Israel Report

June 2001         

Arafat is Making Fools of Everyone

By Ze'ev Schiff
June 22, 2001

There is no better example of the cynical attitude of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and of PA Chairman Arafat himself, to acts of terror, and of their disdain for keeping agreements, than their handling of the slaughter carried out by a suicide bomber at the discotheque in the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium that has now claimed 21 young lives.The Shin Bet (General Security Services) quickly found out who was involved in this act of terror. At a meeting of the Supreme Security Committee, Israel presented the Palestinian delegates with the names of two Hamas men who had sent the bomber: one from Nablus, and one from Qalqiliyah. The Palestinians were asked to arrest the two immediately - and the Americans supported this demand.

What actually happened? The two men responsible for the terrorist attack at the Dolphinarium were invited to a meeting at the offices of one of the Palestinian security services. In a conversation - not an interrogation - with the PA security agents, the two admitted their involvement in sending the suicide bomber to Tel Aviv and preparing him for the attack. And here comes the interesting part: The two were warned by the Palestinian security people not to carry out similar activities in the future - and apparently they have even signed an agreement to that effect! After that chat, they were released to their homes. At a second meeting of the Supreme Security Committee, the Palestinians were asked what they had done with the two men involved in the terrorist act. Their answer was: "They have been warned!"

Whoever gave instructions to treat the two perpetrators of terror in this manner becomes a full partner to the slaughter and is responsible for encouraging additional murderous acts of terror. It further shows that Israel has an absolute right to defend itself, and to stop acts of terror (an activity which, for some reason, has been defined as "elimination"). This story is a typical example of how the PA works today. Israel also presented a list of about 35 people who are planning acts of terror, including eight or 10 who intend on suicide attacks.

This is proof of how Arafat is making fools of Israel and of the Americans. All this would not be happening without Arafat's approval. By his method of administration and domination, he makes sure to sow confusion even among his delegates in the Supreme Security Committee. Each of these senior delegates is separately responsible to him directly, so he thus prevents true coordination even among his own representatives. It is not only his political echelon that wonders what Arafat really wants; the same is true of the heads of his security services.

Only someone suffering from amnesia can ignore similar behavior on his part in the past - his dozens of violations of agreements with Arab countries, and of cease-fire agreements in Lebanon and in Jordan. One could write a fascinating doctoral thesis about it. The debate that has raged in Israel concerning the extent to which Arafat controls what happens in the territories is absurd. And it is also harmful to Israel. It's true that there are some "black holes" in Arafat's control - like the popular opposition committees in Rafiah. But there is no longer any doubt among all Israel's intelligence arms that Arafat bears full responsibility for what goes on, for good or for ill.

Arafat must not be allowed to make a fool of Israel in the matter of the cease-fire. Therefore, we must not make any allowances for him when it comes to preserving the cease-fire agreement. That is the big mistake which many, including Israel and the Americans, have made in the past. If Israel does not now insist on complete observance of the cease-fire, and on honoring the agreements, we will not succeed in doing so at any time in the future - as long as Arafat leads the Palestinians.

A system that allows one to kill Israelis, while at the same time conduct negotiations - this technique was embarrassingly demonstrated when the delegations met in Taba (during peace negotiations in January, shortly before the elections for prime minister) - is unacceptable. This means that we should not conduct political negotiations with Arafat, or accept his proposal to hold international congresses and meetings with him, so long as the acts of killing continue and the cease-fire agreement is being violated, both openly and covertly

©2001 - Ha'aretz

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