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Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2002/ Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5762

Don Feder

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Does Sharon just not "get it"?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may profess to see a Palestinian state at the end of the terrorism tunnel. But the last prime minister from his Likud Party and one of the party's rising stars see disaster in such a development.

In a meeting with President Bush last week, Sharon reiterated his government's commitment to the "peace process'' - to be resumed just as soon as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stops turning Israeli civilians into corpses. At the conclusion of negotiations "we'll see a Palestinian state,'' Sharon predicted.

Yuval Steinitz, a Likud member of Israel's parliament, sees it somewhat differently. Not constrained by diplomacy, Steinitz is calling on his country and the world to think about how, terrorism aside, a Palestinian state would put the Jewish state in mortal danger.

Steinitz has come full circle. In the 1980s, while then-Defense Minister Sharon was prosecuting Israel's war in Lebanon, Steinitz, then a college student, protested the war.

Today, the politician with a doctorate in philosophy understands that peace for Israel won't come from any process, but only through an uncompromising commitment to its security. Such a commitment cannot be reconciled with Palestinian statehood.

Israel's friends have been calling the Karine A - Arafat's adventure in arms smuggling - a "terror ship.'' Steinitz says it's a "war ship.''

The Karine A's manifest included Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles, long-range mortars, mines, rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles. These aren't tools of terror but instruments of war.

"With such large quantities of Katyushas and mortars, the Palestinians could constitute light artillery batteries,'' Steinitz notes. "They'll have the ability to put Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, military and civilian airports, and industrial plants under attack.''

In the all-out war Arafat is determined to provoke - allied with the Middle East branch of the Axis of Evil - Palestinian units could infiltrate Israel proper within hours.

"From those positions,'' Steinitz warns, "they could wholly subvert the 24-hour mobilization strategy Israel relies on to fend off the far larger armies of its Arab adversaries.''

The man Steinitz looks to for inspiration is former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who now has higher poll ratings than Sharon.

Netanyahu explained in an interview that "with a sovereign state'' - he calls it Arafatistan - "you could bring in weapons by the shipload.'' Worse, "Arafat could conclude treaties with states like Iran and Iraq.''

Could? How about will?

"That's why I don't talk in terms of statehood,'' he added. Instead, Netanyahu maintains Palestinians "should have all of the powers to govern themselves, but no power to threaten Israel.'' They would have control of their daily lives, but, "We'll control the air space and points of international passage.''

Such an entity must be demilitarized. Netanyahu notes that his predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, considered demilitarization the most important commitment Arafat made in the 1993 Oslo Accords. (It went the way of all his other guarantees.)

But don't the Palestinians, as the cliche goes, deserve a nation of their own? Not when they've spent the years since Oslo staging periodic pogroms.

Not when their leaders have created a culture of hatred and bloodlust. Anti-Semitic incitement saturates the media, sermons and textbooks of the Palestinian Authority.

Not when, according to a Feb. 2 poll, 69 percent of would-be citizens of Palestine believe a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis is impossible "under any conditions'' and 82 percent condone the murder of 21 Israeli teenagers at a nightclub last June.

Not when a Palestinian state, occupying the high ground of Judea and Samaria, could - in conjunction with other Arab armies - cut Israel in half at its narrow waist with a thrust of 10 miles to the sea.

As the hero used to say to the bad guy in Western movies: "There ain't room enough in this town for the two of us.'' There isn't space enough in the entire Middle East for Israel and Arafatistan, let alone living side by side - in a relationship not remotely approximating peace.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate