The government of Israel has entered into a pact with "terrorists and murderers" to maintain political power at any price, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said in Baltimore last night.
"It has been my custom not to say things abroad that could be interpreted as criticism of the government of Israel," Mr. Shamir told 2,000 people at the 50th Annual Brandeis Banquet of the Zionist Organization of America at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
"The problem we face is so grave that my conscience does not permit me to be silent," he said.
Mr. Shamir said the current Israeli government cannot point to a single achievement in which to take pride and therefore needs a peace with the Palestine Liberation Organization to claim the nation's confidence. "The peace will not be a real peace," he said. "It is not built on a readiness of these Arabs for a peace with us, but rather on an Arab plan to destroy Israel in stages."
He said that the PLO already is looking at the areas of Jericho and Gaza and plans to set up its capital in Jerusalem. He said the PLO plans to resettle as many as a million Arabs in Israeli territory.
"This is the Arafat plan that will be fleshed out and could, God forbid, become reality," Mr. Shamir said. "The contradictions between the promises of [Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin to the Israeli people and the promises of [Yasser] Arafat to the Arabs will eventually be revealed and will cause the collapse of this 'peace in our time,' " he said.
The irony, Mr. Shamir said, is that before the peace agreement, the PLO had "no chance to even approach their goals of destruction," much less achieve success. "Had we only been patient, we could have witnessed before long the collapse of our most extreme enemies."
Mr. Shamir said the Israelis have won every battle with the Arabs but in the end will have lost the war, "because we have acted like a defeated nation whose spirit has been crushed."
The alternative, which he told his audience would lead to a true peace, would be mass immigration, absolute preservation of the current status of Jerusalem and all other areas under Israeli control and massive construction of more Jewish strongholds.
Israeli settlements in occupied territory now have 140,000 people but will not be able to exist for any length of time under the current peace proposal, Mr. Shamir said.
They lack any possibility to expand and develop, have no reserve of land or water and are in a territory that "will be handed over to strangers who will pursue the permanent goal of Arab terror," he said.
Israeli settlers in occupied territory must believe that the people of Israel are behind them, Mr. Shamir said. "They are the real defenders of the sacred covenant between the people of Israel and the land of Israel. . . . They deserve all the support and solidarity of every Jew, wherever he lives."
Mr. Shamir's call for support and solidarity was greeted by applause -- one of two times his 20-minute speech was so interrupted. The other was when he called for "absolute preservation of the current status of Jerusalem."
Following Mr. Shamir's speech, the organization gave its highest honor, the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award, to Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii for his longtime legislative support of financial aid to Israel.
Mr. Inouye said that the honor belonged to Maryland's senators, Democrats Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, as much as himself, and saluted Mr. Shamir as "a noble warrior of Israel -- still one of the great leaders of the world."
The Hawaii senator said that the key to Israel's future is to remember its past.
"The great moments of glory of the Jewish people were with the Arabs," he said. "With wise leadership, it could happen again. I think we should all pray for that moment."
Earlier the organization presented its humanitarian award to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The foundation, the nation's 24th largest philanthropy, was cited for its financial help to hospitals, flood relief programs, service organizations, senior citizens facilities and religious institutions.