- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

To Israelis, the news that Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to arrive in Israel tonight can only be cause for apprehension and foreboding. Mr. Powell will demand that Israel prematurely end its military campaign against Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's terrorist network.

But the ugly reality is that Mr. Arafat and his confederates respond to visits by well-meaning folks like Mr. Powell by stepping up their efforts to kill as many Jews as possible. Mr. Powell's current mission provides just the latest illustration. On Tuesday, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in the process of searching for terrorists at a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin. All were lured into an ambush by a child suicide bomber who may have been just 10 years old.

In an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Times yesterday, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, when Israeli troops spotted the boy at the refugee camp, they chased him into an alley, but did not fire at him. Once all of them were in the alley, the boy detonated a bomb, killing three soldiers and damaging a building, which collapsed on them. At that point, Palestinian snipers began firing from a nearby rooftop, killing 10 more soldiers and wounding nearly a dozen more. The boy, Mr. Netanyahu said, "was strapped with explosives and sent by Arafat's goons to explode. This is the kind of monstrosity we're dealing with." And yesterday, another Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa, killing eight persons and wounding dozens more.

Just two weeks ago, as Mr. Powell's trusted mediator, Gen. Anthony Zinni, was said to be on the verge of persuading Mr. Arafat to agree to a cease-fire agreement, another suicide bomber blew himself up at a Passover seder, killing 27 innocent people. In December, Gen. Zinni was welcomed to Israel with a Saturday night suicide bombing in Jerusalem and another the following day in Haifa. Mr. Netanyahu reminds us that groups connected with Mr. Arafat's Fatah organization such as the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades have carried out 90 percent of the suicide attacks during this period. Indeed, even before Israel launched its military offensive on March 29, documents seized by Israeli police from the PA's Orient House headquarters in Jerusalem showed that Mr. Arafat was financing attacks against Israel by the Tanzim, another Fatah terrorist militia.

It has become increasingly obvious, as Mr. Netanyahu told The Washington Times yesterday, that Mr. Arafat is much more a thug in the mold of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein than a peacemaker in the mold of Jordan's late King Hussein. It's time that President Bush and Mr. Powell understand that it makes little sense to squander political capital trying to make "peace" with a brutal dictator like Mr. Arafat. But, until Mr. Arafat is sent into exile, his ability to terrorize and intimidate his own people will prevent a responsible alternative Palestinian leadership from emerging.

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