- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2001

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt met last week with President Bush in Washington and King Abdullah II of Jordan is meeting with him today.
Their message is that the United States should become seriously engaged in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both have been hoping to resurrect security and political agreements of the last two years: the Sharm Al Sheik 2000 agreement on security and the Taba 2001 failed political "understanding" between the Israelis and Palestinians in which the Palestinians sought to link security with political talks.
President Bush remains unconvinced that the United States should intervene in political matters, but he is ready to support the parties on security matters. The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth of April 6 reported on tough talk by National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amru Moussa, "Arafat is responsible for terror, and Egypt is not doing enough to warn him of the danger."
Unfortunately, neither the Egyptians nor the Jordanians have succeeded in warning Yasser Arafat to end violence. Instead, along with other Arab countries, they have pledged to support the Palestinians.
Also last week, 22 Arab states and the Palestinians held a summit in Amman, Jordan. At the same time, Mr. Arafat ordered his praetorian guard Force 17 to terrorize Israel. Mr. Arafat coordinated with the radical Hammas and Islamic Jihad so they could also participate in the most violent week in Israel since the violence began in September.
The summit split on sanctions against Iraq, but had no qualms about joining to condemn Israel for responding to the violence of Mr.Arafat. This raises two serious questions about the Middle East conflict: Who is the real Yasser Arafat, and what are the real attitudes of Arab regimes about Israel, especially the moderate states?
Mr. Arafat is a revolutionary terroris. And so long as he commands the Palestinian Authority, there will be no peace in the Middle East.,The mantra proclaimed by Mr. Arafat, his minions and his media that unless Israel ends occupation he will not end violence is a big lie.
At Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton offered Mr. Arafat the most generous terms that could have possibly been made, and certainly more than had ever been offered in the past. Mr. Arafat flatly rejected the offer. Had he accepted, occupation would be at an end and there would be a Palestine state today. There would be no need for violence.
It should be clear to the international community, the Palestinians and the Israeli public that so long as Yasser Arafat heads a terrorist organization, there will be no Palestine state.
Mr. Arafat is not a partner for peace, and he must go. Obviously, it is up to the Palestinians to bring a revolutionary change to their government.
The Palestinian mood demonstrates that if there were a new election today, Mr. Arafat would not be re-elected. There is a Palestinian leadership group that would like to see Mr. Arafat disappear, but they are afraid of him. He is the symbol of Palestinian resistance and nationhood. Like a former radical Palestinian, the Grand Mufti ofJerusalem, whose solution was to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine (hopefully with the help of the Nazis, with whom he collaborated), Yasser Arafat has failed to establish a Palestine state.
So long as Mr. Arafat is in charge, any attempts at negotiation will fail. His present strategy is clear: escalate the violence. With the help of biased pro-Palestinian coverage by CNN, he can spread his propaganda throughout world, claiming that he and his people are the victims of an oppressive Israel when in fact Mr. Arafat is the perpetrator.
For him, it is worth the sacrifice of a thousand Palestinian children, sending them to attack the Israeli army and draw defensive fire if possible for the cameras and the headlines.
Mr. Arafat wants to destroy the Sharon governments. More than any other Middle East leader, including Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat is responsible for the loss of thousands of Palestinian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Israeli, American and Jewish livesaround the world. His effort to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, the Lebanese government, and now the Israeli government demonstrate who Mr. Arafat is. The Wall Street Journal wrote in a March 31 editorial: "Whats really at work here is a deliberate and cynical strategy to provoke Israel into responses that will in turn provoke sanctions from the international community, or even the insertion of an outside military force."
Most disturbing is the attitude of Arab states to Mr. Arafat. Summit after summit, they demonstrate that they are nothing but his hostages. The tail wags the dog. Mr. Arafats Palestine Liberation Organization ignited the 1956 and 1967 wars. He has embroiled the Arab world in bloodshed and loss of treasure from the 1950s until now. At the recent Amman summit, Arab leaders genuflected to Mr. Arafats demands and legitimized his terrorist actions.
Why do Arab regimes, especially the moderates, support Mr. Arafat? The answer is their fear of the mob that Arafat instigates in their own countries. Egypt and Jordan are benevolent dictatorships. Syria and Iraq are totalitarian dictatorships. The Arab Gulf states are moderate but weak. Arab leaders who want to join the global economy do not want war. They know a war with Israel is not in their national interest.
Yet, by failing to harness Mr. Arafat (and they have plenty of means to do this), they bring more catastrophe and disaster to their people. At the Amman summit, the Arab leaders refused to condemn th ePalestinian suicide bombers and rushed to condemn Israel for responding to Mr. Arafats terror.
It is sad that weak Arab leaders, afraid of their own people, channel the discontent of the masses away from themselves and toward Israel. It is in their national interest not to provoke a war, and yet they support the arsonist Yasser Arafat.
Arab intellectuals and independent thinkers consider personal survival to be the chief concern of Arab leaders. Under such circumstances, it is hard to imagine peace in the Middle East.

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


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