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Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2003 / 11 Adar I, 5763

Cal Thomas

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After Iraq, Israel

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | When Iraq is liberated from Saddam Hussein, watch for the U.S. State Department to begin another diplomatic offensive against Israel in an effort to mollify Arab states angered by the war. One does not need to be on the receiving end of leaks to know -- based on past behavior -- that the pro-Arab diplomats are promising to "do something " about Israel, which to them means the immediate creation of a Palestinian state from which Israel's enemies can gobble up the rest of that tiny country.

Based on President Bush's June 24, 2002, speech in which he outlined specific conditions that must be fulfilled by Palestinian Arabs before the United States supports creation of a Palestinian state, there is not a single indication that the Palestinian leadership is moving toward compliance with the those conditions.

The president said the Palestinians "must dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, " "end incitement " and "elect new leaders not compromised by terror. " They have refused.

Training of Palestinian Authority (PA) police and security forces began last September under the supervision of U.S., Egyptian and Jordanian officials. But Israel has protested that at least 100 of the 150 Palestinian security officers in the course "were involved in attacks on Israeli civilians " (Middle East Newsline, Sept. 17, 2002).

In the nearly eight months since the president's speech, there have been no reports of arrested or extradited terrorists, including those suspected of killing Americans. Israel has requested 45 suspected terrorists be extradited.

Nor has the PA seized any terrorist weapons. But in a search of the Taibeh mosque on Feb. 6, Israeli forces uncovered an explosive belt being prepared for use by a suicide-homicide bomber. Bomb factories, which exist in several locations throughout the West Bank and other areas, have not been closed. There are no reports of the PA leadership punishing their various factions that are engaged in terrorism.

During the week of Feb. 4-10, there were at least 38 terrorist attacks, or attempted attacks, in which two people were killed and eight wounded.

The PA has done nothing to "end the incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings, " as required by the president before there can be American support for a Palestinian state. The PA's official newspapers, television and radio continue to disseminate a steady stream of anti-Israel, anti-American invective that promotes violence. Various PA officials issue statements inciting their followers to violence. One of many examples is a 25-minute sermon broadcast live on the Voice of Palestine from the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Feb. 7, 2002, in which Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri, the PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, said: "While Muslims slaughter sheep in Id Al-Adha, the United States will slay Muslims in Iraq in order to carry out its aggressive, criminal, terrorist and inhuman designs .. Allah, deter the aggressors and conspirators. O Allah, destroy them all. O Allah, protect Iraq and its people. "

President Bush called for "fair, multi-party elections by the end of the year, with national elections to follow " to select "new leaders . not compromised by terror. " After previously announcing it would hold elections for PA chairman and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Jan. 20, 2003, the PA postponed them indefinitely. The excuse was that Israel continues to pursue terrorists in "their " territory. But based on the last election in 1996, when ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation were widely reported, it is doubtful that even if elections were held they would be "free and fair. "

That leaves the president's other requirement for the PA to "build democracy based on tolerance and liberty " and "confront corruption, " but corruption remains the norm. According to the Jerusalem Post (Jan. 2, 2003): "Palestinian Authority officials and institutions in the Gaza Strip are involved in stealing basic food supplies and medicine provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). " Captured documents show that PA officials have been selling the food and medicine on the black market since 1996.

None of this will matter to Arabists in the State Department, who have blind faith that the cause of Middle East turmoil is Israel alone and only what Israel does determines whether there will be peace or unrest in the region. President Bush's conditions are minimums before any realistic peace might be attained. But the PA is not even meeting those minimal conditions. Based on past and present performance, it is safe to say that the intentions of the PA remain total annihilation of Israel by diplomatic hook or by terrorist crook.

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JWR contributor Cal Thomas is the author of, among others, The Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas Comment by clicking here.

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