May, 23 2001
By Amos Perlmutter
- Last week the Israeli-Palestinian conflict witnessed the greatest escalation of Palestinian terror and Israeli response since the beginning of the intifada eight months ago. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is in charge of terror and so is his organization, the PLO. He was never a true partner for peace with Israel and he is clearly demonstrating it now.
He rides the chariot of war toward Palestinian independence and praying at Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Oslo process is dead, and its death is clearly Arafat's doing. Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to equip the Palestinian police only with pistols. Arafat flagrantly violated Oslo and created an army of 35,000 so-called policemen now armed with mortars and heavy munition with which to terrorize Israel.
As predicted by many, Arafat has escalated the war with the hope of getting the Americans involved. The Mitchell Committee calls for evenhandedness between the parties, thereby lifting Arafat from his ignominious isolation into a partnership with the United States.
The commission was set up only for purposes of investigating the causes of the recent conflict. Its recommendations were never intended to be a basis for policy. It called for the end of Palestinian violence and for the Israelis to freeze the growth of the settlements. It is unfortunate that Secretary of State Colin Powell considers the commission recommendation a benchmark for negotiations.
Like hundreds of other commissions since the establishment of the State of Israel , this one has not achieved its purpose. It should be clear to the diplomats and Arabists of the State Department who now dominate the Bush administration's Middle East policy, that if they examine the various commissions carefully, they will find that after each commission , there was not only no implementation of their recommendations, but also an escalation of violence.
It is curious that, while President George W. Bush courageously and correctly calls for the end of violence and terror, his secretary of state and his minions contradict those intentions. The Mitchell Committee certainly does not promise the end of violence, but may rather give legitimacy to Arafat the terrorist, who is not interested in a cease-fire. Diplomats should be aware that any American contact with Arafat, like the planned meeting with Powell in Geneva, will only embolden his purposes. Arafat and the PA have declared war, not Israel, as the propagandists imply in their mission of deception.
The commission recommends a package deal, i.e. end of violence and settlements, but who will be the first to make concessions? The Sharon government has said it will not negotiate under fire. The Palestinians, with the help of the commission and the European Union (proven to be a party to Palestinian purposes), have used the settlements as an obstacle to peace.
BUT ISRAELI settlements were not an issue in 1993 when the Oslo Agreement was made. It was clearly understood that once confidence-building measures took place, a territorial arrangement would be made between Israel and the Palestinians. Having lost their diplomatic battle at Camp David and having no other recourse to justify their violence, the Palestinians once again came up with the Israeli settlement policy as a way to justify violence and terrorism. It is not surprising that the commission has accepted the standing US position against the settlements.
Thus, the much-touted "balance" in the commission's recommendations is no benchmark for settlement of the most pernicious issues in the relationship between the two parties.
There is no balance in politics. It is surprising that politicians on the commission have recommended such an unrealistic, unworkable solution to the impasse. The only "balance" that will emerge from the commission, will be the return of Arafat to the White House, which is all he has in mind, as a palliative toward his relentless pursuit of his revolutionary war of independence.
Arafat and the Arab states believe, correctly, that they can garner American and EU support for the freeze of settlements as these parties have been opposed to Israeli settlements since they began after 1967. Acceptance of the commission recommendations gives a platform to Arafat and his propagandists to portray Israel as a rejectionist, war mongering state that is going to war against the "innocent" Palestinians.
As for Israel, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has indicated his acceptance of the commission's recommendations. This, despite the fact that his prime minister rejected them. It is now necessary for Israel to outflank Arafat by playing his game of accepting the recommendations, but calling for specific modifications that, for all intents and purposes, will nullify them. This would knock out the EU "peace lovers" led by the anti-American French. Israel must make it clear that it accepts the commission on the basis of the end of violence first. Israel must also muzzle the anti-Israeli media and throw the ball back into the lap of the EU by appearing to accept the commission's recommendations.
International politics are conducted by the media in today's world. Israel must win this war.
©2001 - Jerusalem Post