Israel Report

July 2001         

Starting Over in Mideast

By Joseph Farah
July 23, 2001

WASHINGTON – Yasser Arafat is through in the Middle East.

I know you haven’t heard this bulletin broadcast yet in the international media, but it’s true.

He’s political "toast," as we say here in the United States. There’s simply nowhere for him to go. He’s lost his wiggle room and his credibility as a "peacemaker." His days are numbered.

This is something Israelis need to understand. It’s easier, perhaps, for those of us living a comfortable distance from the car bombs and the shootings and daily terror to see it so clearly.

Arafat has to go. And he will – if Israelis play their political cards right in the days ahead.

What do I mean?

I am seeing a much broader consensus among Israelis and Americans that Arafat is and always was a phony. He’s been exposed as a two-faced and unrepentant murderer whose only goal in life is the destruction of Israel and his own empowerment.

His own intifada has exposed him. Offered nearly everything he had ever demanded at the negotiating table, he turned his back on Israeli doves and made fools of them. Clearly, he never sincerely renounced terrorism. More likely it was "tourism" he was renouncing years ago, not "terrorism."

Between the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles in 1993 and September 2000, 256 Israelis were killed in terrorist violence – more than in the seven years before the declaration. Since September of last year, some 114 more have been killed and hundreds wounded – including two boys who skipped school, two boys waiting for a school bus, 20 kids at a disco, two women driving in a funeral procession, another driving to a wedding, cousins eating in a restaurant, shoppers in a mall, a baby picked off by a sniper and two parents killed in front of their six children.

Enough is enough. Israelis recognize it, and, increasingly, Americans realize it.

Thus, the Israelis have an opportunity to ditch this alleged "partner for peace" once and for all – and they ought to do so. Better to start over and deal with the devil they don’t know than the devil they do know. They’ve got nothing to lose.

That’s why, for the first time in years, Israeli military planners are actively considering a military invasion of the territories the Jewish state conceded unwisely to Arafat for only the vaguest promise of peace.

Now the unthinkable is being thought: Plans are being prepared for a military invasion of Judea, Samaria and Gaza in an effort to crush the Palestinian Authority and the illegitimate rule of Arafat, once and for all.

It’s no longer out of the question. In fact, the alternatives to such a plan, now or later, are limited as Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has explained: "There are three options: surrender to Arafat, to go ahead with this plan – to occupy – or to continue the current course of restraint and self-defense. The government has said it’s committed to peace, but this situation can’t last forever."

Typically, Israeli officials don’t make such pronouncements about fateful plans without discussing them in advance with their friends in Washington. Which means Sharon must be reasonably confident that President Bush is not going to be outraged by the execution of such a plan.

And that’s why I say Arafat is done, history, kaput.

Israeli officials would never have received a green light from Washington in the previous administration. But the appropriate role for the U.S. government is to say it will support whatever measures the elected government decides best protect the lives and security for the long term.

Am I advocating invasion as Israel’s best or only course of action? Hardly. I will not be presumptuous enough to tell Israelis how to defend themselves. But I will say this unequivocally: It’s time for Arafat to go. And Israel should not miss an opportunity to dump him.

The end of Arafat’s doubletalk might just be the silver lining beneath the dark cloud of terrorist violence that has wracked Israel like labor pains for the last nine months.

Joseph Farah is editor and chief executive officer of and writes a daily column.

©2001 -

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