- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Camp David II clearly demonstrated that Yasser Arafat is the ultimate rejectionist, that he is not ready for peace, that he will use all of his diplomatic tricks and terrorist threats to win complete domination of East Jerusalem and the holy Islamic and Christian places.

This is despite an illusion that is re-emerging in President Clinton's circle that Camp David II can be restored, and that the end of the extra mile can be reached. There is no explanation of what the extra mile is. After all, it could have already taken place at Camp David II if it was a serious compromise on Jerusalem. But Mr. Arafat read the situation correctly as advantageous to his new strategy of making himself "Mr. Jerusalem," defying the United States, and now engaging in an anti-American crusade.

Immediately after the collapse of Camp David II, Mr. Arafat started his not-so-subtle anti-American initiative, traveling throughout the Islamic and European states. Bill Clinton has been the most accommodating U.S. president to the Palestinians. It was Bill Clinton's compromise idea that Mr. Arafat rejected, and now this chicanerous man is repaying his "friend" in Washington with this clearly anti-American crusade. The essence of this crusade is that Mr. Arafat will make no compromises on Jerusalem where he considers himself to be custodian of the holy places, and that he will declare at his will an independent Palestine state. Guess where Mr. Arafat's jihad began in Iran. It is noteworthy that he consorted with the turncoat reformer, the dictator President Khatami of Iran, whose anti-American pronouncements have increased in the last few months. Mr. Arafat had no difficulty convincing the Iranian dictator masquerading as a president to go along with his purposes, and coating the trip with an anti-American flavor that tastes good in Iran.

The next trip was to Mr. Putin's Russia. Mr. Arafat's timing was perfect. He arrived in Moscow during the serious dispute between the United States and Russia over missile defense, and encouraged the Russians to join with the Europeans in defying the United States. Even though the Russian government has good relations with Israel, Mr. Arafat had no difficulty in taking advantage of Mr. Putin's ruffled feathers after the American rejection of his alternative missile defense plan. Next, he went to China and defended the Chinese rejection of the American missile defense system. He made sure to first meet with anti-American Iran and America's rivals Russia and China.

Then Mr. Arafat went to his patron, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who demonstrated enough rejectionism on Jerusalem, during Camp David II and after, to amount to an abandonment of the Egyptian mediation role in Israel-Palestine disputes. No explanation is needed for the anti-American rhetoric Mr. Arafat exchanged with military dictators of the authoritarian Islamic states in South Asia.

The purpose behind Mr. Arafat's current exercise is to accumulate international, Arab, and Islamic political momentum to force the hand of the Americans to go the extra step in persuading Israel's declining government on further concessions, which will certainly bring about new elections in Israel and the postponement of negotiations with the Palestinians. Mr. Arafat is now in a war mood. He has already achieved, since 1993, all the political and economic goals that drew fruit from the Oslo agreement. He now has local government, national government, an army of 40,000 called "police," and 17 security services in the Palestinian Authority. He has not abandoned the uniform he has worn since the 1960s. He has said repeatedly he does not want a peace presented on a silver platter by the Israelis and Americans. He wants to achieve independence by blood and fire.

This crusade is meant to warn the international community, the Arab and Islamic leaders, and above all the American president that if the U.S. does not lean on Israel and end Israeli domination over East Jerusalem, Mr. Arafat is ready for war. This is not a tactic; it is a strategy. What you cannot gain by diplomacy and politics, you try to win by terrorism and warfare.

President Clinton's soothsayers tell him everybody is ready for a second round that there are enough pragmatists among the Palestinians who are tired of politics and ready to accept a Palestine that is recognized by Israel and the United States. The only raison d'etre for this state is Israeli and American recognition. All the motions of the diplomats, bureaucrats and ambassadors to assure the resumption of Camp David II will fail. There is no chance negotiations will resume and squeeze the last drop of Jerusalem out of Mr. Barak with the hope he will survive.

Despite Israeli society's strong desire for peace, this time Mr. Arafat's war will gain public momentum because he is the most hated Arab leader among the majority of Israelis. He is not trusted. Peace cannot be based on the foundation of the next war. The present Barak government can hardly carry an extra burden.



Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

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