- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

When Israeli leader Ehud Barak called a time-out from the current peace track with the Palestinians Sunday, he was not waging war on Arabs, nor was he saying "no" to peace. He was finally acknowledging the danger of continuing down a track that would only bring more bloodshed. For this, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat kindly told him to "go to hell."

Mr. Barak's move comes after repeated attempts to compromise with the Palestinians under the statutes of the Oslo accord, with little if any collateral from the Palestinians. At Camp David this summer, Mr. Barak offered the Palestinians 95 percent of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip, and the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem as well as full functional autonomy over the Temple Mount. As thanks, Mr. Arafat left the negotiating table. After the emergency summit meeting of the two leaders in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, Mr. Barak reopened the Gaza Airport and lifted a siege on Palestinian cities. Extremist Islamic groups like the Tanzim and Hamas responded by continuing to attack the Israelis.

With no reason to trust left, the Israelis were asked this weekend to subscribe to the Arab states' version of peace, a plan that demands Israel sacrifice its security and give up the soul of its state, Jerusalem:

• "The return of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty." Here the Arabs are asking the Israelis to rewrite history, as Palestinians have never had full sovereignty over Jerusalem.

• "Granting the Palestinians legitimate rights including the founding of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital." Jerusalem was first the capital for Eretz Israel, the kingdom of the exiled Hebrew people, in 1000 B.C. To give up the city with its religious and historical significance would mean sacrificing their state.

• Claiming "responsibility for returning the region back to an atmosphere of tension and violence …" Here again the Arabs have rewritten history, ignoring the attacks of their own extremist Islamic groups and statements made by the Arab leaders to incite violence against Israelis.

This gave Mr. Barak no option but to pull back from the current track. On the ground, this has meant the closing of the Gaza Airport, a blockade of a Palestinian town from which Palestinian gunmen have been shooting Israelis, and freezing negotiations indefinitely.

To subscribe to the terms of the Arab pact would entail Israel abandoning both its own right to statehood and the peace process. Thankfully, Israel is choosing to do neither.



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