- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001


A bitter split between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Bush over tactics in the anti-terrorism war reflects a split within the Bush administration along similar lines.

Mr. Sharon wants the U.S.-led global anti-terror campaign, set up after the Sept. 11 attacks, to target Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah Arab groups attacking Israeli civilians with suicide bombs and snipers.

But Mr. Bush following a strategy of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has decided to focus for now only on al Qaeda, the terror network of suspected mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Hawks such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz favored broader military action against state sponsors of terrorism such as Iraq.

"I think the president made it very clear today that this is about more than just one organization, it's about more than just one event," said Mr. Wolfowitz in the week after the Sept. 11 attacks, when asked about possible action against Iraq.

"I think everyone has got to look at this problem with completely new eyes in a completely new light."

A group of about 30 conservatives, including former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, two weeks ago published a letter to Mr. Bush calling for a tougher policy on terrorism than that of Mr. Powell, including "full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition."

The group, calling itself the Project for the New American Century, also rooted for action against Hezbollah, and demanded action against Syria and Iran as sponsors of terrorism.

"Israel has been and remains America's staunchest ally against international terrorism, especially in the Middle East," said the conservatives' letter.

"The United States should fully support our fellow democracy in its fight against terrorism."

Mr. Powell has indicated that the attack on bin Laden will be only the first step in a series of other measures he called them step two, step three and step four.

But both Mr. Powell and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher have refused to say what those measures would be which terrorist groups would be targeted once bin Laden and his network are neutralized.

Mr. Powell's plan which U.S. officials and observers say is the one adopted by Mr. Bush seeks to win the cooperation of Arab and other Muslim nations such as Pakistan to destroy networks of bin Laden cells and deny them shelter and financial resources.

The administration fears that clamping down on Palestinian terrorists could hurt efforts to bring Muslim nations into the anti-terror coalition.

To remove the Palestinian-Israeli violence as an obstacle to Muslim help in fighting bin Laden, Mr. Powell pushed Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to hold talks last week and set up a new cease-fire.

But Israel lashed out yesterday by occupying portions of Arab Hebron after Jews were shot during a religious observation at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunmen in the northern Israeli agricultural town of Afula and at a Gaza settlement. Palestinians died as well when troops fired on stone-throwing youths.

Bin Laden and other anti-Western Muslims have used the continuing trauma of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation no matter who started the violence as a sign of an American-Israeli and Jewish-Christian alliance against Islam.

Muslims across the Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia, rich and poor alike, have been bewitched by bin Laden's pledge to restore Islam to prominence and deal a blow to "American arrogance."

Many Muslims also seethe with frustration and anger at their own governments, many of which are corrupt and repressive as well as aligned largely with the United States.

Mr. Bush, in what was seen as an effort to undercut the anti-American rhetoric, said publicly this week, for the first time, that he would like to see a Palestinian state created, once Israeli security can be secured.

Mr. Powell's pattern of reaching out to Muslims follows his battle plan in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

He managed then to have Arab troops from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the Gulf States and Morocco fight alongside U.S. troops in driving Iraq out of Kuwait.

But to do so, Israel had to be sidelined. When Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf war, Mr. Powell sent Patriot missiles and appealed to Israel not to enter the fray for fear of unraveling the Arab-American alliance.

Mr. Sharon yesterday exploded against this policy, warning that "Israel is not Czechoslovakia," which the European allies allowed Hitler to occupy in an effort to appease him and avert war in 1938.

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