Since Yom Kippur in 1973, Israel has not experienced a violent Arab attack so laced with savage contempt for our people and our heritage as we experienced on Pesach Eve this year.

The message Palestinian terrorists are sending us is crystal clear: We will murder you at every opportunity, in every place, at any time -- even on the holiest of your days.

An unremitting carnage that indiscriminately slaughters all who come within the murderous reach of Palestinian terrorists shows the depths of their hatred. Clearly, the only constraint for Arab terrorists is their destructive capability. Given the power, they would destroy all of us, down to the last infant.

The primary objective of Arafat's terrorist regime is not to establish the twenty-second Arab state, but to destroy the only Jewish state. This was and is the heart of the conflict.

In 1948, the Arabs rejected an international resolution that would have established an Arab state, and instead attempted to destroy an embryonic Jewish state. Fifty-two years later, Arafat rejected a similar offer and demanded the flooding of Israel with millions of Palestinians, which would effectively bring about the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

With such a regime, whose ultimate objective is our destruction and which pursues this objective by the most barbaric means imaginable, there is no place for negotiations and no hope for reaching any sustainable peace agreement.

Indeed, the much-vaunted political solution to end the conflict was in fact attempted two years ago at Camp David, and it utterly failed.

Arafat rejected a scandalously far-reaching Israeli offer of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, which included half of Jerusalem, and instead chose to unleash this war of terror against Israel.

There is only one option that is now available to Israel: to decisively win the war that has been forced upon us.

There is only one option that is now available to Israel: to decisively win the war that has been forced upon us. What is required of us today is not a willingness to clench our teeth and bear this ongoing violence. We must instead seek a total military victory against an implacable enemy.

First, we must immediately dismantle the Palestinian Authority and expel Arafat. Second, we must encircle the main Palestinian population centers, purge them of terrorists, and eradicate the terrorist infrastructure. Third, we must establish security separation lines that will allow Israeli armed forces to enter Palestinian territory, but prevent Palestinian terrorists from entering our towns and cities.

The choice we face today is not between military victory and a security separation. Only by combining the two can we stop the terror, restore a deterrence that has been dangerously eroded in the last two years, and enable a realistic and moderate leadership to emerge among the Palestinians with which we can pursue a political settlement in the future.

Like a partial dose of antibiotics that is not sufficient to cure the disease, the partial actions of the government and the fitful changes between a policy of restraint and half-hearted military action has not and will not achieve anything. Our excessive concern about the international community has also borne bitter fruit. Israel's refusal so far to act as would any other self-respecting nation heightens the doubts in the minds of our friends of our belief in the justice of our cause and encourages our enemies to increase the bloodshed.

The only way to win international understanding for our position, especially in America, is to steadfastly assert our basic right to defend ourselves and achieve a quick and decisive military victory.

Finally, the claim that we have tried all military means to end the terror is baseless. We have not even used a fraction of our military power, and the little we have used has not been directed at the right target, namely Arafat's regime.

What is absolutely clear is that we cannot continue, even for one more day, on a path of indecision, without a goal or a policy. We must do what any nation in our position would do: fight the war that has been forced upon us and vanquish an enemy who is determined to annihilate us.

The writer is a former prime minister of Israel.