- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Just days after President Bush's envoy, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, arrived in the Middle East in the hope of restarting peace negotiations, Yasser Arafat and Hamas provided more grisly illustrations of what peace means to them.
At around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night, two Palestinian terrorists detonated suicide bombs at opposite ends of the crowded Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem. The explosives, packed with nails and screws, left large chunks of flesh and severed limbs strewn along the walkway. In an instant, a pleasant evening had once again been transformed into one of death and terror for Israelis, many of them high-school and college students. "I saw body parts," a witness, who arrived at the scene minutes later to tend to the wounded, told reporters. "It smelled like everything was burning. I held one teenaged guy whose body was torn apart. He was just a boy, maybe 18, and he was missing one of his arms." But the horrors had only begun. About 20 minutes later, a car bomb exploded roughly one block away, injuring more people, as police and rescue vehicles arrived on the scene. The three bombs in Jerusalem killed at least 14 people and wounded 170 more.
But the Saturday night carnage was only the beginning of what turned out to be one of the bloodiest days since the current "peace process" began on September 13, 1993, when President Clinton, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Mr. Arafat signed the Oslo I agreement at the White House. At approximately noon yesterday, another suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa, killing at least 12 more people. At least 26 people in addition to the bombers were killed and over 200 more were injured in the Haifa and Jerusalem bombings, carried out by Hamas. (Also on Saturday, Israeli security officials announced they had arrested members of a Hamas terrorist cell that planned to assassinate Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer outside his ministry in Tel Aviv.)
Once again, there followed the tedious and familiar series of rituals that have occurred after virtually every Oslo-era suicide bombing since the first one in April 1994. Mr. Arafat and his confederates in the Palestinian Authority (PA) made their usual "condemnation" of the violence. Israeli officials rightly termed these condemnations meaningless, pointing out that terrorist groups like Hamas would be unable to survive if Mr. Arafat actually carried out his signed peace agreements with Israel and moved to shut down the terrorist groups' infrastructure in the regions he controls with an iron fist. The Israelis also pointed out that Mr. Arafat has further exacerbated the terror problem by releasing members of groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP from his prisons and allowing his media to spew the most raw anti-Semitic and anti-American slurs with regularity.
To their credit, Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. Zinni were extraordinarily blunt in their public statements and private conversations with PA officials following this weekend's atrocities. Mr. Powell, for example, told Mr. Arafat that "these despicable and cowardly actions must be brought to an end" by "sustained actions by the Palestinian Authority against the individuals responsible and the infrastructure of the groups that support them." Mr. Bush, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House yesterday to discuss the situation, condemned the bombings as "an act of murder" and demanded that Mr. Arafat "immediately find and arrest these people."
The problem is that, all too often, the Bush administration sends mixed messages to the Palestinians; this is particularly true when Mr. Powell or his spokesmen denounce Israeli military operations which target the very senior Palestinian terrorist operatives that Mr. Arafat refuses to rein in. Sometimes, the administration's criticisms of Israel sound downright bizarre and hypocritical: Even as American planes drop huge bombs on terrorist targets in Afghanistan and senior officials all but say they hope Osama bin Laden is killed, Washington condemns Israel for doing roughly the same thing to some Palestinian terrorists operating out of Mr. Arafat's territory.
The Bush administration would be well-advised to follow the advice of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Let Israel give Mr. Arafat a choice, just as Washington did with the Taliban. The Taliban was told to choose between keeping control of Afghanistan and harboring Osama bin Laden. When it chose bin Laden, the United States went to war to depose the regime. Like Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, Mr. Arafat also should be compelled to choose between remaining in the terrorism-by-proxy business and staying in power. If he opts to stay in the terror business, Israel would be well within its rights to make Mr. Arafat pay the ultimate price.

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