- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

Yasser Arafat has mastered quite a technique for trying to woo the international community to his cause. The Palestinian leader visited New York and Washington last week to cultivate U.S. and U.N. favor for a 2,000-man protection force for his people. But in a mockery of his own petitions on behalf of peace, Mr. Arafat later declared his intentions to continue the holy uprising at a Muslim summit in Qatar. And for the first time in five years, he had Hamas at his side to empower him in waging the next phase of this "holy war." In a time when a voice of moderation is desperately needed, the Palestinian leadership is embracing extremism more openly than ever.

To fully understand the significance of Mr. Arafat's meeting with the senior leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, one must first understand that the terrorist organization has been the leading opposition movement to Mr. Arafat in the Palestinian territories. For Mr. Arafat to now beckon that force to his table as he prepares to continue the armed uprising shows just how far the aging leader is willing to stoop to unravel the peace process.

Rallying anti-Israeli sentiment at the summit, the foreign ministers drafted a resolution which asks for Muslim states to cut ties with Israel and asks the United States to rethink its pro-Israel bias. It also repeated the Arab summit's recommendations to have an international tribunal judge Israeli war criminals.

Arab League chief Esmat Abdel Meguid urged U.N. Human Right Commissioner Mary Robinson to publish the reports of her findings on Israeli human rights violations observed during her visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. She had expressed her "indignation, anger and pain" at what she had seen during her visit, he said. But Mrs. Robinson should be just as careful to examine Palestinian atrocities starting with the children.

Palestinian parents allow their children to serve as shields in the fray between Israeli and Palestinian forces daily. Some are trained in the Tanzim, the armed wing of Mr. Arafat's Fatah. Others are encouraged by the sentiment of their parents or friends to leave playgrounds for battlefields. All are considered martyrs.

There is something deeply wrong when a people encourages its children to pick up stones and machine guns. Mr. Arafat, Nobel Prize winner of days almost forgotten, does not grasp the irony. The international community must stop Mr. Arafat and his extremist colleagues from making martyrs of his own people.

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