian Charter will be abrogated by the Palestinian National Council.

The memorandum (paragraph 2B) states that the third redeployment will be addressed by yet another committee, which means that Israel will face another round of pressure to deliver more territory.

The 31 implicated Palestinian terrorists (minus the Palestinian Chief of Police Ghazi Jibali) will be apprehended by the Palestinian authorities for "further investigation, and prosecution and punishment." The Palestinian record in this respect is totally negative and the Palestinian Authority's capacity to hoodwink the American observers is endless.

Arafat has made a point of stating repeatedly, after the signature of the Wye Memorandum, that he maintains the right to declare statehood at the end of the five-year period of the interim agreements. One may therefore well ask what was the point of making more territorial concessions if we may face a confrontation with the Palestinian Authority next May?

As for the abrogation of the clauses in the Palestinian Charter that call for the destruction of Israel, paragraph C2 of the Wye Memorandum lays down that a number of Palestinian bodies, including the PNC, will be convened to "reaffirm the letter of 22 January 1998 from…Chairman Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter, provisions that are inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] and the Government of Israel on 9/10 September 1993."

Simply stated, there is a reaffirmation of a letter, but there is no clear provision for the abrogation by the PNC — and only the PNC –of the relevant paragraphs in the charter, as specifically stated in the Palestinian Charter itself.

Therefore, either Netanyahu has been had, or he was convinced this was the most he could get from Arafat.

Since his return, Netanyahu has tried to reach out to the Israeli inhabitants of the territories and assuage their concerns, especially with regard to the security situation following the upcoming territorial withdrawal.

The settlers have been through this scenario too often in the past. Now they have responded by declaring Netanyahu to be unfit for leadership of the "national camp" in Israel and have come out in support of early elections. No wonder, for what is inevitably in store for them is a tightening of the Palestinian encirclement around their villages and homes, and a growing danger to their safety and security.

The issue at hand is not whether the alternative to Netanyahu would be better or worse. The real issue is whether, facing Netanyahu's abysmal performance and betrayal of so much that is vital to the country's security and future, he should be permitted to continue to serve as the leader of Israel's government.