Yasser Arafat should not be given "another chance." He already had too many. The strategy of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority entails the continuous manipulation of "peace talks" through deliberate use of terrorism, most recently through a campaign of "homicide bombings" of unprecedented magnitude.
Each new chance Arafat had since the Oslo Accord in 1993, caused further escalation and worsened the situation for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the region. It is time to recognize that Arafat and his cadre at the Palestinian Authority meet the definition of terrorists as used by President Bush
Hundreds of murdered Israelis, an unbroken record of deceit, incitement, corruption, and human-rights violations, are the reasons why Arafat shouldn't be given "another chance."
Arafat's words depend on language, context, and intention, and can mean something entirely different or nothing at all. For example, Arafat publicly claimed that the Al Aqsa Intifada was a popular uprising. But on May 28, Mazen Izz Al Din, the chief of the Palestinian Security Forces' political-indoctrination department, told Palestinian National Television that the uprising was in fact anything but. "We have to be truthful and honest and spell it out," Mazen said. "One day history will expose the fact that the whole Intifada and its instructions came from Brother Commander Yasser Arafat."
Arafat has created terror both at home and abroad instead of creating a viable, prosperous state.
More egregiously still, Mazen's statement was made at a rally in Gaza honoring the homicide bombers of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a group directly linked to the Tanzim, the armed wing of Arafat's Fatah movement.
The real reason behind the Intifada, however, can be found in the almost-daily demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza against Arafat and the PA's corruption. Quite simply, igniting another Intifada enabled Arafat to redefine the economic decline in the territories as "sacrifices" necessary in mobilizing against the "Zionist enemy." Instead of fulfilling his promises to better the welfare of the Palestinian people through the creation of a viable, prosperous state, Arafat has created terror both at home and abroad.
The documents recently captured by the IDF at Arafat's compound in Ramalla, provided a wealth of clear evidence that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority's apparatus are involved in the systematic, institutionalized and ongoing financing of the Tanzim and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Each month Arafat, through the PA Finance Ministry, disburses large sums of money that go to fund the infrastructure and activities of terrorists.
When Arafat returned to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in May 1994 as head of the newly established Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian economy in the territories was on the mend. Surveys by the research center of the Israeli Yad Tabenkin, found per capita GDP before the Oslo accord in 1993 to be approximately $3,500 in the West Bank and $2,800 in Gaza. After years of rule by Arafat and the PLO, however, the Palestinian economy is in shambles. According to the international monitoring institutions, the unemployment rate that before the Intifada was about 10 percent, is now about 40%. And the per capita income went from around $1,500 - $2,000, down to about $1,000 today.
Arafat's announcements of reforms in the PA, are nothing more than a PR campaign.
Arafat's announcements of reforms in the PA, are nothing more than a PR campaign. For as long as Arafat controls the Palestinian Authority's funds, and his current, corrupt leadership remains in power, no real reform is possible.
Arafat's so-called "reforms" are aimed at rebuilding the PLO/PA's terror apparatus and creating a coalition between elements of his Fatah party (the Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade) and the Palestinian Islamist opposition led by Hamas. All are identified as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department. The new partnership that will emerge should Arafat be successful is a long-term political coalition with dangerous implications for both Israel and the U.S.
When U.S. envoys William Burns and George Tenet were sent to oversee Palestinian "reform" efforts that Arafat was forced to declare, and restart talks between the PA and Israel, the Official Palestine News Agency, WAFA, had this to say (June 2):
Reorganizing our Palestinian affairs is our own free choice, which no one has the right or the permission to intervene or set terms and conditions. The world should realize that these reforms were a result of a self decision led by President Arafat ...not according to foreign demands, Israeli or USA, who behave as a vector imposing terms. The Israeli and the USA target is to stall for time to establish new status quos in the Occupied Lands, and our target is to bond our forces to be able to finish the Israeli occupation which is supported and backed by the USA.
The Bush administration and the U.S. Congress need to recognize that the Palestinian leadership's verbal attacks on the United States are not just "propaganda" for internal consumption.
On August 30, 2001, only days before the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam relayed the following message: "The Palestinians must harm American interests in the Arab world, with all possible means, in all places, at all levels, because the U.S. does not understand the language of logic and wisdom, but only the language of interests and force."
On September 11, the day the WTC and the Pentagon were attacked, the Palestinian Authority's official daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida, lauded suicide bombings, declaring that: "the suicide bombers of today, are the noble successors of their noble predecessors -- the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson (in Lebanon). These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history. They are the most honorable (people) among us." Pictures of Palestinians celebrating following the WTC and Pentagon attacks were carried by CNN and seen all over the world.
Two weeks ago, while visiting Israel, I watched with dismay as Palestinian National Television broadcast programs where Palestinian religious leaders and members of the Palestinian Authority praised suicide bombers and called for more volunteers to continue their war on Israel. Several programs ended with footage showing the lynching of alleged Palestinian collaborators with Israel -- gruesome pictures showing human beings being tortured, stabbed, shot, and dismembered in public, while 5- and 10-year-old children cheered. These are the terrorists of tomorrow, being trained today.
Back in January, Arafat declared in an op-ed in the New York Times that he opposes the killing of innocent civilians. Since then, with his approval and funding, the Intifada has steadily escalated. Every week sees at least two to three suicide bombings in Israel, with additional attacks on civilians in between.
The failure of the "peace process" thus far, and the compromises the United States has made to maintain momentum on the road to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, has only added to the perception within the Palestinian Authority of America as naive and vulnerable.
Addressing the graduates at West Point, President Bush said:
Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it.
The United States must match these words with actions to demonstrate -- forcefully and unequivocally -- that Arafat and his corrupt regime are part of the problem, not part of the solution, in our war on terrorism. This evil and lawless regime should be confronted with actions -- not just words.