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Jewish World Review April 19, 2002/ 8 Iyar, 5762

Richard Z. Chesnoff

Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Road to Mideast Peace
Detours Around Arafat |
If Secretary of State Powell has any lesson to learn from the apparent failure of his Mideast peace mission, it's that Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat has proven - again! - that he is not a viable partner for peace. In fact, he is the main obstacle to peace.

There's only one logical conclusion for Powell and U.S. foreign policy: Arafat must go.

The Palestinian leader's incurable addiction to terrorism is the root cause of the current Mideast bloodbath and the continuation of his own people's suffering. Just as his stubborn refusal to accept Israel's offer of peace and a Palestinian state became his excuse to launch the current intifadeh nearly two years ago, his refusal to order his fanatic followers to end their rash of suicide bombing is what guarantees that bloodletting will continue on both sides.

Truth to tell, just by meeting with Arafat, Powell violated the Bush doctrine, the principled stand that America does not negotiate with terrorists, that America does not appease terrorists, that America is waging a comprehensive war against terrorism and the skewed ideologies that drive it.

Consider this outrageous example of Arafat's talent for two-faced lying: After calling (in English) for an end to terrorism, he greeted Powell's visit with a horrific suicide bombing in Jerusalem, carried out not by one of his Islamic rivals, but by the Arafat-aligned and Arafat- financed Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Then Arafat adds insult to injury by telling Powell he won't end Palestinian terrorism until Israel ends its military response - a response that is fully justified by the terrorism.

"We now know that Arafat has been working hand in glove with the terrorists," says Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank on terrorism. "Surely, Secretary Powell now understands that Arafat is himself an unreformed terrorist whose goal is not a Palestinian state living next to Israel, but a militant Islamist state in place of Israel."

So where do we go from here? It's a tough question. Palestinian claims that Arafat was democratically elected are as phony as Arafat's claims to be a democrat. Nonetheless, he tightly holds the reins of Palestinian power. If we make it clear we won't deal with him - and that if the Palestinians insist on our dealing with him, we won't push their interests - then other Palestinians who really seek peace may come to the fore.

For the moment, the Bush administration should actively follow through on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's call for an international conference along the same broad lines as the Washington- and Moscow-sponsored 1991 Madrid meeting that launched the now moribund Arab- Israeli peace process. But if there's any hope for such a conference to succeed, Arafat's exclusion is a prerequisite.

How do we go about that delicate task? One way to finesse the problem is to hold the conference at the foreign ministers' level. Another is to limit participation to major nations or blocs: the U.S., the Russians, the Europeans, Israel and the Palestinians represented by the Arab League.

Chutzpah was once defined as a man who murders his mother and father, then asks for mercy because he's an orphan. Arafat has given us another shining example. He dispatches terrorists, then cries, "Victim" when the Israeli Army responds forcefully. It's time for Arafat to pack his kaffiyeh and his pistol and go into retirement.

JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History.

Richard Z. Chesnoff Archives

© 2002, N. Y. Daily News