Mitzna's policies could not be more different from Ariel Sharon's and Benjamin Netanyahu's the two candidates competing to lead the Likkud party in January's election. Far from coldshouldering or expelling the Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, Mitzna would open peace discussions fom him. Far from reinforcing and extending the illegal Jewish settlements built on occupied land, Mitzna would stop further construction and uproot the existng ones. Far from intensifying Israeli army incursions into Gaza and the West Bank, he would withdraw unilaterally from these areas according to the Israeli interest.
The polls are predicting a victory for Likkud in January, whether under Sharon or Netanyahu. But if Amram Mitzna has won the Labour leadership convincingly he will have a base from which to offer the Israeli people a valid alternative to the present government's negative and counterproductive policies.
The Spanish fishermen of Galicia and all those who live, work and visit the lovely coastline that is now so disastrously affected by the oil from the tanker Prestige deserve sympathy and help. However the attitude of the Spanish government in blaming the disaster on the port authorities of Gibraltar and, therefore, indirectly on Britain is of no help to anyone. The Prestige was built in Japan, registered in the Bahamas and owned by a Greek company; it set sail from Latvia for Singapore, but whether it was due at Gibraltar or not or had been there, has not been satisfactorily established. In any case, the accusation by Loyola de Palacio, Spain's European Union Transport Commissioner that this was yet another case of tax evasion, smuggling and inappropriate behaviour seems wildly wide of the mark. The real issue is why a ship built in 1976 with a singleskin hull construction, designed to be phased out internationally in 2015, should be at sea in appalling weather loaded with 77'000 tons of crude oil. There are probably dozens of such super rustbuckets plying the oceans every one a disaster waiting to happen. Who takes the responsibility for the longterm environmental and other damage caused by such disasters?
The simple answer is that the owners of the ship should, but ownership nowadays is frequently so diffused that it would often be difficult to establish responsibility. What is clear is that the cost should not fall wholly on the blameless government and its citizens whose life and livelihood have been blighted.
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