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Arafat Must Go

Arafat Must Go

How many moments of truth does a liar get?

by

"Chairman Arafat must... choose, once and for all, the option of peace over violence," testified Secretary of State Colin Powell before Congress on February 5. If you had a dollar for every time an American official, from the President on down, has said this during the last eight years, you could fund the Pentagon.

A few days earlier Powell had called this "a moment of truth for Chairman Arafat." Was not the moment of truth supposed to be September 13, 1993, when Yasser Arafat shook hands with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn and solemnly committed the PLO to peace?

Yet after the bloodiest Palestinian violence in half a century, in the midst of Arafat's now 16-month campaign of calculated terror, here we are again, importuning him to promise peace just one more time.

This is Lucy and the football. How many moments of truth does a liar get?

Arafat has no intention of making peace.

Arafat has no intention of making peace. He may be talking truce now, but only because he is desperate. With the latest wave of terror in Israel, followed by the interception of the Karine A carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestinian Authority, he sits in Ramallah, isolated, surrounded and friendless.

So he starts talking peace, precisely as he did in 1993 when, after he backed Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, he sat in Tunis isolated, friendless and penniless (Kuwait expelled its Palestinians; Saudi Arabia totally cut Arafat off). Arafat's expressions of peace were phony then. They are phony now. Everyone knows that as soon as he is back on his feet, he will be back again at war.

But for the United States, the issue is more than just the current violence. It is one thing to tolerate a man who American negotiators privately call a liar and a terrorist, so long as the consequence of his lying and his terrorism is simply local violence in a faraway place -- a serious problem for the US, but not a strategic threat.

The Karine A, however, demonstrated that the PA had developed a military relationship with Iran, the country the State Department calls the single worst source of terrorism in the world. Hence, the awful outcome of the Oslo "peace process" finally becomes clear: not peace, not a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel, but an Iranian client-state -- a new member of the "axis of evil," well-armed, terrorist and violently anti-American -- planted in the heart of the Middle East, destabilizing not just Israel but Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. That the United States cannot tolerate.

The Bush Administration has responded to this strategic threat by freezing out Arafat. But it is reluctant to cut him off completely. He is the devil they know. They are afraid that what follows will be worse.

For an administration that has courageously broken new ground in confronting strategic threats in the region, this is a rare lapse into passivity and complacency.

This is a decisive moment. America's demonstration of strength in Afghanistan has changed the entire psychology of the Near East. Leaders everywhere are lining up with the Americans, having witnessed the cost of being on the wrong side of history.

Not Arafat, however. He remains incorrigible. (His personal letter to U.S. President George W. Bush claiming no knowledge of the Karine A was beyond embarrassment. It was insulting.) What happens if Arafat goes? There are two likely outcomes. First, the mantle of leadership passes to some of his commanders and associates, such as Mohammed Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, Abu Ala and Abu Mazen. Whether out of inclination or out of realistic reading of the power relations in the region, most of these men see the intifada as going nowhere. They may be willing to end it.

Alternatively, after Arafat there may be no national leadership. After all, the Palestinian Authority is an alien exile entity superimposed upon the West Bank and Gaza in 1993. It turned out to be corrupt, oppressive, economically ruinous and congenitally violent. Arafat leaves behind no lasting national institutions except for his myriad security forces. These forces, and the strongmen who control these private and separate armies, could well inherit the kingdom.

In this alternative scenario, the Palestinian policy fractures. There will be strongmen running different areas, Dahlan running Gaza, Rajoub running parts of the West Bank. Other towns will have their rulers. Each will have to make his deal, his arrangement, his peace, with Israel.

That will be the interim. And that interim will end when the Palestinians decide to produce new national leadership ready to make real peace, At which point, Israel (and the United States) will welcome a true peace partner.

But none of this can begin to happen until Arafat is gone.

 

Published: February 16, 2002


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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Anonymous, March 1, 2002 12:00 AM

Article was great!

You were "right on" as we say over here in America.

(6) Don Huff, February 24, 2002 12:00 AM

Time to Chose!

As an American I feel that it is time for the United States to quit "riding the fence." Our commitments have been more political than moral in the middle east. Oil has always been a big factor. It is time for the U.S. to wake up and see who the enemy really is. President Bush calls Islam a great and peaceful religion. DAH!!! Islam is committed to world conquest, the total destruction of Jews and Christians (read the koran-its there), and practices the most uncivilized attitudes of intolerance in all of history. We as Americans need to totally unite and make our commitment to Israel not with holding. I wish Americans were not so damn greedy and selfish --- we might be able to actually focus on what is reality and what is moral. Mr Netanyahu said it very good after 9-11, " If America's attitude does not change, that is the lack of desire and commitment to win, then terrorism will not be defeated. All I can say to Israel is don't back down and don't become weary. Fight the good fight!

(5) Anonymous, February 24, 2002 12:00 AM

Keep strong

I pray for your country and ask a blessing on you. Israel, You have a right to your own land and as far as I am concerned the Palestinians need a homeland in an Arab country, as they have so many Arab countries to choose from and the country of Israel needs it own land without this threat of constant attack. Israel belongs to the Jewish people. love, M

(4) SAM SARIA, February 21, 2002 12:00 AM

IT IS TIME FOR PEACE,THE ONLY WINNERS ARE THE FANATICS AND THE BLOOD SUCKERS
WHO LIKE TO SEE, THE TWO PEOPLE FIGHT
FOR EVER.EVERY BODY DESERVE TO LIVE WITH
DIGNITY AND HIS RIGHT SHOULD BE PROTECTED,NO MATTER WHO HE IS.I ENJOYED
READING YOUR NEWS PAPER EVEN THOUGH IAM
AMERICAN PALESTENIAN.KEEP THE GOOD WORK.NOT ALL PALESTENIANS ARE BAD,THE SAME GOES FOR THE ISRAELIS.THANKS
DIGNITY



(3) Anonymous, February 19, 2002 12:00 AM

Habitual Liars

YOU SURE ARE RIGHT!
Some people don't know what truth
really is.
Maybe someone should ask Bill Clinton

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