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Jewish World Review July 12, 2000 / 9 Tamuz, 5760

Cal Thomas

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Neither the time nor the place for a summit --
THE COLLAPSE of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's governing coalition and the intransigence of the Palestinian Authority, which has failed to live up to previous agreements with Israel, make this the worst possible moment to hold a Middle East "peace'' summit.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has announced his intention to declare an independent state on Sept. 13. A report in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz says the announcement will be accompanied by a proclamation that the state will absorb all territories conquered by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem. Final borders and the status of Jerusalem were supposed to be negotiated, not unilaterally pronounced.

Ha'aretz reports that following the statehood declaration Palestinian leaders will regard any show of force by Israel or the annexation of territory (as Prime Minister Barak has said he might do) as an act of war. There is also the possibility of a massive Palestinian uprising, orchestrated by Arafat and accompanied by invading Arab armies, for the purpose of eradicating the Jewish state -- the objective of Israel's enemies since 1948. Any American assistance would be too little, too late, given Israel's diminished land mass.

For most of its modern existence Israel has seen its survival as its own responsibility. Israel would accept help from its "friend,'' the United States, but would never come to depend on such assistance. These assumptions have changed -- and the attitude of the Barak government (and the Arabists in the State Department) is that Israel can trust the United States, even though America has a checkered past at promise-keeping.

A full-page ad in the June 6 Ha'aretz detailed some of the broken U.S. security guarantees to Israel following the 1948 and 1956 wars. The United States promised Israel military supplies to deter Arab military aggression, through the April 1950 Tripartite Declaration with Britain and France. President Dwight Eisenhower reiterated America's commitment in 1955, but failed to follow through, thus nurturing Arab belligerence, which led to the Sinai Campaign in 1956.

President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles issued executive guarantees to activate the U.S. Navy in order to secure free passage of vessels to the port of Eilat and to keep the Sinai demilitarized. In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson failed to live up to that guarantee, paving the way to the Six-Day War.

The late Sen. Henry "Scoop'' Jackson (D-Wash.) dismissed U.S. guarantees, calling them harmful delusions. Jackson noted such guarantees didn't save Cambodia or Vietnam. In 1976 UCLA political science professor Noah Pelcovits analyzed more than 100 arrangements in which great powers pledged to protect small powers. He found "there is only one chance in three that the protector will come to the aid of its ally in wartime.''

Since Israel's decisive victory in the Yom Kippur war, U.S policy has slowly changed from defending Israel to pressuring it. Now Israel's presence in the region is regarded as the cause of conflict, which ignores the centuries of Arab genocide and warfare before 1948.

The Oslo agreements and the Wye River accords specifically require (ital) both (unital) parties -- Israel and the Palestinians -- to take specific actions. Israel has upheld its part of the agreements by relinquishing land purchased with Jewish blood in an effort to defend itself. The Palestinian side has violated the letter and intent of virtually every agreement to which it has been a party. Statements by Palestinian and Arab leaders show they have no intention of coexisting peacefully with Israelis. Many of their religious leaders preach that Jews are infidels who deserve to die. These are not the voices of peace and reconciliation, but of war and eradication.

Israel has made tangible, critical, painful and irreversible concessions of territory crucial to its survival. In return, it is promised intangible, vague, uncertain and open-ended "guarantees,'' whose implementation depends on America's interests, not Israel's.

Under no circumstances should Barak agree to a phony "peace'' that will not last. This sham "peace process'' should be put on hold for the next American administration, and possibly the next Israeli one, to deal with. Meanwhile, Israel should prepare for another war, which is coming as surely as the next Palestinian broken promise.

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