- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

The pace of diplomacy sputters on in, around and even far from the Middle East. So does the war behind the words. The talk may be meaningless, but the events are all too real: a Palestinian child caught in the cross fire, an Israeli woman gunned down on a highway, innocents blown apart in Jerusalem or Hadera, observers shot down when they get too close … .
There is a name for all this. In the Newspeak of our time, it's called the peace process. By which is meant, all too clearly, a war process. All the propaganda, negotiations and summit conferences cannot hide what is happening on the blood-soaked ground.
There are days when it is particularly clear what the Palestine Authority, its friends, accomplices and shills have wrought. Such a day was last Tuesday. That's when a car carrying explosives blew up outside the Malha Mall in Jerusalem as a crowd of people were doing their Passover shopping. The peace process was clearly gaining momentum. By the following day, a festive holiday gathering in a Netanya hotel was blown to smithereens.
Meanwhile, north of Hebron, two observers with the international force there, one Turk, one Swiss, were gunned down in their clearly marked car. They had made the mistake of using a road Jews usually traveled.
Meanwhile, still another meeting of the Arab League was being convened in order to consider still another peace plan from Saudi Arabia. Essentially it's the same one the Saudis throw out every 10 years or so, much like a fisherman's fly. Just to see if the suckers will bite.
The essence of the deal, as always, is that the Israelis will agree to retreat from defensible positions in return for the kind of empty promises that, once again, have led to war.
You would think the world would catch on by now, but it doesn't. Mainly because it suits everybody's diplomatic purposes to pretend that war is peace and that such offers are serious.
The Saudi proposal was already being watered down even before it was presented from an offer of "normalization" of relations with Israel to the usual peace only in words.
And in Israel, a dithering premier is trying to hold his government and his country together by mixing diplomacy and force equally, so they cancel each other out.
As for Yasser the Wily, president and Machiavelli-in-chief of the Palestine Authority, once again he's thriving as any hope of peace dies. One day he's demanding the right to leave Israel/Palestine/Chaos for the Arab summit in Beirut. Then he decides not to attend after all because he might not be allowed back in.
Besides, in return for letting him leave, the Israelis had demanded that Yasser Arafat first call off his war in Arabic. He found this unreasonable, insulting and offensive. How dare the Israelis insist he tell his own people what he has been telling the rest of the world all this time, that he's really for a cease-fire?
Yasser Arafat has spent his whole career communicating in this split-level fashion, and he's seldom been so successful. With every killing, Israel's confused leaders seem to grow more so, divided between striking back and continuing to take it. They still don't realize they're in a war, not some kind of negotiation. It's as if, responding to September 11, Washington had opened talks with the Taliban in hopes of getting it to control al Qaeda.
Yasser Arafat thrives on these kind of games. If he can do to Israel what he did to Lebanon decades ago, and set up a state-within-a-state to provide sanctuary for his terrorists while they're blowing up Israelis, he can hope to make the turmoil permanent and Israel's position untenable. And all this bloody chaos will be called a peace process.
Israel's people woke up to the danger some time ago. You can tell by their growing demands for decisive action. But its divided government, which of course is called a government of national unity, is still being rope-a-doped. Only slowly does Ariel Sharon's splintered Cabinet come to realize that limited forays into Palestinian cities won't end the violence, since Yasser Arafat doesn't care how many Palestinians are sacrificed, let alone Israelis whether Arab or Jewish.
Surcease will not come until the Israelis themselves carry out the provisions of the Oslo Accords that the Palestine Authority was supposed to like arresting terrorists, rooting out their cells, seizing their arms and disbanding the whole interwoven spider's web of outfits like Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah, plus Yasser Arafat's own Force 17 and Tanzim.
In short, the war won't end till it's fought. Which is a hard truth to face. It's so much easier to pretend a war process is a peace process till you notice the blood rising all around.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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