- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2000

The "understanding" between the Palestinians and Israelis reached in Sharm el Sheik under the guidance of Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan and the representative of the European Union is not worth the paper it is written on. The understanding is murky and noncommittal. If it depends on the good will of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, it is of no value at all.
Neither the Palestinian Authority nor Mr. Arafat ordered the disarmament of Mr. Arafat's military group, the Tanzim. Nor have they re-arrested the most violent Islamic terrorists now at large. A Wall Street Journal article on Oct. 19 is headlined: "Arafat's Silence May Mark Him as Spent Force." During the first 24 hours after leaving Sharm el Sheik, the Palestinian Authority violated the understanding reached there, by creating its own version of the understanding, which was immediately rejected by Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
The israeli papers report that Mr. Barak doubts the PA will stick to the Sharm understanding. There was no perceptible decline in violence and Mr. Barak temporarily postponed the deadline another 48 hours. Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Tanzim militias, declared: "I expect the intifida to continue and perhaps even intensify." He proudly announced a hundred years of intifada.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians continued to send their children not their armed police into the streets to attack Israeli soldiers with stones. The Palestinian population and PA-controlled media in the West Bank and Gaza violently attacked the Sharm el Sheik understanding.
Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's strategy was that the Russian Revolution was "The Permanent Revolution." Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization consider the Palestinian Revolution as permanent. That means that until and unless they totally dominate Palestine, weaken and delegitimize Israel, there will be no peace.
Mr. Arafat may be a spent force, but he represents the aspirations and the utopian false dreams of the Palestinians, who hope to oust the foreign entity Israel and Zionism from the area. The means to achieve their goal is called the stages strategy, using a combination of political, diplomatic, military, terrorist and propaganda means to achieve a Palestine State by stages. Oslo was no more than a tactical stage in that strategy to achieve maximum Israeli concessions with no reciprocity.
Since the Palestinians are committed to the continuation of the struggle with Israel, they refuse to call an end of conflict or to other claims such as return of refugees and their compensation, Palestinian sovereignty over the holy places, a capital in East Jerusalem, and other territorial modifications. This is the meaning of the permanent revolution. Even when a Palestine State is proclaimed unilaterally or in a signed treaty with Israel witnessed by the United States, the PA is leaving open the option to continue the war with Israel until a Palestinian-dominated and expanded state is fulfilled.
Mr. Arafat's reasons for rejecting the accommodating Clinton-Barak concessions for peace must be understood as part of the stages strategy. If Mr. Arafat had accepted the Camp David compromise, it would have closed the permanent revolution option.
Unwilling to change his strategy, Mr. Arafat brought upon the fourth catastrophe for the Palestinian people. In 1982, he went to war against King Hussein of Jordan, fomenting a civil war that cost Mr. Arafat more than 20,000 Palestinian casualties and an ouster from Jordan. Between 1979 and 1982, he created a Palestinian-dominated Southern Lebanon staging area for the war against Israel. He was crushed by the Israeli Defense Force and was ousted from Lebanon to Tunis.
This was not enough for Mr. Arafat. In 1991, he supported Saddam Hussein against the United States-European-Arab coalition. The Gulf States punished him by cutting off political and financial support for the Palestinians and isolating Mr. Arafat. An Arab intifada took place in the Palestinian territories without his knowledge, and this generation of Palestinians has been pushed to the margins by Mr. Arafat and his terrorist organization.
The irony is that the person who saved Mr. Arafat from ignominy, defeat and catastrophe, was no less than an Israeli general, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who under the influence of Shimon Peres, Yosi Beilin and some professors, reluctantly accepted Oslo.
Ever since 1993, Mr. Arafat has been violating the principles of Oslo. Rather than dismantling his terrorist organization, he has legitimized it as a heavily equipped army of 40,000, even though a force of 17,000 lightly armed police was stipulated by Oslo. He created 17 security services and established the most corrupt state in the Middle East, notoriously abusing human rights. Palestinians who were former Israeli prisoners and were later arrested by the Palestinian Authority report the Israeli authorities were more tolerant and liberal than Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Even Mr. Arafat's former minister of information, chief propagandist Hanan Ashrawi, resigned while charging that Mr. Arafat violated human rights and democracy.
Mr. Arafat intends to ride in blood and fire into the Arab summit conference in Cairo Oct. 21-22. There he will seek support for Palestinian custodianship over the holy places, which is resented Arab and Muslim leaders who are more significant than Mr. Arafat. After Camp David, he tried unsuccessfully to get support for his cause. Now, after the violence in the West Bank and Gaza fomented by Mr. Arafat, and demonstrations of support by Arab states, even moderate ones, the summit will support Mr. Arafat's diktat, however reluctantly. The founder of the permanent revolution and the stages strategy must go before there can be peace in the Middle East.
Unfortunately for Israelis, they will have to undergo low-intensity Arab violence until a new generation of Palestinians realizes they cannot afford another Palestinian catastrophe.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide