- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

When will the Palestinians be satisfied? They boasted of victory Saturday as they demolished the Jewish holy site known as Joseph's Tomb, the burial grounds of the son of the biblical patriarch, Jacob, and one of the earliest settlements in the Jewish Promised Land. They celebrated as they trampled on Hebrew religious scripts, and to a Jewish scholar defending the site, they had a message: never return. Hillel Lieberman, reportedly a cousin of the U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate, was brutally beaten and killed. The response was quite a thank-you from the Palestinians who had smirked as Israel evacuated the area, called Nablus, or Shechem, hours earlier.

Israel had also allowed the Palestinians to take control the previous day of the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem's Old City, the site of the Jewish Second Temple. The Palestinians celebrated that action by raining stones on Israeli police from the sanctuary during afternoon prayers. Prime Minister Ehud Barak had seen the same response on a larger scale when he ordered the withdrawal of Israel's army from Lebanon in May and the Syrian-backed Hezbollah guerillas responded with violence. The Palestinians have shown time and again how they will respect Jewish religion and life should they continue receiving Israeli concessions. The United States and Israeli Mr. Barak should take note, and refuse to bow to Palestinian terrorist tactics.

It seems the Clinton administration does not have the courage to do so. In the face of all this, the United States refused to veto a U.N. resolution which condemned Israel for "excessive use of violence." Despite a promise to Mr. Barak to veto the resolution, Mr. Clinton instead ordered American ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke to abstain from voting Saturday "on the grounds that this was in the best interests of the United States and Israel."

Two days later, the death count stands at almost 100, and the violence has moved from the West Bank and Gaza City in the south to the Lebanon border in Israel's north. Though Mr. Barak had threatened military action if the Palestinians did not stop the violence by last night, there was no sign of the Palestinians' letting up. As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rallies the Arab nations including Iraq for a summit to discuss the peace process, Mr. Clinton was unable to arrange a peace summit.

The United States must not undo the partnership it has worked generations to forge with the lone democratic state in a neighborhood of Middle Eastern dictatorships and monarchies. The Clinton administration's silence in the face of the Palestinian determination to continue violence against Israel is a betrayal of its longtime ally. It is time Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian destroyers knew the world has had quite enough.

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