President George W. Bush told thousands of members of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky last week: "If you harbor terrorists, you are a terrorist. If you train or arm a terrorist, you are a terrorist. If you feed or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist, and you will be held accountable by the United States and our friends."
He continued: "Afghanistan is just the beginning of the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win."
Can anybody in Israel, after years of battling terrorism, disagree with these words? Is it a secret that Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority harbor, train, and fund terrorists just like the Taliban who harbor Osama bin Laden and his cohorts? And like the U.S., Israel will not be secure until the threat of terrorism is defeated.
And yet our Foreign Minister Shimon Peres refuses to recognize these facts staring him in the face. He winces anytime that Arafat is called a terrorist. He does not miss an opportunity to embrace him and shake hands with him. Rather than fighting this "evil one" he calls on us to negotiate with him.
Ze'ev Schiff in Ha'aretz proposes an apologia for this approach. There is a difference between bin Laden and Arafat he argues, because the U.S. has no intention of negotiating with bin Laden, whereas Israel wants to achieve a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. He misses the point.
The U.S. will not only not negotiate with bin Laden but refused also to negotiate with the Taliban who harbored and protected bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network. It is only after the Taliban have been crushed that the U.S. will establish relations with an Afghan government that will not support terrorists.
Like the U.S. in Afghanistan, Israel should not negotiate with Arafat and the Palestinian Authority that promote and harbor terrorism. In any case, as has been shown without a doubt, no agreement can be achieved with them. As long as terrorists and supporters of terrorism dominate the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza no accommodation with the Palestinians is possible.
The architects of the Oslo agreements, Peres, Yossi Beilin, and company, imposed Arafat and the PLO terrorist network on the Palestinian population, and provided them with arms that in the past thirteen months have been used in terrorist attacks against Israelis. Using the nonsensical slogan that you make peace with your enemies - try selling that to the President of the U.S. - they have foisted the terrorists on the Palestinian population.
It is the irony of fate that these seekers of peace have actually made peace with the Palestinians at this stage impossible. First Palestinian terrorism will have to be crushed. Only then will it become possible to arrive at an agreement.
There are those who argue that this is an impossible mission. Similar skepticism was voiced when the U.S. decided to engage the Taliban. The Soviets became bogged down in Afghanistan just like the British over a hundred years ago it was said. And this is the fate that presumably awaits the Americans. And yet, under the leadership of President Bush, using air power, special forces, and the latest technology, as well as local allies on the ground, the Taliban regime was crushed within weeks.
What special forces and technology can accomplish in the fight against Palestinian terrorism is being demonstrated these very days. A determined effort that will not be undermined by constant talk of an imaginary cease-fire and expressions of desire to negotiate with Arafat will produce results.
Not all Palestinians are terrorists. Support for terrorism among Palestinians will decrease as blows are struck against terrorists and the futility of the use of violence becomes apparent to the Palestinian population. When Arafat and the terrorists he imported from Tunis leave, the stage will be set for the beginning of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Until such time the suffering of the Palestinians is unfortunately likely to continue.
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