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Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Demise of peace effort
won election for Sharon

Bullet The issue: Ariel Sharon has been elected prime minister of Israel, defeating Ehud Barak.

Bullet Our view: The failure of Barak's peace talks with the Palestinians and the ensuing riots prompted Israelis to turn to Sharon.

ISRAELIS elected Ariel Sharon prime minister yesterday because his opponent, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, failed to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

It was not for lack of trying. Barak, prodded by Bill Clinton at the Camp David summit last summer, offered the Palestinians the most sweeping concessions ever made by an Israeli leader, including control over Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, 95 percent of the occupied West Bank and virtually all of Gaza.

But Yasser Arafat spurned Barak's offer, and the peace process collapsed amid Palestinian rioting. Israelis asked whether the decades-old strategy of exchanging land for peace had proved bankrupt. It appeared to some that the Arabs would be satisfied with nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

Reeling from these blows, Barak lost his paper-thin majority in parliament and was forced to call the election. Despite the reluctance of some to turn to the conservative Sharon, Barak's defeat was no surprise.

The failure of the peace initiative, followed by months of riots, left Israelis disillusioned with the Labor government. They turned to a man of the right, who vowed a firm hand in repelling Palestinian attacks and no more extravagant offers to their leaders.

Sharon, like Barak, is a retired general and military hero. His moment of glory came when he played a key role in turning the tide in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, after Egyptian forces surprised Israel by attacking across the Suez Canal. His darkest hour came in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, when an official inquiry found that he bore indirect responsibility for the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christians.

Sharon has repudiated the concessions proposed by Barak and can be counted on to take a harder line in relations with the Palestinians. But he does not rule out further negotiations, and the Palestinians may have no choice but to deal with him eventually, much as he is reviled by them.

The new prime minister has refused to negotiate while the Jewish state is under siege by the rioters, which may mean months or even years without talks.

This is understandable. No one likes to negotiate with a gun at his head, and Israel is too strong to be intimidated by the Palestinians.

In any case, a pause may be useful. Relations have been embittered by the fighting and both sides need to take stock of the realities limiting a potential peace agreement.

Sharon will have to deal with the same narrowly divided parliament that forced Barak's resignation, and he may have much the same trouble as Barak in establishing leadership. He will have the additional problem of overcoming his dark image as a reckless hawk and killer of innocents. But he campaigned as a moderate who, like all Israelis, wants peace. He may find a way to succeed where Barak failed.

Turn stadium over
to university control

Bullet The issue: University of Hawaii officials have suggested transferring control of Aloha Stadium to the university.

Bullet Our view: The stadium could bring a significant amount of revenue to the university through corporate sponsorship.

SINCE 1975, the University of Hawaii football team has been an Aloha Stadium tenant, a state institution paying rent to another state agency, the Department of Accounting and General Services. The landlord-tenant relationship makes little sense. The football team pays $800,000 a year in rent.

University officials have proposed that Aloha Stadium become officially the team's home field by placing the stadium under UH jurisdiction. That would be a sensible move for both the university and the state government.

UH Athletic Director Hugh Yoshida and football Coach June Jones, supported by outgoing university President Kenneth Mortimer, proposed the idea, and Governor Cayetano has given his endorsement.

"If the stadium goes under the jurisdiction of the university, one thing is clear: The stadium has to be self-sufficient, as it is now," Cayetano said. "And they're going to have to find ways to generate revenue."

One obvious method of generating revenue -- used repeatedly at stadiums throughout the country -- would be to sell the stadium's naming rights.

At Oregon State University, Cayetano noted, the university accepted a $5 million donation two years ago from businessman Al Reser, a Beaver graduate, renaming its stadium in his name for 10 years, with the option of keeping his name on the former Parker Stadium until 2024 for an additional $7.5 million.

Aloha Stadium's status as a venue for nationally televised bowl games could drive the price for a corporate signature much higher.

Moreover, the opportunity for the UH Athletic Department to receive revenue beyond the saved rent could be an incentive to strive harder to find other ways to generate income than is currently the case with the stadium under Accounting and General Services.

The stadium could become a tidy source of funding for the university instead of a nonsensical expense.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

Frank Bridgewater, Acting Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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