Rabin Shouted Off Podium as Knesset Debates the Uprising
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shouted off the podium in Parliament on Wednesday as left-wing legislators called for him to resign when he tried to defend the government’s tougher tactics for putting down the Palestinian uprising.
“For our future, for our joint destiny with the Palestinians, for the soldier who got up yesterday and said, ‘My education is being butchered here every day’ . . . for all this, I say to you, Mr. Defense Minister, go!” said Yossi Sarid of the Citizens’ Rights Movement.
Sarid was referring to a soldier serving in the West Bank who complained to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Tuesday that the government drive to crush the uprising has forced soldiers to use brutality and sacrifice their humanitarian values.
The debate followed the introduction of no-confidence motions by eight factions against the government’s handling of the latest violence. Legislators of the coalition government voted them down.
Sarid told Parliament that the army had killed 90 Arabs younger than 17.
“The policy of the Israeli government and the policy of the defense minister does not only kill Palestinians. It also kills Israeli soldiers’ souls,” said Sarid, a former member of Rabin’s Labor Party.
But right-wing critics of the government said it is not doing enough to end the revolt against Israel’s 21-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rehavam Zeevi of the ultra-nationalist Homeland Party, which seeks the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the occupied lands, complained: “Children and teen-agers are running wild in the villages and on the roads. . . . For them it’s a festival; for us, a continuous Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement).”
Defending himself and his policies, Rabin declared: “As long as the residents of the (occupied) territories aren’t ready to sit down at the negotiating table, as long as they respond with violence, rocks and bottles, they will not make us run away, they will not make us surrender. They will suffer.
“As long as they say, ‘We will continue with violence,’ their violence will be met with force,” fhe continued. “What is Israel to do?”
“Talk peace!” shouted one Arab member of Parliament.
“Get out of the territories!” shouted another.
“This is a government with a plastic heart, a brain of lead and a conscience of rubber,” said Mohammed Miari of the Progressive List for Peace.
Hecklers interrupted Rabin at least a dozen times before he stopped speaking and angrily took his seat.
The defense minister came under fire from leftist lawmakers for his latest policy of allowing troops to shoot plastic or rubber bullets at stone-throwers even as they flee, and for increasing the number of soldiers allowed to shoot. The new policy also calls for punishing stone-throwers by wrecking or sealing their homes or confiscating their families’ property.
Since the uprising began in December, 1987, more than 345 Palestinians have been killed.