Introducing Uzi Landau – Candidate for Leader of Likud and Prime Minister of the State of Israel
Redacted from an interview by Ruthie Blum
Jerusalem Post International, September 22, 2005
Uzi Landau is a married father of three who lives in Ra’anana. Landau first became a Member of the Knesset (MK) in 1984. He has chaired or been a member of numerous Knesset committees since then, including foreign affairs and defense, economic affairs, justice, and immigration and absorption.
Between March 2001 and February 2002, he served as minister of public security and as minister without portfolio between February 2002 and October 2004, when he resigned from the cabinet due to his fierce opposition to disengagement from Gaza.
Question: Why do you want to be prime minister? Don’t you have enough troubles?
Excellent question. I believe I have no choice because I have a family and over the past two years, everything in this country is failing apart. Politics are corrupt down to the core. The prime minister and his son are methodically ruining the Likud. They have turned it into a playing field for wheeling and dealing; for buying and selling political appointments for threats and promises. Where diplomacy and defense are concerned, the prime minister has reneged on the voters. We are witnessing active surrender to the brutal terrorism that has been hitting us since Oslo and particularly in the last four years, leaving unprecedented numbers of casualties.
Society too, is being split at the seams by the prime minister. The withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria is not merely a geographical pullout, but the beginning of a process of withdrawal from Zionism. It’s a spiritual withdrawal from Jewish-Zionist values. An entire culture of educating generations of pioneers to settle the country — whether The Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley Jerusalem or Gush Katif – is crumbling before our very eyes – A culture of settlement not only created and encouraged by Likud governments, but by Labor Zionists, who regarded people settling the land as emissaries of the state: As Zionists at their best; and they were.
The communities in Gush Katif, for example, were not only established as a statement of Israel’s sovereignty over the land. You could actually see a whole different culture thriving there. A different Israel, characterized by mutual respect and compassion and living by “honor thy father and mother.”
Now we have a prime minister – a man those policies I supported for dozens of years – who calls this “occupied territory.” and he’s taken this wonderful group of people and demonized them as enemies of the state.
When you look at the government’s attitude toward these people who have just been yanked out of their homes – and you hear stories of the bureaucratic nightmares they are being forced to endure – you realize that this is no longer a political drama over disengagement. It is a human tragedy.
One has to make a distinction between a policy one supports or opposes and the way in which it is achieved – whether through democratic public debate or through wheeling and dealing and threat. I’m not talkng about politics but about the very fact that decisions are being taken contrary to the democratic process. This prime minister has shaken the very foundation on which the democratic decision-making process is based. This, above all, is why he is not worthy of his post
Q. Sharon didn’t emerge from the Likud. He was originally from Mapai. Do you think there is a connection?
There is no doubt that people bring their political upbringing with them. And during the past four years, he and his son Omri have been butchering the Likud with a combination of enticements and threats in order to further some policies and stymie other policies antithetical to what the Likud stands for in order to curry favor with the Leftist media.
Q. Sharon’s defenders claim that everything he has done politically has been completely legal.
When a candidate is elected on the basis of one platform, and then turns around and adopts the platform of the candidate he beat, it is fraud.
If that’s the case, why hasn’t there been a major public outcry?
That’s a separate question. I’m not saying that a prime minister can’t change his mind. But then he has to address the public and ask for renewed support.
Sharon, on the other hand, not only cheated his voters, but then he went on to promise the 200,000 Likud members that he would accept their vote on a referendum on disengagement – whatever it was. Yet, when the referendum opposed disengagement by a landslide 60-40, Sharon simply disregarded it.
To top it all off, he marketed disengagement abroad as though it were a plan forged by the government – a plan that didn’t even have a majority in the cabinet. To ensure such a majority he simply fired two ministers, Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon. Just like that.
Look, Sharon began with a very reasonable coalition and gradually he shed all his supporters. First, the National Union, then, the NRP then, certain Likud members; after that Shinui, and finally he brought in the Labor Party. So naturally he ended up with an uncontested government. Can anyone witness this and not fear for the future of our democracy? The Sharon I know today is a different man from the one I used to know. He underwent a fundamental metamorphosis …
First, Sharon said we have to withdraw from Gaza unilaterally because Arafat was not a partner for peace negotiations and because of our commitment to the Road Map. But then Arafat dies. Enter Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. It’s said of him that he’s a moderate. He wears a suit; he’s clean-shaven and smells of expensive after-shave. If so, then why not negotiate with him? Why take unilateral steps? Why not receive something in exchange?
Q. What makes you so sure that if you were prime minister you wouldn’t make similar withdrawals to those Sharon is making, or those Netanyahu made with the Hebron agreement — or those Begin made in Sinai?
This is not a question of withdrawing from territory but rather of upholding certain principles, such as that of reciprocity. It was on this very principle that I opposed the Hebron agreement and the reason Netanyahu didn’t ask me to join his cabinet.
Look, we’re engaged in a war with the Palestinians. When you’re at war, you don’t talk about compromises; you talk about victory. You have to defeat your enemy, so that when peace talks ensue, it is totally clear that you are making compromises out of generosity that the agreement you’re signing has a chance of being upheld for many years.
The trouble goes deeper than that, though. Israel is our country. What has happened here is that the Palestinians have convinced themselves and everybody else that this land is theirs. All we keep talking about is whether certain territory is necessary for our security. We’re not saying: “This is ours.”
Q. What about the consequences of disengagement on the Palestinian?
All you have to do is listen to Abu Mazen and you know that this is a victory for terrorism. He says they won’t stop until they get Jerusalem.
Q. Is Abu Mazen unable to control terrorism or is he actively encouraging it?
I don’t know. But at the moment he can’t control it, even if he wants to. I’m not so sure he wants to. He was among those who five years ago rejected the generous offers made by Barak at Camp David; he was the one who aided the terrorists at Munich; and he was a Holocaust denier. Today, when he comes out against terrorism, he says it is a tactical mistake, not an immoral act! He also says he’s not going to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.
Q. Sources in Washington claim that Sharon initiated the disengagement plan without any US pressure and assured President Bush that it would be good for Israel at a time when the Road Map was becoming irrelevant due to a rise in suicide bombings. Do you think this is true?
I know for a fact it’s true. The Americans didn’t want it. Bush was involved in Iraq right before elections, and didn’t want anything like this. Sharon pressured him, with the help of [PM advisor Dov] Dubi Weisglass – someone totally ignorant about foreign affairs and US defense policy. But once the Americans agreed, they said: OK, you want to go ahead with it (the Gaza withdrawal)? Fine, but throw in northern Samaria while you’re at it.”
One of the country’s most momentous moves was made by a handful of people who have no knowledge of foreign affairs and defense – two PR men, the Sharon family lawyer Dubi Weisglass and Sharon’s son.
Q. Are you saying that Ariel Sharon has no knowledge of defense?
Of course he has, but when you do something this monumental, you work with a team of professionals. I mean, even the chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet were unaware of the plan. It was all done on the sly, as though this were some banana republic.
Q. It is said that because you lack charisma, your integrity won’t help you get elected?
Was Harry Truman charismatic? No. Did he have integrity? Yes. Did he not get to be president of the United States?