- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

With Yasser Arafat's heated pronouncement following last weekend's Arab League summit that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak should "go to hell," chances seem better than ever that Mr. Arafat will be responsible for taking the whole region there. He has announced he will proceed with the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, to which the Arab leaders pledged $800 million. That step will surely lead to a conflict with Israel of far greater proportions and lethality than the low-intensity struggle that Mr. Arafat oxymoronically calls the "peace intifada" now playing out in the streets of Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

What makes these prospects so tragic is not merely the enormous cost that will be associated with a renewed war between the Jewish State and her neighbors. It is that such an outcome was absolutely predictable given the way the Clinton-Gore administration pursued the so-called "peace process."

The truth of the matter is that this "process" was doomed from its inception, given the actual nature of Israel's purported "partner for peace" and his agenda. After all, Mr. Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization has since 1974 formally subscribed to what it has called a "Plan of Phases."

This plan was adopted in the aftermath of the Arabs' crushing defeat by Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It effectively acknowledged an unpleasant fact of life for the Palestinians and other, sworn enemies of Israel: So long as Israel enjoyed the secure and defensible borders it obtained in the course of the penultimate Six-Day War in 1967, the Arab option of destroying the "Zionist entity" in their midst was effectively foreclosed.

Hence the Plan of Phases. Phase One would focus on the acquisition from Israel through terrorism, coercion, international pressure and diplomacy of territory that would be placed under the control of the Palestinians. This would change Israel's borders and in other ways diminish the Jewish State's self-defense capabilities (for example, by complicating the mobilization of Israel Defense Forces and confining their ground movements to easily interdicted roads).

Such territory would, thereafter, be used not only to create an independent Palestinian state but as the base from which Phase Two would be mounted: the ultimate liquidation of the State of Israel.

To its lasting shame and Israel's potentially mortal peril, the Clinton-Gore administration studiously ignored Arafat's abiding commitment to the Plan of Phases. It did not insist he renounce this stratagem as a price for the international legitimacy, financial assistance, armaments and other benefits (including the Nobel Peace Prize) that came the way of this unreconstructed terrorist thug by dint of his inclusion in the peace process. (Lest there be any doubt what effect such help translates into for desperate dictators, remember how the Clinton-Gore-Holbrooke decision to make Slobodan Milosevic a "partner for peace" at Dayton enabled that war criminal to stave off popular demands for his resignation for some five years, at huge expense to his own people, the Balkans and Western nations ultimately obliged to dislodge him from Kosovo?)

Worse yet, Messrs. Clinton and Gore, and a succession of like-minded Israeli leaders, have insisted in the name of the "peace process" on discounting Mr. Arafat's incessant affirmation in Arabic to his own people that the Plan of Phases remains their guiding document. They have made excuses for his calls to "jihad" or holy war. They have downplayed the clear implications of his use for official and other purposes, including in schoolchildren's textbooks, of maps showing a "Palestine" that includes all of pre-1967 Israel.

Now, Yasser Arafat is making his intentions known not just to Arabs but to all the world. As the Jerusalem Post put it in an editorial on Monday:

"Arafat told the Arab summit that the Palestinian goal is the 'establishment of our independent state on the blessed land of Palestine with holy Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of refugees based on international legitimacy resolutions, especially Resolutions 181 and 194.' These two U.N. resolutions, passed in November 1947 and December 1948, respectively, provide for an Israel even more truncated than the pre-1967 lines, and for the 'right of return' of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel proper. These demands are in marked contrast to the 1967 and 1973 U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which require that all states have 'secure and recognized borders' and which have been the basis of all subsequent peace agreements."

The great danger is that Mr. Arafat's increasingly brazen demands betray a conviction on the part not only of the Palestinians, but their Arab allies as well, that Phase One is now sufficiently complete to move directly to Phase Two a renewed war of extermination against the Jewish State. There are press reports that Iraq has put four to five armored divisions in proximity to its borders with Syria and Jordan. And, despite what is being described as the triumph of the "moderate" Arab regimes during the weekend summit reaffirming, as the Jerusalem Post put it, their "strategic decision for peace, in practice … the summit backed Arafat's collapsing of the cycle of violence and the cycle of peace into a single process, a 'peace intifada' fought not with stones but machine guns and lynchings."

Now is the time for the U.S. government to end the ambiguity that has helped foster this phony peace process and the cycle of violence that it had to spawn ambiguity about its support for Israel whenever that conflicts with the role of "honest broker" it has been pursuing to appease the Arabs; ambiguity about the acceptability of Mr. Arafat's Plan of Phases. Things may have already have deteriorated to the point where another war is unavoidable. By making clear our solidarity with Israel, however, we can maximize the disincentives to the Arabs contemplating the war option and the chances that Israel will prevail should her enemies once again try to destroy the Jewish State.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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