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  Ehud Barak


(Note:  this version of the Labor Party Platform has been edited for length.  Feel free to view the full document).

The Israel Labor Party is a social-democratic political party. It's ideological vision for Israel is based upon the values of the Jewish labor movement, which are in turn, products of the social experience and cultural heritage of the Jewish people.

The Labor Party has a principled commitment to the maintenance of a democratic form of government; to the enhancement of the social and economic well being of all of Israel's citizens; to the strengthening of Israel's economy based on free market principles; and, to the achievement of a comprehensive peace with security in the Middle East.

The Labor Party is pragmatic in its approach. It recognizes the necessity to compromise in both the domestic arena and in foreign affairs in order to promote political stability and the advancement of Israel's fundamental interests.

Leaders of Israel's Labor Party have included David Ben Gurion, Moshe Sharett, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. The head of the Labor Party today is Ehud Barak. The Party has 34 Members of Knesset.


Political Platform

As approved at the 6th Party Congress, May 1997

The Israel Labour Party will strive to create a new reality in which there will be no more terrorism and war, and in which tremendous financial resources will no longer be committed to the arms race. Israel's peace and security policy will be aimed toward ending the Israeli-Arab conflict. The regional policy will be based on pursuing economic cooperation in various fields; mutual ties in the areas of culture, science and technology; joint development of the standard of living and welfare; and fulfilling the promise of a better future with greater opportunities for the young generation in our region. In order to achieve this goal, Israel will continue to conduct peace negotiations, while at the same time, combating the forces of fundamentalism and terrorism that aim to destroy this process. This new reality will strengthen Israel's security and standing and will encourage economic prosperity and the welfare of the state.

Final Status Agreement with the Palestinians
The negotiations will be based on the Oslo Accords, with guarantees for the State of Israel to exist in peace and security within defensible borders, and with precise definitions of the elements for the normalization of relations between Israel and its neighbors.

1. Jerusalem
United Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty. The Palestinian residents of the city will enjoy municipal rights in the quarters in which they reside, and special arrangements will be established for the sites sacred to Christianity and Islam.

2. Self-Determination for the Palestinians
The Labour Party recognizes the Palestinians' right to self-determination, and does not rule out in this connection the establishment of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.

3. Security
The Jordan river will be Israel's eastern security border and there will be no other army stationed to the west of it.

4. Borders and Settlements
Israel extends its sovereignty over areas that are major Jewish settlement blocs.

5. The Right of Return
Israel does not recognize the right of return of Palestinians to areas under Israeli sovereignty. Israel will negotiate with the Palestinians on allowing the return to areas under Palestinian control.

Israeli Relations with Syria
The Israel Labour Party will continue to pursue a peace agreement with Syria. Within the framework of the peace agreement, Israel will be open to compromise on the basis of land for peace and security, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and the guidelines of the Madrid Conference.

Security Arrangements
Within the framework of a peace agreement, Israel demands strict and diverse security arrangements. Israel insists that a peace agreement with Syria will include Syria's obligation to prevent hostile activities against Israel, emanating from its soil and areas under its control.

Type of Agreement and its Implementation
The agreement will be implemented gradually and will be accompanied by confidence building measures. Within the framework of the peace agreement, Israel insists on the full normalization of relations considered standard among neighboring countries living in peace.

The Question of Water
An agreement of the source of water, its protection, development and use will be an integral part of the peace agreement.

POWs and MIAs
In any peace agreement with Syria, Israel will demand that the Syrian government work toward the return of Israel's POWs and provide any and all information on the fate of its MIAs. Israel will also insist that Syria enable the return of the remains of Eli Cohen.

Existing settlements on the Golan will be strengthened.

Israel and the Palestinians: Demographic Facts

Israel's population today is 5.5 million. 4.5 million of Israel's people are Jewish while 1 million are Arab. The overwhelming number of Israel's Arab citizens were born and raised in the State of Israel, after 1948.

Palestinian Population Statistics in the Territories

Unemployment among the Palestinians is at or above 50%. The large majority of the population in Gaza is under the age of 25.

The choice facing Israel and the Palestinians is either the creation of a reality based on a geo-political separation, the development of a relationship of peaceful co-existence with security, improved social and economic conditions for both peoples and the hope for a better future for our youth or, a renewal of the cycle of violence and blood letting, the spread of religious fanaticism and an increase in political extremism.

Settlement Building Facts 1992-1996

Units under construction in 1992:
Units under construction on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, summer 1992: up to 40,000.

When the Labor-led government assumed power in 1992 it prohibited new construction and terminated construction on the great majority of the units already being built. The remaining 10,000 units, most of which were close to completion, were allowed to be finished.

With the exception of the Jerusalem area, virtually no new construction was permitted in the settlements all through the period, 1992-1996, of the Labor-led government.

Population Increase:

The increase in the number of people living in settlements from 1992 to 1996 totaled some 39,000 people. 16% of these were due to natural growth (i.e. 6,240 people). The remainder can be accounted for largely by the occupation of many f the housing units mentioned above.

In July 1992, when the Labor-government began its rein, there were approximately 106,000 settlers in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In June 1996, the population totaled about 145,000 individuals. The four years growth in population, therefore, totaled some 37% or approximately 39,000 people.

It should also be noted that more than half of the number of people who became new residents in the settlements between 1992 and 1996 actually took up residence in the Jerusalem area or in communities located literally within minutes of the pre-67' border (the 'green line').

Labor Legacy
When the new Likud-led government assumed power in the summer of 1996 it did not receive, as the previous government had, a legacy of tens of thousands of new housing units being constructed throughout the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Likud Policy
On October 17, 1996, Prime Minister Netanyahu has canceled the Labor government freeze on construction in the territories and has announced plans to expand existing settlements and build new roads and industrial parks throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On October 17 Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to personally take responsibility for advancing the new government's settlement expansion program.

Labor and Likud - The Difference

The Oslo Process
The Oslo Agreements is based on the principles of mutual recognition and territorial compromise. The Oslo "process" is based on the principle of gradualism, including the gradual redeployment of Israeli forces on the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority assumes both political and security responsibility in agreed upon areas.

Labor believes it is essential to adhere to the Oslo Process which is gradual and step by step. The idea of conducting negotiations over permanent status issues immediately, without pursuing a more gradual, supervised implementation process, is to risk undermining the entire peace process by addressing the most explosive issues in an atmosphere of distrust and enmity

Likud seeks to ignore the Oslo "process" and to advance immediately to permanent status talks without having created conditions conducive to rational and cautious decision making based on agreed and acceptable incremental changes in political and security realities on the ground.

Labor opposes construction of new settlements and the expansion of existing settlements before the final status agreements are reached.

Likud will not build new settlements at this time. However, the Likud-led government has approved the expansion of existing settlements, including the creation of new neighborhoods often well beyond the borders of current settlement boundaries.

Labor would extend Israeli sovereignty over areas of major Jewish settlement blocs. (It has been estimated that 70% of the settlers are located in several settlement blocs, and a small number of other settlements close to the pre-1967 border, on a total about 10% to 15% of the West Bank land mass).

Har Homa
Labor considers Har Homa to be within the southern municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. The governments of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were committed in principle to developing Har Homa. However, out of recognition of the consequences of a unilateral action of this kind, approval of implementation was withheld until final status talks establish undisputed boundaries for all of Jerusalem.

Likud, without heading the warnings of Israel's security establishment and without due consideration of the political consequences, chose to initiate the development program of Har Homa.

Territories and Borders - Final Status Guidelines
Labor's position is that the final status borders must be based on three principles:

1. Population separation between the 2 million plus residents of the West Bank and Gaza strip and the State of Israel.
2. Adjustments in the pre-1967 borders to accommodate Israel's security requirements.
3. There will be no foreign army west of the Jordan river.

To insure stability in the Israeli - Palestinian relationship and the viability of the emerging Palestinian entity, geographical contiguity must be allowed for on most of the West Bank.

Likud seeks to extend Israeli sovereignty over a majority of the territory on the West Bank. Included would be as many as 120 or more Jewish settlements, many of which are located within, or contiguous to, areas with large Palestinian population concentrations. This will insure the fact that there will be many small enclaves of Jewish settlers dispersed throughout the Palestinian controlled territories.

This Likud "peace plan", will result in preventing the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian geographical entity, a Palestinian sine qua non to a political settlement. It will also perpetuate and exacerbate a Bosnia like integration of population and territory.

Labor is committed to maintaining Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty. The Palestinian residents of the city will enjoy municipal rights in the quarters in which they reside, and special arrangements will be made for the sites sacred to Christianity and Islam.

Labor favors the preservation of separate residential neighborhoods in the city, in order to prevent unnecessary friction between the Jewish and Arab residents.

Likud, while advocating that Jerusalem remain united and under Israeli sovereignty, has encouraged and supported Jewish habitation in areas of the city such as Ras El Amud and Silwan, which until now have been populated exclusively by Arab residents.

Labor led governments, under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, affirmed the principle of land for peace in Syrian track negotiations.

The depth of Israel's territorial compromise on the Golan Heights is to be predicated on the depth of the peace, normalization arrangements and on security arrangements. Water sources, their protection and use, as well as arrangements for economic cooperation, will also be essential elements to any agreement.

Likud appears to be ready to consider a territorial compromise on the Golan Heights. However, its refusal to acknowledge the progress which was made in negotiations conducted by the Labor government, has created a stalemate on the Syrian track.

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