For all the
horror going on in Israel right now, there are a still some bright, inspiring moments. One came yesterday when Christiane Amanpour interviewed
Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer
, a Labour member of the current Israeli government.
This section of the interview, which I'm quoting at length below, points to the fissures in the current Israeli government, the firm determination even of supporters of the peace process like Ben-Eliezer not to give in to terror, and some slivers of hope for a way out of the current stranglehold of violence.
AMANPOUR: But what if there are more suicide bombings inside Israel? What do you do next?
BEN-ELIEZER: Listen, even if I will tell you that we are going for the separate operation, where they could just put fences, I don't think that this will really close the way from those who want really to penetrate to Israel. As I have said, we have to work very, hard simultaneously to what to our operation. We have to convince the Palestinian people as much as possible that our intention was and still to live with them together, to coexist with them together for a better future for the kids.
I am ready to say more than that. I am one of the few in the country that has accepted, for example, the Saudi proposal as a basis.
AMANPOUR: So if you as defense minister believe that, and Prime Minister Sharon as prime minister does not believe that...
BEN-ELIEZER: OK. Then I will move with this government until the minute that I will feel that I am prevented to do something that can be achieved. I hope that I -- you understand me. I will continue to be a partner in this government, in this coalition until the minute that I would realize that the breakthrough is possible and the fact that I am there I can do that. Then I will quit; we'll go.
All the labor party, we'll move out of this government. I want you to know that I, through my service -- I used to be the minister governor of the West Bank and government coordinator. I know hundreds of families and I feel sorry about them, really sorry. I want you to know that I care exactly as I care about our kids, I care about their kids as well. But someone has to come from the other side and listen to us and try to find a way how to sit and to find a solution.
AMANPOUR: Do you care that your soldiers go house to house and arrest little children's fathers and humiliate them? Do you care that your soldiers went into hospitals and separated nurses and doctors and kept patients unattended while they even removed injured people from their beds to check? Was that right?
BEN-ELIEZER: No, that's wrong. That's wrong. First of all, no one have prove it to me. I know my people, I know my soldiers. I think they are the most moral soldiers. But in such operation, such big operation, I cannot ignore that some accidents happen from them. It's a war.
It's happened, it is not right. And I can assure you more than that. The first indication that someone makes something wrong, we stop it. We just stop it.
AMANPOUR: And what would happen if it was proved right?
BEN-ELIEZER: Someone would have to be punished.