THE PRE-PLANNED Arab explosion attributed by the entire world to Israel's opening of an exit to an ancient Jewish tunnel in Jerusalem revealed for anyone who was willing to see just what little value Yasser Arafat and his supporters attach to peace. (It also vindicated those who warned a Palestinian police force would comprise a fifth column in the heart of the Jewish state.)

Three years ago, Arafat was down and nearly out. His PLO was "allegedly" bankrupt, his popularity at an all time low; he'd lost an effective Soviet sponsor and had earned (brief) Western disfavour for championing Saddam Hussein. It has been Arafat's most hated enemy that has helped him to recover and travel an enormous distance along the road towards his life-long goal.

Israel ratified the world's bestowing of the mantle of statesman on this terrorist leader, gave him land, lots of it, dollars by the million, guns by the thousand and freedom for hundreds of prisoners. Israel's previous government even promised Arafat a state and part of Jerusalem as his capital.

Every step of the way, Israel allowed Arafat to get away with incitement to murder, to praise mass murderers, and to shelter and protect the killers of Jews.

And, after gaining all of this, one small tunnel opens - without affecting anything on the ground in Jerusalem - and Arafat is prepared to throw it all away?

Of course, there is more to it than that.

The terror chief knows full well that violence against Jews and against Israel pays. Everything he has achieved - the indelible imprinting on the world's mind of the belief that the Palestinian Arabs have national rights; that the Israelis are land-grabbing warmongers and racist abusers of human rights; his successful winning of global support for the "Palestinian cause" - is due to his masterful playing of the violence card.

Arafat had little doubt that the world community would step in and pressure Israel into returning to the table. It did. And although Israel presented proof that Arafat had planned and instigated the riots, not one member of the UN had the courage criticise Arafat, let alone to lay the blame at the Arab door.

EVEN as the states bordering on Israel are preparing for war, Arafat is preparing for the next round of his internal fight.

On October 1, the PLO leader told the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz: "We will clarify to Netanyahu that despite his efforts to have us fulfil all of our obligations, we will not hesitate to tear up those same agreements and throw them in their faces in response to their aggression."

On October 8, he told the Palestinian Council: "We are ready for a confrontation along the entire area from Rafiah [Gaza] to Jenin [the northernmost town in Judea-Samaria]. I know that my words are being broadcast live, and I say in the clearest manner, we are not afraid."

The following day an Egyptian newspaper quoted Arafat as saying: "I will not be able to prevent another intifada... The explosion between Israel and the Palestinian autonomy is approaching."

But despite the glaring evidence of his aggression, the global climate is ripe for another round of Israel-bashing. From Washington to Sydney, London to Beijing, the media coverage given Arafat has ensured that "hard-line" Israel will be roundly blamed for the next clashes - and for the next war.

"We have succeeded," Arafat told his Palestinian Council on October 10, at its first meeting after the violence, "in uniting the world against the Netanyahu government"

After decades of intensive pro-Arab bias in the press and Western corridors of power, that didn't take much doing.



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