- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2000

Syria out of LebanonTurning upside down the repeated demands of its Arab neighbors for Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, Israeli legislators have a few suggestions of their own starting with getting Syria out of Lebanon. In a petition to the U.S. Congress signed by 50 Israeli legislators including Likud leader Ariel Sharon, Israeli Knesset members asked the U.S. administration and Congress last week to force Syria to give up its dominance of Lebanon. The Israeli legislators were in Washington to try to convince the administration to stop pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to give up more territory and to push for Syria to live by the same standards it has set for Israel. Instead of trying to force through a Middle East peace deal future presidents and the American people will regret, the Clinton administration would do well to listen.
While Syrians were only too eager for the Israeli military to pull out of its buffer zone in Lebanon, they seem to have forgotten that the very same U.N. Security Council Resolution 520 which they have used against Israel demands that all foreign forces withdraw from Lebanon. Israel cannot be left defenseless on all sides. In the wake of its own withdrawal from Lebanon, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) that was based there has moved four battalions to the West Bank. Now, without giving the Israelis time to exhale, the Palestinians are demanding the next evacuation: 100 percent of the land Israel captured on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967. Unofficial reports say Mr. Barak may be ready to move out of 92 percent of that territory, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is already drooling over a possible withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Israel's security and water source.
"This deal that Clinton is pressing us to accept is endangering our very existence," Michael Kleiner, chairman of the Herut party told The Washington Times about the proposed Palestinian-Israeli deal. "He wants to mediate our withdrawal with cookies."
The Knesset members aren't moved by the American sweet stuff, which includes trading dollars for Israel's loss of security and home. After all, Israel has already withdrawn from Egyptian, Jordanian and Lebanese territory. No wonder the legislators are angry.
Israeli officials have estimated it would cost as much as $10 billion to move Jewish settlers from the Golan Heights and relocate them, and another $8 billion to move the military bases on that strategic ground. Military redeployments in southern Lebanon and the Golan alone would cost $17 billion, Israeli Ambassador David Ivry said. Most of that tab would be paid by American taxpayers, and the United States could easily be asked to fill in for their lost defense capabilities should they relocate from the Golan.
"Everyone understands the schizophrenic reality … when a president who is ending a term signs a check that the next generation of American presidents will have to pay," chairman of the Israel Beitenu faction, the party of Russian immigrants said in an interview. Mr. Clinton may be desparate for a legacy, but this is unfair to both the Israeli and American people.

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