PIJ: What is your evaluation of the Annapolis
Shulamit Aloni: I'm not very hopeful about anything coming out of
Annapolis, but still, peace is essential. That is our goal.
The problem is that myths are taking over our lives. Actually, it
began with the Six Day War in 1967. The problem was not the victory
itself, but how it was interpreted. Suddenly all the myths came
out. Yesterday I heard on television people talking about how this
was always our home; this was where Abraham lived. However, for
2,000 years no one actually tried to return here. And others were
living here as well.
The influence of myths is very powerful. The first person who
suspected this was Prof. Gershon Sholem, in a letter he wrote back
in 1926: "Are we aware of what could happen when we return to the
Hebrew language and to the country, what effect this would have?"
And all his suspicions were fulfilled by these myths.
But all of these myths only erupted after 1967?
This was the true result of the Six Day War. I was in the first
[Yitzhak] Rabin government in 1974, and we could have easily made
peace at that time. King Hussein [of Jordan] … told us: If
you give me Jericho, we will start negotiations on returning the
territories. There were three ministers in favor, Aharon Yariv, Gad
Yaacobi and I. The others did not want it because they were afraid
that he would want to return to the Green Line, the 1967 borders.
The approach of Minister Yisrael Galili and his associates was that
they wanted the National Religious Party (NRP) to join the
government, and when Golda Meir had been prime minister, she had
promised them that no part of the Land of Israel would be returned
without a referendum.
Some argued that since it was the Syrians and the Egyptians who
fought Israel in 1973 and not the Jordanians, there was no reason
to give the Jordanians a prize.
That was not the issue in 1974. Rabin said Golda promised them that
they would not return land without a referendum or elections. And
Rabin decided that he would not hold elections over such an idea. I
am a lawyer, and I asked: Is Golda's promise to the NRP a
government decision or a personal discussion with them? If it was a
government decision, I want to see the decision; you could cancel
it but you have to deal with it. If it wasn't a government
decision, if it was a personal conversation, it does not
What is your view of the Arab Peace Initiative?
I think that the Arab Peace Initiative, what people in Israel call
the Saudi Initiative, is very important. I think it is very
important that the Arab states participate in the peace process,
and that the State of Israel should be more attentive to what the
Arab states are saying.
In 1973 there were a total of just 7,000 settlers. What should
we do today about the settlements? How do we deal with
We won't have a choice. We must deal with the problem. The
settlements are a scandal and a constant financial drain on the
nation, most of which doesn't appear officially in the annual
budget's records. The government is deceiving itself, the Israeli
public and the world.
We built this terrible wall and we stole a lot of land, so in the
beginning all of the settlers beyond the wall will have to return.
It depends on which government and which prime minister we
Do you see any chance with the government we have
In my view [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak may be even more dangerous
than [former Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, because of his
military mind, even though he may support an "evacuation for
compensation" program. He may support it, but where is the money to
carry it out? In his ideology Barak is not a man of peace. And the
Labor Party is no longer a labor party.
We also have a government with too many former generals. The Second
Lebanon War happened because there were too many generals. Everyone
blames [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, [but] imagine Olmert saying,
"We are not going to war." While [former Chief-of-Staff] General
Dan Halutz was saying about everything, "We took care of it; it's
ok," and in the government we have former Generals Ephraim Sneh,
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Matan Vilnai and Shaul Mofaz, as well as two
ministers who were in the General Security Services. And there was
also Shimon Peres, who lied to the Winograd Commission about his
position on the war. He claimed that he was against it, and only
supported it out of loyalty to the prime minister. Peres always
said "yes" to whatever the army asked. He has a feeling of
inferiority toward the army, because they always remind him that he
never was in uniform.
Also, the statement is always made that we will not release
prisoners who have "blood on their hands." Well, we should remember
that we have even more "blood on our hands." Whoever drops one-ton
bombs on people, and whoever has decided that it is possible to
eliminate people without evidence and due process of law, has a lot
of "blood on his hands." [A senior minister in the current
government] has more blood on his hands than l00 or 200 Palestinian
So your conclusion is that we need an international
I always say that a strong third party has to intervene.
Do you think the Geneva Initiative model will be the basis of
I don't know. We could have advanced the negotiations during Camp
David II with Barak, where progress was made. However, when the
talks collapsed, he claimed that there was "no one to talk
At the Taba talks the negotiators almost arrived at an
agreement, and then Barak withdrew from the talks.
That's when he began the spin of having no one to talk to, and we
knew it was a spin, and the military understood it. [Head of the
research section of Military Intelligence] Major General Amos Gilad
appeared all the time on television, saying that "Arafat wanted the
second intifada." Yet Arafat came to Barak the night before
[then-Likud Party leader Ariel] Sharon went to the Temple Mount and
begged him, "Don't let him go up." What was Barak's answer? "This
is a free country." Why did Barak let him go there? He knew he had
no majority in the Knesset. So he thought he would come to an
agreement with Sharon, who would become defense minister in a Barak
government, or the other way around. I believe Barak wanted an
alliance with Sharon. In addition, only two weeks ago he said that
he has great sentiment and sympathy toward the settlers in the
On the other hand, there are Palestinians who say that President
Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has no authority to make peace.
You are referring to Hamas. First of all, we should remember that
we, the Israelis, helped to found Hamas, and also that we are
carrying out provocations so that things will not be calm. Did you
see the TV movie "One Million Bullets in October" [about how the
IDF did not carry out governmental orders in October 2000 aimed at
limiting and possibly stopping the second intifada - ed.]. There is
a lot of evidence.
Things are getting worse. On the one hand, we hear more voices
saying that there is no alternative to a one-state solution, and on
the other hand, we see polls in Haaretz which say that most
Israelis don't trust the Arabs and even fear them.
Do you believe that it is possible to talk with Hamas?
I am for speaking even with the devil. I am for talking to
everyone. But we are purposely heating up the atmosphere. Why are
we sending soldiers to Nablus and other places? We are a country
without the death penalty, and yet we kill people. What is the
targeted assassination policy if not murder? And we do it with such
ease - and [to even] children and elders and women - what is this?
It's hard for me to say a good word about the future.
How important is the role of the international community in
general, and of the Americans in particular, in promoting the peace
Without the intervention of the international community, we won't
be able to achieve peace.
As for the Americans, their involvement is very important, but I
think that we are too dependent upon them, which is why I would
also like to see a strong European involvement.
We are too dependent upon the Americans, and upon the American
Jewish lobby there. We even have a Jewish People Policy Planning
Institute, which revives the specter of the infamous Protocols of
the Elders of Zion. In addition, if we only work with the
Americans, the American Jews will eventually be accused of dual
loyalty [to Israel and America].
Therefore I think that it is very important to have a general
international involvement in the process, the Europeans together
with the Americans. And I'm not trying in any way to belittle the
importance of a constructive American involvement.
What should the Israelis - both Israeli civil society and the
Israeli government - do to promote peace today?
The Israeli public has undergone a systematic brainwashing. We are
one of the strongest countries in the world, definitely the
strongest country in the region, yet we are constantly being told
that we are facing threats to our very existence.
That part of Israeli civil society that thinks like I do, that we
are strong and we must have consideration for the rights of the
Palestinians, that we can make peace and are obligated to make
peace, must say so.
What can the Palestinians contribute to the process?
First of all, the Palestinians are justifiably insisting that we
release more of the [over l0,000] Palestinian prisoners as a
The Palestinians have a major problem with Hamas. We contributed to
the establishment of Hamas [as a counter-force to Fateh and the
PLO], and now that we refuse to speak with them, we are only
exacerbating the situation.
The strong side is the side that has to do the maximum to move the
process forward, and we are the strong side. We are the ones who
are stealing their lands in the West Bank, are uprooting their
trees, are placing them in prisons and are killing them without
Are you pessimistic?
I despise what the army is doing. They now want to enter the
schools to be the educators of our children. They think that they
are the lords of the land. … Some high schools are carrying
out a plan that enables the army to present their ideas to the 10th
graders. … And they want to start with them from
kindergarten. What is this? I want human beings to enter the
Look what just happened in a West Bank village. The settlers said
they had come to "erase this village," and seven buses full of
settlers came, and the military and the police stood aside and
didn't stop their pogrom.
So I am pessimistic today. My biggest anger is about the cult of
the army. I think that today we could take many millions away from
the army's budget and give it to education, to allow education to
flourish. Instead of giving it to the army, we could give it to
research in the universities.
What is your wish for 2008?
Very simply, we have to make peace in 2008. We have to release
prisoners. We have to stop building apartheid-like separation roads
[that only settlers are allowed to use] in the West Bank.
Will 2008 be a "year of decision" as the media says?
We have been living years of decision for 60 years.
With Barak as defense minister and all the generals in the
government today, it's hard to be optimistic that they will make
peace, but we must pressure them. That's why I want third-party
involvement, and particularly from the Europeans.