- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Just 48 hours after his "historic" Dec. 16 address calling for an end to suicide bombings, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat provided yet another illustration of the outrageous behavior that has destroyed what was left of the current "peace process" and has cost him many of the trappings of power he had only a few months ago, including his freedom of movement. Speaking to a group of young Arabs from Jerusalem, Mr. Arafat declared that he is willing to sacrifice 70 "martyrs" (i.e., Palestinians) for one dead Israeli, and also promised that Palestinians would continue to fight for "their" land. Bassam Abu Sharif, an adviser to the PA boss, was subsequently trotted out to assert that Mr. Arafat's remarks were incorrectly translated perhaps by dark forces seeking to manipulate public opinion.

Having suffered the post-Oslo consequences of Mr. Arafat's longstanding campaign of anti-Israel incitement and broken promises to crack down against terrorists operating out of areas under his control, Israelis know very well what the Palestinian leader really said. "What is that speech, if not incitement," replied Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "If he is going to stop the violence, that is not the way to do it. The way to do it is to say, 'Lay down your weapons.' "

After listening to Mr. Arafat, the Syria-based Islamic Jihad, one of the most prominent terrorist groups operating out of territory under his control, vowed to continue carrying out suicide attacks against Israel. Hamas, the most deadly Palestinian terrorist group, vowed to halt some suicide attacks, but reserved the right to target several hundred thousand Israelis who reside in the West Bank and Gaza. President Bush responded forcefully, telling Mr. Arafat and Hamas that such a phony "cease-fire" wouldn't do. "All terror activities everywhere must stop immediately," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said last Friday. "Hamas remains a terrorist organization. It remains Arafat's responsibility to demonstrate that he does not want terrorism to be practiced in the Middle East." Thus far, Mr. Arafat is flunking his latest test. When Israel told him he could make his annual Christmas pilgrimage to Bethlehem Monday if he arrested fugitive terrorists in Ramallah, members of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Mr. Arafat refused.

The prominent Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that last Friday, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer telephoned Mr. Bush's peace envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, and gave him detailed information about involvement by members of Mr. Arafat's Fatah organization and PA officials in the planning and execution of recent terrorist attacks. All of this information is surely known to Mr. Arafat, who has failed to do anything to stop these outrages. Since Mr. Arafat has failed miserably at stopping terrorism emanating from PA-controlled lands, Israel has no choice but to step in to protect its citizens and do the job for him.

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