- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2000

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told world leaders the day before his Palestinian counterpart met with President Clinton this week that he would accept a Palestinian state if it were created through peaceful means. As if it hadn't been enough for the Israeli leader to reopen the Gaza airport, to demand a halt to the siege on Palestinian cities and to call for an end to violence immediately after the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement last month, Mr. Barak offered this further olive branch to the Palestinian leader. All this, to no avail.
Mr. Arafat came to Washington Thursday still insisting that Israel bore all of the blame for the violence. Rather than working to quell the conflict at home, he was asking for President Clinton's approval for international intervention to bear that burden. The president, to his credit, was unimpressed. In an icy gesture toward his former Palestinian pal, Mr. Clinton did not shake his hand or look him in the eyes in the initial Oval Office photo ceremony. Madeleine Albright read a book. Their "peace partner" had failed them, and was now parading to the White House with no peace to offer, and plenty to ask for instead. Mr. Clinton aptly didn't promise anything, and reaffirmed the support of the United States for Israel.
The United Nations which Mr. Arafat is calling on to send peacekeeping troops to the region should respond the same way. But the international body is already predisposed to enforce its understanding of a U.N. resolution which would require Israel to pull back from territory it has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
While Mr. Arafat was in New York petitioning the U.N. Security Council to establish a 2,000-strong protection force to guard his people Friday, his countrymen had declared a "day of rage" on Israelis at home. The day of rage, one of many in the last two months of violence in the region, was declared in response to the killing of a leader of Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction by Israeli helicopter gunships. This attack was in return for the killing of three Israeli soldiers last week. Violence would not breed violence, however, if Mr. Arafat would accept the peace gestures Mr. Barak has offered and the Palestinian leadership would enforce the cease-fire agreed upon at the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting in Egypt.
Unlike his Palestinian counterpart, Mr. Barak comes to Washington today to ensure that an end of violence is carried out. He will also likely confirm to Mr. Clinton earlier statements that Israel would not support a U.N. force stationed on the West Bank and Gaza between Israeli and Palestinian forces. The United States should continue to support him in this.
Only when Mr. Arafat also realizes that peacekeeping starts at home will the Israelis and Palestinians be able to work toward a society not crippled by violence. With the training of every rock-throwing child, with every approved day of rage, with every hand-holding of Palestinian extremists, Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian leadership mock that goal.

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