By Uri Dan
The Israel Navy's successful interception of the Palestinian weapons ship this week is another example of seeing the writing on the wall. No great imagination is needed to realize how much more serious Israel's position would be if Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had succeeded in smuggling such quantities of arms had he received from prime minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami the 97 percent of Judea and Samaria that they had promised him.
After all, the Santorini, the ship that transported the floating arsenal from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip, was captured during its fourth such voyage. No one can say at present how many other vessels succeeded in unloading their cargoes of death on the shores of Gaza.
The mortars firing their shells in a terrorist campaign from the Gaza Strip, the endless bullets fired in the Strip and in Judea and Samaria by the Palestinians, prove that they- have no shortage of such weapons and others that have not yet been removed from their hiding places. Additional weapons are being smuggled from Jordan. And above all, in the seven years since the government of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres brought Arafat to the gates of Jerusalem, the PA has not ceased to dig tunnels in order to smuggle weapons from the Sinai Desert to the Gaza Strip.
One person only directs all this smuggling - Arafat. While trampling on every clause in the agreements he signed with Israel, his PA has spent tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars since 1994 in order to set up the armed gangs that are fighting against Israel. Arafat has even used his personal aircraft to smuggle arms.
Instead of the 30,000 armed men that the agreements permit Arafat to retain, he currently controls at least double this number. The ship's capture only emphasizes how vital it is for Israel to keep in its hands military supervision of the Jordan Valley, the border with Egypt and the airport and port in the Gaza Strip, when a real agreement is reached with the PA.
The Israeli public will be shocked to discover how the previous government of Barak and Ben-Ami turned a blind eye to Arafat's arms smuggling at a time when the pair of them ran after Arafat until the very last minute in Taba, pleading with him to sign an agreement in which he would receive east Jerusalem, most of the West Bank and the dunes of Halutza. They wanted so desperately to keep him as a partner.
If Arafat had agreed to sign a scrap of paper in return for these concessions, including the Temple Mount, and only afterwards had continued to smuggle the arms like an experienced gangster, the moment would have come when Israel would have been incapable of defending itself. It is already very difficult to fight this terrorist war along the present lines, and in which the courageous settlers represent the forward defense lines, on the hills of Judea and Samaria and in the sand dunes of the Gaza Strip. What would happen to the Jewish state if Arafat, arguably the biggest arms smuggler in the world, were to fight against it from the shrunken borders offered by Barak and Ben-Ami?
The media are already ceaselessly interviewing former Israeli "defense experts," in or out of uniform, who inform the public that "there is no military solution" to the war of murder and terror waged by Arafat while he is brutally murdering helpless babies. Imagine, what they and others like them would say if the current war, or an even worse one, was forced on Israel from the 1967 borders to which Barak dragged the country with such amazing blindness.
In accordance with their well-known methods of action, MK Colette Avital would have rushed to lead a delegation of her colleagues to plead with Arafat, and probably Yossi Sarid (and certainly Yossi Beilin) would have suggested a "diplomatic solution" based on the 1947 Partition Plan. After all, the two Yossis are currently misleading the public by maintaining that the settlements - with those courageous and wonderful settlers - form the obstacle to the cessation of terror.
In fact, Arafat, the international smuggler, lies between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and between security and peace. As long as he remains here, there will not be a single day of peace, neither for Israel nor for his people.
At least Peres, in his role of foreign minister, is trying to minimize the historical damage that Beilin caused to the Jewish state through the political chicanery with which he devised the Oslo accords. This is damage that the security forces are definitely capable of correcting in the offensive that they are waging successfully at sea, in the air and on land.
©2001 - Jerusalem Post