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Jewish World Review March 25, 1999 /8 Nissan 5759

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Yasser Arafat:
bad cop, worse cop

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
YASSER ARAFAT'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON ON TUESDAY (March 23) allowed him to play his bad cop-worse cop role. He has pledged to declare an independent Palestinian state on May 4 in violation of the Oslo accords, but he might delay the declaration if he gets concessions from the United States and Israel.

The Clinton administration, which worked to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his run against Shimon Peres in 1996, does not want Netanyahu to win again in the coming May elections because it erroneously thinks Netanyahu, not Arafat, is the primary impediment to peace. If Arafat declares a state, the Israeli electorate might move to the right, guaranteeing Netanyahu victory. Such a declaration would further complicate matters because Israel might annex the territory it still holds.

Arafat probably wants more money and concessions from the United States. But as a Jerusalem Post editorial correctly stated, "it is entirely inappropriate to `pay' Arafat for not acting recklessly.'' He should be required to live up to both the Oslo and Wye agreements, which committed both sides to negotiate a final settlement.

Arafat's ultimate intentions are frequently on display at home. Only four days before leaving for Washington, Arafat declared to a crowd of 3,000 Fatah members in Ramallah: "The state will be established with Jerusalem as its capital, whether they like it or not. If they don't like it they can drink from the waters of the Dead Sea.'' Is this the language of a peacemaker, a peacekeeper?

A picture is worth
at least a
thousand words
The Palestinian Authority continues to violate -- or fail to live up to -- most of the agreements it has signed. But the its rhetoric and what it is teaching the next generation demonstrate its intentions to claim all of the land, including Israel, for Palestinians.

Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who recently toured Israel, gave a speech on March 3 that was mostly ignored by the press. In it, he summed up the objections many have to pressuring Israel without movement by the Palestinian Authority toward fulfilling its obligations.

On the Senate floor Mack asked the ultimate question: "How is it possible to engage in peace negotiations with people who maintain the right to obliterate you, who are filled with hatred toward you and who harbor the dream of one day destroying your homeland? Peace is a matter of the heart.''

Mack said of the Palestinian Authority: "Their hearts and minds are set on other goals (than peace) .... They want, first, their own state which they can control with total power. Then they want to use that state to eliminate the state of Israel.''

He labeled the administration's approach to Arafat "foolish appeasement,'' and he mentioned scenes he had seen on videotape and books in Palestinian schools that teach hatred of Jews and affirm the "wisdom'' of children who choose to be martyrs.

"How would you feel if your government was teaching your children to hate?'' asked Mack. "Could you conclude that they were serious about long-term peace with their neighbors?'' Children's textbooks define Israel as the "Zionist enemy'' that attacks civilians and hates Muslim unity.

Mack says he met with Palestinian Christians who told him they were tortured and discriminated against for their faith. He wondered: "How can the people of Israel find peace with the Palestinian Authority while the Palestinian Authority engages in coercion and torture based upon religious beliefs?'' It's a question President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright probably did not ask Arafat.

The Wye agreement established a timeline. At prescribed moments when Israel does something, such as relinquish land, the PA is supposed to reciprocate. Israel has given up land, but the PA has failed to live up to its side of the bargain. Israel doesn't want to commit suicide -- but it is being asked to by the Clinton administration in the name of "peace.''

It is a fool's bargain. As Mack said, "In the United States, many people seem to think that if we do not confront these obstacles to peace and if we look the other way, then we will be able to come to an agreement. The reality, however, is just the opposite. If we do not acknowledge the attitudes and acts of those at the peace table, then the peace process is already over, and we just won't admit it.''

Arafat shouldn't be pressuring us. We should be pressuring him. But that would require the administration to remove its blinders, hold the PA accountable for its behavior and acknowledge its deadly ultimate objectives.


Up

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