- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2001

JERUSALEM In the event that the Palestinian Authority does not satisfactorily respond to Israel's demands for curbing terrorrists, Israel has drawn up a list of military and administrative options designed to inflict real pain on the Palestinians without sparking a regional explosion.
Specific military steps, from a list drawn up by security authorities, have been chosen by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon together with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
These presumably include attempts, as in the past, to assassinate specific militants. Palestinians fear that this time, however, Israel may stage a large-scale invasion of limited areas under Palestinian control in an effort to root out terrorist cells. Such a reaction could risk armed intervention by Arab countries.
Administrative steps would be aimed at hurting the Palestinians economically and undermining the rule of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Steps contemplated or already planned, according to the Israeli media, include:
* A ban on the transfer of funds, fuel or mail to the Palestinian Authority. Since all physical access to the area is through Israel, these bans could be enforced. Food and medicine would not be affected.
* No goods would be allowed to transit through Israel to the Palestinian Authority, crippling construction and other commercial activities.
* The West Bank would be divided into two parts and no contact would be permitted beween them.
Gaza Port, from which Palestinian fishermen sail, would be closed. So would the Dahaniya Airport in Gaza, the only airport in the Palestinian areas.
Also contemplated, according to the media, are a curbing of telephone services in the Palestinian territories and the prevention of Authority officials, including perhaps Mr. Arafat himself, from leaving the territories.
There is a widespread feeling in Israel, even in the dovish camp, that Mr. Arafat has ceased to be a potential partner for a peace agreement.
A basic tenet of the Oslo Agreement was that the Palestinian Authority would see to it that terrorist acts would not be carried out from its territory against Israel. Now, say Israelis, he not only takes no action against terrorists but actually encourages them in order to pressure Israel into political concessions.
As Israel reserves its reaction to the suicide bombing Friday night that took the lives of 20 persons at a Tel Aviv discoteque, the region teeters on the edge of the unknown. Mr. Arafat's call for a cease-fire has stayed Israel's hand, but there are not many in Israel who believe that he will deliver on his promise.
Mr. Sharon, grasping the political importance of giving the possibility of a cease-fire a chance, has exercised a restraint that has surprised many. If, however, he decides to crack down on Mr. Arafat, no one on either side can be sure how things will develop.

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