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XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 03:36 AM
Oct. 19, 2003
What's good for the goose...
By AARON ISRAELSON


In shepherding the "Geneva Initiative" the Swiss government surely acted with the best of intentions.

In pursuit of peace for Israel and the Palestinians, it circumvented Israel's elected government on an important national issue. Such kindness should not go unpaid. Switzerland, too, has political problems that could benefit from Israel's unsolicited intervention.

Switzerland must join the European Union. Though 80 percent of Swiss voted against a referendum to join the EU, Israel should not be deterred from doing what is best for Switzerland.

Current Swiss-EU bilateral agreements should be considered unsatisfactory interim measures. Switzerland belongs in the EU. Just look at the map.

Israel could initiate negotiations between Brussels and representatives of the pro-EU minority in the canton of Geneva. This canton rejected the EU referendum by 58%. If the negotiations are successful, the canton of Geneva and perhaps the rest of Switzerland will follow.

Independence, neutrality, and banking secrecy are important to the Swiss. The Israeli government should certainly take that into account when it encourages the pro-EU minority to concede all of these points in negotiations with Brussels.

Geneva is the world capital of private banking. In the context of the developing world, private banking is often a euphemism for tax evasion and stashing bribes abroad, both of which contribute to injustice and misery in those countries.

Since "injustice and misery are the principal causes of terrorism," according to the Socialist Party of Switzerland, Israel and the rest of the world have a clear interest in forcing these concessions from the Swiss.

SWITZERLAND is also on the verge of losing its standing as a democracy. One democratic axiom is the possibility of changing governments in response to the will of the people. Switzerland is about to fail this test.

The Swiss government is comprised of seven ministers chosen by the federal parliament. The political composition, however, was fixed in 1959 and is known as "the magic formula."

The three major parties - the Radical Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists - each receive two ministries, while the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) receives one.

In the federal elections of 1996, the SVP came in fourth place with 14.9% of the popular vote. In 1999, though, the SVP out-polled the other three parties with 22.6% popular support. Their demand for a second ministry at the expense of the Christian Democrats (15.6%) was rejected.

Projections - as we go to press - for the October 19 ballot show the SVP increasing its support to 26%, followed by the Socialists (22%), the Radical Democrats (20%) and the Christian Democrats (15%). Will the "magic formula" be imposed again, giving the SVP half the ministries of the Christian Democrats despite getting nearly twice the votes?

Without endorsing the SVP's sometimes racist politics, the Israeli government ought not wait for an invitation to share its expertise on coalition governments that represent the will of the people.

With Israeli assistance, Switzerland might be able to retain its place in the community of democracies. Swiss politics is too important to be left to Swiss politicians. Political intervention, invited or not, is a moral duty.

The writer is a former private banker living in Geneva.

"A person should not choose the form in which he wishes to perform the service of the Lord, but he should perform it in any manner the opportunity affords. He should be like a vessel into which anything may be poured - wine, milk, or water."

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 03:36 AM
Oct. 19, 2003
What's good for the goose...
By AARON ISRAELSON


In shepherding the "Geneva Initiative" the Swiss government surely acted with the best of intentions.

In pursuit of peace for Israel and the Palestinians, it circumvented Israel's elected government on an important national issue. Such kindness should not go unpaid. Switzerland, too, has political problems that could benefit from Israel's unsolicited intervention.

Switzerland must join the European Union. Though 80 percent of Swiss voted against a referendum to join the EU, Israel should not be deterred from doing what is best for Switzerland.

Current Swiss-EU bilateral agreements should be considered unsatisfactory interim measures. Switzerland belongs in the EU. Just look at the map.

Israel could initiate negotiations between Brussels and representatives of the pro-EU minority in the canton of Geneva. This canton rejected the EU referendum by 58%. If the negotiations are successful, the canton of Geneva and perhaps the rest of Switzerland will follow.

Independence, neutrality, and banking secrecy are important to the Swiss. The Israeli government should certainly take that into account when it encourages the pro-EU minority to concede all of these points in negotiations with Brussels.

Geneva is the world capital of private banking. In the context of the developing world, private banking is often a euphemism for tax evasion and stashing bribes abroad, both of which contribute to injustice and misery in those countries.

Since "injustice and misery are the principal causes of terrorism," according to the Socialist Party of Switzerland, Israel and the rest of the world have a clear interest in forcing these concessions from the Swiss.

SWITZERLAND is also on the verge of losing its standing as a democracy. One democratic axiom is the possibility of changing governments in response to the will of the people. Switzerland is about to fail this test.

The Swiss government is comprised of seven ministers chosen by the federal parliament. The political composition, however, was fixed in 1959 and is known as "the magic formula."

The three major parties - the Radical Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists - each receive two ministries, while the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) receives one.

In the federal elections of 1996, the SVP came in fourth place with 14.9% of the popular vote. In 1999, though, the SVP out-polled the other three parties with 22.6% popular support. Their demand for a second ministry at the expense of the Christian Democrats (15.6%) was rejected.

Projections - as we go to press - for the October 19 ballot show the SVP increasing its support to 26%, followed by the Socialists (22%), the Radical Democrats (20%) and the Christian Democrats (15%). Will the "magic formula" be imposed again, giving the SVP half the ministries of the Christian Democrats despite getting nearly twice the votes?

Without endorsing the SVP's sometimes racist politics, the Israeli government ought not wait for an invitation to share its expertise on coalition governments that represent the will of the people.

With Israeli assistance, Switzerland might be able to retain its place in the community of democracies. Swiss politics is too important to be left to Swiss politicians. Political intervention, invited or not, is a moral duty.

The writer is a former private banker living in Geneva.

"A person should not choose the form in which he wishes to perform the service of the Lord, but he should perform it in any manner the opportunity affords. He should be like a vessel into which anything may be poured - wine, milk, or water."