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2005-01-25—Sharon-Tu B'Shevat

Harrison Weblog

2005 blog


Sharon says it's time for Israel to have
a written constitution—even if imperfect
,  Jan. 25, 2005

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, noting that today's (Tuesday, Jan. 25)  holiday of Tu B'Shevat not only is the birthday of the trees but also is the 56th birthday of the Knesset, suggested there still is some important fruit for the Knesset to bear: a written constitution for the State of Israel.

While disagreeing that the "Knesset sinned" in failing to write a constitution thus far, Sharon said "in every proper state, a constitution that expresses its society's identity card is a necessity.  This also applies to us.  And still, I believe that greater and more important than this need is the need in a society which is comprised of so many diversities and sectors—not to say factions, such as Israeli society—to draft a constitution which stems from agreement."

The prime minister said only with societal agreement can a constitution be achieved.. "Even if we do not succeed in drafting the constitution exactly as we wish, it is perhaps better to have a constitution with a few defects, but which was achieved by agreement and not by coercion."

Choosing a Tu B'Shevat metaphor to lecture his colleagues on their responsibility, Sharon said that "the task of the Knesset—to which the people gave its trust and entrusted with its fate—is to lead it and guide it towards its future.  The Knesset was not elected to serve as a club for fruitless discussions, but to make courageous decisions, while envisioning the larger national interests."

Turning to the debate over his decision to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza and a portion of the West Bank, Sharon said: "Regrettably, during the past year, voices were raised among us threatening the integrity of Israeli democracy and explicitly declaring the unwillingness of various bodies to accept democratic decisions made by the Knesset in accordance with the law.

"The Knesset, the supreme institution of Israeli democracy, and the entire Israeli democratic system will defend themselves against those who rise to harm them, and the Knesset's decisions will be fully implemented," he said.
 —Donald H. Harrison