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Minister Benny Elon, Haggai Segal on PM Sharon and Road Map

Tourism Minister Benny Elon: "No need to jump to suicide through every window of opportunity." Arutz-7's Haggai Segal: "Settlers are our best hope."
First Publish: 4/29/2003, 3:26 PM

Arutz-7's Haggai Segal spoke with Tourism Minister Benny Elon of the National Union party this afternoon. He first asked for Elon's thoughts regarding Holocaust Day.

Elon: "I appreciate the approach of silence - the idea of remembering by being silent and internalizing historic memories. We certainly cannot afford to assume that a Holocaust cannot happen again; we have enemies, and with G-d's help we will remain alert… I don't know of a place that disseminates the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and anti-Semitism more than our own neighbors - in the PA, Syria, and the like; the unpleasant fact is that the largest ghetto in the world is right here. We are surrounded by hundreds of millions of enemies, and we have to deal with this cleverly - and not by giving them land, as if that's what they're missing…
"We are now sovereign, and we don't have to jump to commit suicide through every window of opportunity; I think the Americans are giving us a wonderful window of opportunity to solve the problem with a two-state solution on both sides of the Jordan - not a three-state solution that includes two Palestinian states."

Segal: "You know that that's not what's on the agenda at present; Prime Minister Sharon is planning to recognize a Palestinian state in Yesha. As a member of his government, how do you plan to fight this?"

Elon: "To Sharon's credit, it must be said that he has been consistent on this topic for a long time. When we joined the government, we said that not only do we not assume collective responsibility for this approach, but we will fight it to the hilt, both here and in the United States. The formation of a Palestinian state on this side of the Jordan River will eternalize terrorism forever, and I plan to explain as much to members of the U.S. Congress. Instead, Jordan must be the Palestinian state."

Segal: "But in the meantime, both you and the National Religious Party, by remaining quiet, are allowing the efforts to continue towards the formation of a Palestinian state [as envisioned by the rest of the world], are you not?"

Elon: "No, I do not believe so. It depends on how we work. The way to work right now is not by leaving the government so that Labor can replace us and push us faster towards a deterioration. It could be that this will change, but for now we have to work to ensure that the man [Ariel Sharon] who thinks that we may have to part with Beit El and Shilo will realize that he may find himself parted from his own government before that happens. I do not mean this as an insult, but the fact is that there are forces in the government, such as Binyamin Netanyahu and others, and we may very well have the required 61 MKs who disagree with Sharon's approach."

Minister Elon said that he is a bit more skeptical of Sharon than is Segal himself. Elon made mention of an article Segal wrote in B'Sheva last week, in which Sharon is portrayed as saying the following:
"I talk about the Road Map, but those who know me know that I'm here to preserve the Land of Israel, not divide it… But we have to work smartly and cleverly. Why fight with Bush if we can talk nicely to him? After all, nothing will come out of this Road Map plan anyway, since the Arabs are simply unable to stop murdering Jews no matter what… In the long-range, the only chance to prevent an erosion of our position depends on the settlers [the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza]. They're the only ones who are separating between the Arabs and their dreams. Without them, a Palestinian state would long have been established in all of Yesha. In the merit of their stubbornness, their willingness to sacrifice, it can still be possibly stopped or at least neutralized. I just hope that they don't get tired or weak suddenly. We're in deep trouble if they get tired or stop believing. Their job on this earth is to fight the despair of my generation, to fight my weakness. They have to save us from our despair, my despair. So [in Sharon's oft-quoted words from late 1998], let everyone get a move on and take more hilltops, take more land. Whatever we take - will be ours, and whatever we don't take, will be their [the Arabs']."

Elon: "Your [above-quoted] article was great, but I don't know if I'm quite as complacent about Sharon. I know that Sharon realizes that he's 75 years old, and feels that if he doesn't do certain things - including even the removal of Yesha communities - then others, less experienced than he is, will come after him and do them in a worse way. [He is therefore anxious to do it now, himself.]"

Elon also said that we must wage the struggle against this approach cleverly and without tiring:
"In the face of anti-educational statement [by Sharon] such as, 'In the future we may have to leave Beit El and Shilo,' we must have an immediate response - standing at every street-corner with signs saying, 'Beit El is ours forever,' 'Bethlehem is ours forever.' This must be our educational response. There is an attempt to anaesthetize the public, and this must be the counter-effort. But to leave the government every time something comes up - that is not the right approach."