«« TERRORISME - conflit israélo-palestinien

Democracy wins the day

Montreal Gazette - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Éditorial - The Israeli cabinet has wisely scrapped plans to introduce legislation that would have prevented Israeli Arabs from purchasing homes on state land. The reversal, at Sunday's cabinet meeting, came after considerable protest against the idea, which had been introduced by a legislator from the hard-line National Religious Party.

Cabinet backed away from the plan by a 22-2 vote after the Labour Party, a main element in Israel's governing coalition, vowed to fight the bill in the Knesset. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon then took the high road, saying the bill was unwise because it would harm Arab-Jewish relations within Israel.

Scrapping of this odious bill reconfirms Israel's status as a democratic state under the rule of law and with equal rights for all - a status closely connected with Israel's economic vigour. Israel is imperfect in these matters, as are we all, but this decision shows again that the Israelis are trying.

This episode should illustrate two points to the surrounding states: that pluralism and respect for the rights of minorities is possible; and that an open, democratic political system gives a government a way to consider fully - and perhaps back away from - foolish ideas.