- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

More than three centuries ago, April 20, 1653, to be exact, Oliver Cromwell, who overthrew the British monarchy, marched into Westminster and told Parliament: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Almost three centuries later, Cromwell’s words were addressed by the Conservative politician Leo Amery in a speech on May 7, 1940, to the government of Neville Chamberlain, who stepped down three days later in favor of Winston Churchill’s World War II coalition government.

So now it is time to address these same Cromwelllian words, as many Palestinians are saying, to the ignoble Yasser Arafat: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Arafat won’t go even though he has lost the constituency he presumably represents. Mr. Arafat is today a dictator with limited power, an obstacle to peace and most of all, a financial manipulator whose legerdemain has allowed him to accumulate a Swiss bank-deposit fortune estimated to be in the billions. But he still believes as he told Oriana Fallaci in an interview 30 years ago:

“The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediators. … We don’t want peace. We want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.” (The Washington Post, Nov. 10, 1974.)

Mr. Arafat could also have added the United States to his targets of destruction since his newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, said about September 11:

“The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of … the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson in [Beirut]. These suicide bombers are the salt of the Earth, the engines of history. … They are the most honorable among us.”

The European Union with its anti-Israel slant has involved itself in the Middle East. Isn’t it time, then, for France, Germany and Italy, as the leading EU powers, to tell Mr. Arafat it’s time to go? Hanan Ashrawi, veteran Palestinian legislator, has called on Mr. Arafat to end his “one-man show.”

Ms. Ashrawi, a leading Palestinian Christian, said in an interview in a Swiss newspaper: “We should put this one-man-show behind us. Instead of talking about [individual] people, we should at last be talking about institutions and laws.”

Ibrahim Hamami, a Palestinian writer living in London, has joined the chorus of Arafat critics in a vitriolic attack on the PA chairman, according to the Jerusalem Post. In an open letter to Mr. Arafat published on the Palestinian Web site Falasteen, Mr. Hamami urged Mr. Arafat to pack his bags and leave together with all his “corrupt cronies.” Mr. Hamami said Mr. Arafat’s “disastrous” policies have led the Palestinians from one catastrophe to another. “Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed in Lebanon and Jordan and now in Palestine because of your systematic corruption ever since you came to power in 1968,” he said, addressing Mr. Arafat.

In November, the London Telegraph and “60 Minutes” revealed that more than $300 million of Palestinian Authority funds were diverted by Yasser Arafat into a previously undisclosed Swiss bank account and the money could no longer be traced. The missing Palestinian funds were held in Switzerland in an account set up in the name of a British Virgin Islands company. The account has since been closed.

The International Monetary Fund in September 2003 revealed that from 1995 to 2000, Mr. Arafat had diverted more than $1 billion of Palestinian Authority funds. This is grand larceny, a crime committed by Mr. Arafat and not a word of complaint is heard from the European Union, which is busy hounding Israel for building a protective wall.

A BBC documentary claims the Palestinian Authority is paying members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed militia responsible for carrying out suicide attacks against Israelis, up to $50,000 a month.

But the question that cannot be answered is this: Were Mr. Arafat to leave the scene, dead or alive, would it make any difference to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist brigades? Terrorist attempts against Israel, I believe, would certainly continue except the Israeli-constructed wall and fence might keep these assaults to a minimum.

One thing Mr. Arafat knows for sure: Were he to leave the scene and join his wife and daughter in Paris to live on his ill-gotten gains, he would be Assassination Target No. 1 of his fellow Arabs. Forever.

And oh yes. Today is Mr. Arafat’s 75th birthday. Happy birthday, dear Yasser.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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