In a meeting with the speaker of the Palestinian "parliament" on Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated his hope that one day soon there will be a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel.
Leave it to Powell, the weak link in the war on terrorism, to resurrect U.S. support for what former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls "Arafatistan."
Everything that's happened since the Oslo Accords demonstrates that a Palestinian state would lead to the demise of the Jewish state.
Whatever his soothing words for Western ears, Arafat remains committed to a one-state solution. In a Jan. 23 interview with the Israeli news agency IMRA, a senior Palestinian official admitted that the PLO National Covenant's call for the annihilation of the "Zionist entity" has never been repealed, despite Arafat's repeated promises, from Oslo on, to do so.
The leader of the jihad now says he's committed to fighting terrorism. But as long ago as 1997, Clinton presented him with a list of terrorist leaders whose arrest was considered essential. So did CIA Director George Tenet last June. As has Jerusalem periodically. The messiah will come before Arafat acts.
Beside his involvement with terrorism, direct and indirect, Arafat has created a culture of hatred and bloodlust. Anti-Semitic incitement saturates the authority's media, sermons, speeches, textbooks and even indoctrination at children's summer camps.
The slaughter since October 2000 is a foretaste of Palestinian statehood. Arafat and his hordes will never be satisfied with what they regard as the liberation of part of Palestine. Palestinian sovereignty would be followed by total militarization. Then, Arafat will begin probing, start border incidents, incite the 1 million Arabs left in the remnant of Israel. By whatever means necessary, he will drag other Arab states into another general war with Israel -- from the strongest position they've ever been in.
Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Knesset for the Likud Party, has thought about this with a clarity unusual for a politician -- from an unusual perspective. With a Ph.D. in philosophy, Steinitz is a former member of the Israeli Peace Now movement, which opposed the nation's presence in Lebanon in the 1980s.
The Karine A, Arafat's big-time attempt at arms smuggling, isn't a "terror ship," Steinitz insists, but a "war ship." Its manifest included Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles, long-range mortars, mines, rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles. These aren't the tools of terrorism, but the instruments of war.
"With such large quantities of Katyushas and heavy mortars, the Palestinians could constitute light artillery batteries," the MK notes, "with the ability to put Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, military and civilian airports, and industrial plants under attack."
In a general war, Palestinian units could infiltrate Israel proper, reaching vital points in the nation's heartland (including roads reservists use for mobilization) within hours.
"Once there, they could wholly subvert the 24-hour mobilization strategy Israel relies on to fend off the far larger armies of its Arab adversaries," Steinitz warns.
That's why few Israeli politicians of the right or left speak any longer of Palestinian statehood.
Netanyahu envisions an agreement, not with Arafat but his successors, wherein Palestinians will have some self-rule, but Israel will control airspace, international passage points and West Bank aquifers (the source of much of its water). Such an entity must be totally demilitarized. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin considered the last the most important guarantee of Oslo.
But don't the Palestinians -- as the cliche goes -- deserve to live in their own land, under their own laws? Not when, according to a Feb. 2 poll, 69 percent believe that a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis is impossible "under any circumstances" and 82 percent think the murder of 21 Israeli teen-agers at a Tel Aviv nightclub was not an act of terrorism.
As the hero used to say to the villain in old Westerns, "There ain't room enough in this town for the two of us." There isn't enough space in the entire Middle East for Israel and Arafatistan, let alone living side-by-side.