In response to what was perceived by the Moslem Arabs as a "provocative act" (the visit by Mr. Sharon to the Temple Mount – a place sacred to both Moslems and Jews), the Palestinian Arabs and the entire Moslem world have erupted in an almost unprecedented orgy of fury and of killing.
What are the facts?
A history of Terror. Since that famous handshake on the White House lawn, there have been many acts of Arab terror against Jews in Israel – suicide bombings of buses and public places – and "spontaneous outbursts" (actually well orchestrated) of popular fury, in which usually scores are killed. The least perceived "provocation" suffices to trigger one of these events. Ever since the signing of the Oslo Accord, more than 300 Israeli Jews have been killed and over 1,000 wounded. Israel is a small country, with only a fiftieth of the population of the United States. To put it in perspective, these 300 killed are equivalent to about 15,000 people being killed in the United States in such criminal attacks. Would the American people stand still for that?
And that is not all. These are the same people who, since the "handshake", have blown up the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, the Jewish Community Center in the same city, and the Israeli Embassy in London. Hundreds of people were killed. There can be no question that they were also behind the Pan Am flight 103 plane explosion which killed 270 people, mostly Americans; that they were responsible for the blowing up of the Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia, in which 19 Air Force personnel died; and in literally hundreds of other acts of terror. All of these terror acts are specifically authorized by Yassir Arafat. That is a man who until not too long ago was classified as an international terrorist by the U.S. State Department, but who has now emerged as a "statesman" of consequence and stature.
Any Pretext Suffices. The basic understanding with Arafat and his Palestinian Arabs, the only reason for dealing with Arafat and his PLO at all, was that terror and mayhem would stop. But that has not happened. On the contrary: More Jews have been killed by terror attacks since the "handshake" than in any comparable period before it. Arafat and the "Palestinian Authority" do nothing to stop this slaughter; on the contrary, they actively encourage their followers to use violence to accomplish their ends. The PLO has not even complied with their promise to amend their infamous Charter, which explicitly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. In blood-curdling speeches, Arafat and his henchmen goad their followers into violence, urging them to "liberate Palestine and Jerusalem" by jihad (holy war). They teach their schoolchildren to hate and demonize the Jews and encourage them to kill, be killed, and become "martyrs" in the cause of liberating "Palestine" (that means all of Israel) by "fire and blood".
Any pretext to violence suffices. Not too long ago, it was the opening of an entrance to an archaeological tunnel that offended the sensitivities of the Palestinian Arabs. Next it was the Israeli Jews constructing residence in the eastern part of Jerusalem on land they own. But most of the murderous attacks have no pretext at all. They are done out of sheer hatred for the Jews and the desire to kill as many of them as possible. And that is the nub of the problem. Only the most naïve can believe that the Palestinian Arabs (or the rest of the Arab/Muslim world) can be placated by the Israelis bringing "sacrifices for peace". The Arabs will not be satisfied with any piece of land. Even if the Israeli Jews were prepared to hand over the entire land of Israel to the Arabs and only retain, perhaps, the enclave of Tel Aviv, it would not suffice. The elimination of any Jewish vestige is the inalterable goal. The presence of Jews in the Middle East is an unacceptable thorn in the side of the Arabs – an insult that must be avenged and eliminated. But, of course, no peace can come about until that attitude and that mindset change. And that might take a long time.
What does this mean for the "peace process"? So far, the Israelis have complied with all their obligations. They have leaned over backwards and, under the leadership of Mr. Barak, have made breathtaking concessions that, not too long ago, would have been unthinkable. They have turned over the Gaza Strip and all major population centers in Judea/Samaria (the "West Bank") to the Palestinian Authority. But all of this should stop immediately. No further negotiations should take place for at least six months. Then, the minimum conditions that Israel should impose on Arafat for any continuation of the process should be:
(1) The rescission of the PLO Charter advocating the destruction of Israel;And, nobody – not the United States, any other countries, or the United Nations – should be the arbiters of this. Only Israel should determine whether its national rights and its security requirements are being honored and fulfilled. Only then, and not before, should it be prepared to continue its negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs.
(2) A full-bore effort on the part of the P.A. to totally stop all terror attacks and to apprehend and turn over to Israeli justice all terrorists now operating under the protection of the P.A.
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