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Jewish World Review April 11, 2002 / 30 Nisan, 5762

Michael Kelly

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Peace in Mideast will only be brought about through war | I heard a good one the other day. It was from someone I am permitted to call a Close Observer of the Bush Administration's Foreign Policy, and it was on the afternoon that President Bush told Ariel Sharon to let Yasser Arafat out of his room, and told Arafat to settle down and be a partner for peace after all. On this latter point, I expressed doubt. "Well," said Close Observer, "there is always a possibility the dog will sing."

Well, it could happen. Actually, it could not. On Monday, Sharon announced that he would, grudgingly in accord with Bush's demand, begin to withdraw some Israeli forces from the West Bank. But the Israeli prime minister took care, in his Monday speech to a special session of the Israeli parliament, to make clear that Israel would continue its offensive, and why.

"Our dead lie in a long row: women and children, young and old," he said in a terrible and sad evocation of life under the suicide bomb. "And there is one dispatcher: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. He is the man who, in a series of agreements, promised to abandon the path of terrorism, refrain from committing murder, use his forces to prevent it -- and betrayed all his promises."

This is the crux of the crisis: Sharon's statement is true and everyone knows it. The edifice of Oslo depended utterly on believing Arafat's explicit promise, as the head of the Palestinian people, to be, as it was sweetly said, a partner for peace. If Arafat was willing to do what he could to stop terrorism against Israeli citizens -- he was never asked to succeed, only to seriously try -- Israel would overlook everything else awful and corrupt about him and his Palestinian Authority, and would admit the necessity of a Palestinian state, and would trade land and money and even security for peace.

But during the current crisis, it has become impossible to maintain the fiction of Arafat as a pursuer of peace (impossible, that is, except for certain members of the news media and the Nobel Peace Prize committee). It has become impossible to deny that he is anything other than, as Sharon said, the architect of the Palestinian war and the dispatcher of Palestinian mass murder.

This is no longer a matter of belief, or rhetoric, but evidence:

  • The Karine A. As Robert Satloff sums up in the current issue of the National Interest, Israeli, American and European officials have confirmed that Arafat's Palestinian Authority was the moving force, paymaster and operational supervisor of the attempt, foiled by the Israelis on Jan. 3, to smuggle 50 tons of Iranian-supplied rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, assault rifles and C-4 explosives by freighter into Gaza.

    The smugglers' ship, the Karine A, was purchased by Adel Awadallah, the head of the Palestinian Authority's procurement arm, with $400,000 provided by Fuad Shobaki, director of the PA's Military Financial Administration and one of Arafat's closest advisers. The buy was supervised by two PA naval police officials, Fathi Razam and Omar Akawi.

  • The Al Aqsa Martyrs invoice. On April 2 Israel made public an invoice that was found among documents taken by Israeli troops in Arafat's Ramallah compound. The invoice, titled "Financial Report" and dated Sept. 16, 2001, appears to be a bill to the Palestinian Authority from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which the United States officially recognizes as a terrorist organization and credits with a series of suicide bombings and shootings. It requests from Arafat's government payment for, among other things, electrical and chemical components for 30 bombs: "We need about 5-9 bombs a week for our cells in various areas." The Bush administration has found no reason to doubt Israeli's characterization of this document as genuine.

  • The Tanzim and Fatah payments. These documents, found in Arafat's offices, authorize cash payments to various commanders and active operatives in the Tanzim and Fatah terrorist brigades, which are credited with numerous lethal attacks on Israelis. The authorizations appear to be signed by Arafat himself. Again, the U.S. government has no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the documents.

Neither Israel nor America can any longer pretend Arafat is anything but the overall director of the war against Israel. It is possible, of course, to make peace with him still. But only by defeating him, and the forces under his command, and negotiating from the point of their surrender. And surrender stems from victory in war.

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