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Many years of observation have led me to the following insight: An irrational person makes irrational decisions; a rational person uses rational arguments to explain his irrational decisions. In the debate between former Military Intelligence officers regarding Yasser Arafat's qualifications as a peace partner with Israel (Haaretz, June 11), the latter type of individuals reached the decision that Israel can make peace with the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership.

The basic rationale for their decision is based, in their words (Haaretz, June 13), on "Arafat's intention [...] to reach a two-state solution, according to the long-standing and well-known Palestinian policy as determined by the PLO in 1988." This auspicious intent was based on a reading of a single passage in the PLO's Declaration of Independence, which the Palestinian National Council issued in Algeria, on November 15, 1988: "Despite the historic injustice that has been caused to the Palestinian Arab people in its expulsion and dispersal ["Tashrid"] and the denial of its right to self-determination following Resolution 181 of the [United Nations] General Assembly in 1947, which partitioned Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, it is this resolution that still provides those conditions of international legitimacy that guarantee the right of the Arab Palestinian people to sovereignty and national independence." Indeed, the leadership of the PLO continues to stand by this document with its convoluted wording. However, the realistic interpretation of that passage, as has already been proposed by the former adviser to the prime minister on terrorism, Yigal Carmon, runs completely counter to the optimistic one that penetrated Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet by way of academe.

The partition of Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, appears here as a seemingly straightforward description of Resolution 181, but its significance is portrayed in this passage as a terrible historic injustice. This is the implication that counts and it has not changed since the drafting of the Palestinian Covenant. Although the PLO declared in those lines that it intended to exploit Resolution 181 due to the diplomatic advantages it offers, an injustice still demands rectification. Consequently, the PLO has acted, in phases, to correct the injustice caused by Resolution 181 in its allocation of part of Palestine for a Jewish state. This basic assumption leaves no room for peace under any conditions between the authors of this document and the Jewish state. It does not even allow for the possibility of negotiations, in the accepted meaning of this term, between Israel and the PLO, as foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami learned to his chagrin in late 2000.

The difference between the two approaches becomes even clearer if we take note of the fact that talks between Israel and the PLO have been conducted by experienced attorneys: Yoel Singer for Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Molcho for Benjamin Netanyahu, Gilad Sher for Ehud Barak and Dov Weisglass for Ariel Sharon. However, not a single attorney conducted "negotiations" with Israel on behalf of the PLO, because as far as the PLO is concerned, there is no deal here that "only needs wrapping up." For them, it is a matter of absolute justice. Nevertheless, these are merely words and how can we know? If only Barak had not amicably nudged Arafat into the cabin at Camp David, it might have been the beginning of a wonderful friendship. If only, as the MI officers claim, Israel had agreed to accept 30,000 refugees within its 1949 borders, we would already have four years of peace behind us.

Apparently, very rational people are troubled by the problem of the refrigerator. When they close the door of the refrigerator at home, how can they be sure that the light has really gone out? The assumption that the refrigerator is properly constructed does not satisfy them. The uncertainty tortures them. They don't know. They have to have proof. They always demand "yet another experiment."

In other words, they insist that Israel withdraw to its 1949 armistice lines and absorb tens of thousands of Arab refugees to test by means of a full-scale experiment if the PLO really plans to adhere to its Covenant and "Declaration of Independence," and plans to continue under those circumstances to rectify the injustice caused to it by UN Resolution 181. The semi-industrial experiment conducted here since 1993 and its lethal results do not satisfy them. They need to know, really know. This idea has a rationale of its own, but to put it politely for the sake of these officers, it is a little silly.