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Arnon Perlman, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's former spokesperson. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


By Rhonda Spivak

Arnon Perlman, the Chief Spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from 2001-2005 and former head of the Media and Communications Division of the Israeli Government says that it is in Israel’s best interest to bring about the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Perlman, who is a close personal friend of Omri Sharon, said that although no one will ever know for sure, he believes that Sharon thought that the security “fence” is where the final border between Israel and a Palestinians state would be.

“The fence was built for a reason. My thinking is that the fence eventually will be the border [ more or less]…and that’s what I think that Sharon was thinking.”

Perlman’s talk at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on May 2 was sponsored by the Jewish National Fund and was the opening lecture in what is being planned as a series of “Sunday lectures” to be put on by the JNF.

Perlman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an interview after the event, that  the route of the security fence ‘isn’t so far off from the  1967 borders, especially after all of the results of the “bagatzim”[ petitions to the High Court of Justice which resulted in the route being closer to the 67 borders].”

Perlman also told some humorous stories about Sharon. According to Perlman, Sharon badly wanted to go to a falafel booth like the rest of his people and eat falafel, dipping it into hummus, and techina etc.  He was told that it would be impossible because it would be difficult to provide him with appropriate security. But Sharon insisted and was taken to eat felafel at a place on Aza street in Jerusalem.

“We got there and Sharon ate six falafel and afterwards he said,  see there was no problem with security. We didn’t tell him that we had recruited half of the secret service people in Jerusalem and their girlfriends to be eating at the falafel stand as he came.”

On a more serious note, in Perlman’s view, the demographic factor is the key issue facing Israel:

“It is in our interest to have a two state solution because the other [solution] is a one state solution and it won’t be my state. Within 50 -100 years there will be a Palestinian majority between the Mediterranean Sea and  the Jordan River, and that’s why we [Israel] need our own state and they need theirs. Otherwise there won’t be a Jewish state…The only solution is for us to have strong enough borders for them to live on their side and us on our side.”

Perlman  was a scuba diving instructor in an Caribbean island when  he was  asked  to “come home” by  Sharon’s family and  serve as Sharon’s personal spokesperson.

“I was living on an island between Cuba and Honduras. I was tall, and beautiful with blue eyes,” he joked.

He said when he got off the plane at Ben Gurion airport, he went straight “to get a hair cut”, “buy a suit”, and then he went to Sharon’s family ranch where he had lunch.  After lunch Sharon said, “OK, are you done with your vacation?”

Perlman told the audience of about 50 people that he believes that it is in Israel’s best interest to put forward its own peace initiative,  that would see a two state solution.

“It’s better to initiate a plan that have one imposed on you,” said Perlman, who added that  in his view  “there  will be no Palestinian right of return to Israel.”

He acknowledged that if the Palestinians would not agree to give up the right of return, there could be “a problem” but said Israel “should be pushing for a peace settlement to see if  this is as problem.”

When asked what would happen if after Palestinians they got a state, they began shooting rockets into Israel, Perlman responded: “If they’ll shoot one at us, we’ll need to shoot 20 back.’

Perlman  now produces his own television show “The Submarine”, which is “a nickname for  the Prime Minister’s inner chamber.” The show is shown on channel 99 (the Knesset channel) and channel 10 T.V. in Israel.

On the subject of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, Perlman said it was necessary to remove “10,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza” but the problem was “the day after.”

He said Israel made a mistake in not responding after the first qassam fell after the disengagement.

“The way we retaliated three years later [with Operation Cast Lead] is the way we should have responded after the first qassam fell after we disengaged from Gaza. We waited  far too long to respond. ”

When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review about what he though Israel’s response ought to be if  Salam Fayyad unilaterally declares a Palestinian state in 2011,Perlman answered,” I hope he  will declare a state. Once you have a Palestinian state it is an entity with accountability vis- a- vis the U.N. and the world.”

However, he said “I have no idea” how the Israeli government would respond in such a scenario. “My guess is that they will be horrified and shocked and would not acknowledge such a [Palestinian] state.”

Perlman said that a two state solution would mean that about 350,000 settlers in the West Bank would have to “come home,” and this would be difficult and would likely entail some violence, “but the problem will not be as hard as some people try to make out.”

He stressed that Israel is a “democratic country” where the will of the majority will be implemented, including “calling the settlers to come back home.”  Of course, he said, it was possible that in negotiations land swaps would be agreed upon so that large settlement blocks could remain in Israel. When asked about the fate of  the settlement of Ariel, he said he didn’t know.

When asked by a member of the audience why he thought the Palestinians would accept a  state alongside Israel when they didn’t accept  Ehud Barak’s proposal in Taba and Camp David, Perlman responded that Barak didn’t negotiate the way that is necessary in the Middle East.

According to Perlman, Barak came and said that “my first offer is my last offer.” Perlman said “When you present your final offer on the first day, it becomes your first offer [in Palestinian eyes].”

In Perlman’s view a two state solution will not emerge “tomorrow” but  “at the end of the day the solution will be give or take the 67 borders and the only question will be how much blood is spilled on the way to getting there.”

As for Jerusalem, Perlman said “it is already a divided city” and he believes the holy places with have to be internationalized.

He also said that Iran is “a major strategic threat” not because he anticipates Iran will actually  use nuclear weapons against Israel, but becasue  a nuclear Iran “ will change the balance of power in the Middle East,” and Iran will have the ability to transfer nuclear capabilities to terrorist organizations.

Perlman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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