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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 09, 2003

You decide

Bret Stevens, Editor, JPost, interviews Avram Mitzna
By month's end, Amram Mitzna may well be known either as the man who led the Labor Party to its most improbable victory or to its most crushing defeat. Yet in an interview this week with Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens from campaign headquarters in the working class Hatikva neighborhood of south Tel Aviv, the 57-year-old mayor of Haifa betrays only confidence - and certitude. He is certain Israel must disengage from the Palestinians, certain he knows how to do it, certain he won't repeat the mistakes of Ehud Barak, and certain the majority of Israelis share his views, even if, at present, this doesn't seem to translate into votes. Yet he is also certain he stands a chance of winning.

Here are just a couple of the penetrating questions.

But can you negotiate with someone who violates agreements?

What alternative do you have? You negotiate. You didn't succeed once, you didn't succeed twice. You have to try again and again... I think the Palestinians today do understand what their situation will be if they continue: curfews, no school, no jobs, poverty, no humanitarian services. The infrastructure is ruined. And they were so close to gaining independence, to gaining the recognition of the entire world...

You often speak of every course of action having risks and opportunities. What are the risks of following your course?

We don't have risks, only chances. What are the risks? Take Gaza. We pull out of the settlements in Gaza, we put a fence all around and the risk is that Gaza will produce terrorism into Israel. The IDF will be free and flexible to go in and out as needed. There will not be the additional burden on its soldiers to protect the settlers. It is only an advantage, not just security-wise, but economically. We spend millions of shekels on infrastructure, on tunnels, on roads between sensitive places. Each family is costing the Israeli public a fortune. We have to prioritize our needs, our efforts and our emphasis.
Too confident for my liking.