Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Oct. 26, 2000 / 27 Tishrei, 5761

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Phony Truce -- OH, WHAT A SPLENDID TRUCE that was. Actually, it is clear now, there never really was a truce; what the Israelis and the Palestinians agreed to under intense pressure from the Clinton administration last week in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh was something much less than that.

Jibril Rajoub, the chief of security for Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, made the front page of Tuesday's Boston Globe with a simple statement: "There was not an agreement at all in Sharm el-Sheikh, not public nor private, not security nor political." This was, as is typically the case with statements from Arafat's regime, a self-serving distortion. But there is some truth here; and a good starting point for contemplating what we have now in Israel--which is not peace, not even truce, but war and the promise of more war, because the Palestinians want more war--is to assess what really came out of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Rajoub is wrong to say that no agreement at all was reached there. In a very narrow sense, an agreement of sorts was reached: Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed, separately, to take several individual steps that, it was very cautiously hoped, would end the fighting, or at least reduce it, and begin the process of returning to the status quo ante. Israel promised to reopen the Gaza airport, pull back its troops from the edges of the Palestinian territory and reopen the borders. The Palestinian Authority promised to take steps to stop attacks on Israeli positions and civilians, to curtail public incitement to further attacks and to re-arrest Islamic terrorists the authority had released from prison the week before.

But these commitments did not constitute an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, only between those entities and the United States. Neither side ever agreed with the other to anything close to a truce, nor did they agree to anything resembling a pact. Nobody signed anything at Sharm el-Sheikh.

"The important commitments" President Clinton announced were described only in the president's oral statement, and therefore meant only what the U.S. government interpreted them to mean. What Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and, more important, Arafat thought they meant we do not know, because the White House did not allow Barak or Arafat to speak at the conclusion of the meeting. The reason is obvious in retrospect: Had Arafat opened his mouth it would have been instantly clear that he did not view the "important commitments" as either important or commitments.

The phony truce was exposed for what it was immediately. Although the Palestinian Authority did (or at least so it was claimed) re-arrest some of the released terrorists and issue a brief, tepid call for an end to violence, these steps were the merest pro forma nod, a sort of jest in the context of the overall Palestinian response.

Palestinian attacks on Israel and Israelis never stopped. The first new attacks came the day after the agreement, when a powerful bomb exploded on a Gaza road as a convoy of Israeli military and civilian vehicles passed. Numerous other attacks were counted that day. The next day, Palestinians opened fire on 37 Jewish settlers, including women and children, who were traveling to a hill overlooking the remains of Joseph's Tomb, a Jewish holy site near Nablus previously destroyed by the Palestinians. The resultant gun battle claimed two lives, an Israeli and a Palestinian. The violence, generally instigated by the Palestinians, has continued ever since.

The Palestinian Authority has not acted in any serious way to stop the continual incitement to violence against Jews that spews from its radio and television stations--stations owned and entirely controlled by the authority. The Israelis are referred to as "war criminals," and the Palestinian victims of the violence are portrayed as holy martyrs; shootings of Palestinians are played on television over and over, while the exceptionally brutal murder of two Israeli soldiers never has been shown. The authority did allow, however, one response to that double murder to be aired--a sermon the next day by Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya defending the killings. The sermon's title: "Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews."

As for Arafat himself? He wants peace so sincerely that he took the conciliatory step, on the very day that a reluctant Barak called for a "timeout" in the peace process, of telling Barak that the Palestinians would "continue on their road to Jerusalem, the capital of our independent state." And if Barak did not accept that, the great peace-processor added, "Let him go to hell."

At least now we all know where we stand.

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


10/19/00: The Talking Cure
10/12/00: Doves' Day of Reckoning
10/05/00: Conan the veep
09/28/00: Dumb vs. Dishonest
09/21/00: Flapping furiously
09/14/00: Down AlGore's Memory Hole
08/24/00: AlGore's Flex-O-Joe
08/17/00: The Joyful Clinton Nation
08/09/00: A Calculated Risk
08/03/00: New Hope for Nice Guys
07/27/00: But What About Dad?
07/20/00: U.S. Handiwork In Sierra Leone
07/13/00: President With a Porpoise
07/06/00: The Importance of Being Earnest
06/29/00: A Press Obsession With the Death Penalty
06/21/00: Gore and the Goodies
06/15/00: Network Snooze
06/01/00: Sunshine on My Shoulders
05/24/00: Last Chance for a Hardened Prevaricator
05/17/00: Cuomo's Thought Police
05/10/00: Hammering DeLay
05/04/00: Some Closing Thoughts
04/28/00: Endangering Elian
04/19/00: Imitation Activism
04/12/00: Why they hate Bubba
04/05/00: Census and nonesense
03/29/00: The Stiffs and Their Statuettes
03/15/00: Anarchy in Kosovo
03/08/00: Reform joke
03/01/00:The Pinhead Factor
03/01/00: The Christian Right: Past Its Prime . . .
02/24/00: McCain's Majority
02/16/00: Sharpton's Supplicants
02/09/00: The GOP Pilgrims' Sad Tale
02/02/00: Fodder For the GOP
01/26/00: Million-Dollar Mediocrity
01/19/00: Campaign Reform: Let's Pretend
01/12/00: Never Again? Oh, Never Mind
01/05/00: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In
12/22/99: Gore's TV Gambit
12/15/99: Campaigns Do Clarify
12/08/99: Kosovo's Killers
12/01/99: Not Ready for Prime Time?
11/24/99: The Company He Keeps
11/17/99: Republican Illusion
11/10/99: The Know-Nothing Media
11/03/99: Necessary Partisanship
10/27/99: Buchanan's Gift to George W. Bush
10/21/99: Who are the real friends of the poor?
10/14/99: Gore's 'courage'!?
10/08/99: Republican Stunts
09/23/99: Buchanan's folly
09/16/99: Beatty and Buchanan: That's Entertainment!
09/09/99: Puerto Rico Surprise (Cont'd)
09/02/99: Puerto Rico Surprise
08/12/99:The Age of No Class
08/05/99: Assessing Welfare Reform
07/29/99: On the Wrong Side
07/21/99: Mass Sentimentality
07/15/99: Blame Hillary
07/08/99: Guide to the Arts: For Your Summer Reading . . .
06/30/99: A Perfectly Clintonian Doctrine
06/25/99:Smorgasbord by the Sea
06/16/99: A National Calamity
06/09/99: Stumbling Forward
06/02/99: Commencement '90s-Style
05/26/99: Will we ever learn? Clintochio is a lying ...
05/19/99: Comforting Milosevic
05/13/99: Short-Order Strategists
05/06/99: Four Revolting Spectacles

©1999, Washington Post Co.