- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

In the wake of Israel's military offensive against Yasser Arafat's West Bank terror network, there's a growing consensus in Washington and Europe for some kind of aid package for the Palestinians. In the short term, there is a strong case for providing humanitarian aid to families who lost their homes in the recent fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian terrorists. But, beyond essential aid for things like food, medical assistance and shelter, it would be the height of folly to pour money into the West Bank and Gaza in the desperate hope of putting together a "Marshall Plan" for the Palestinians.

Most of the violence and destruction of property that occurred during the past month is the direct result of the fact that Mr. Arafat's own Fatah terrorist group, working in conjunction with like-minded organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, located bomb-making facilities and terrorist command-and-control centers inside densely populated areas of cities and refugee camps.

To listen to some Arafat defenders, any effort to achieve peace with the Palestinians that does not involve Mr. Arafat is doomed to failure. And, although Mr. Arafat has said he condemns terrorism and supports peace, he had a major role in orchestrating recent Palestinian violence against Israel.

For example, documents found at Orient House, the Jerusalem building that served as the headquarters of Mr. Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization in the Israeli capital, show that he "authorized funding to a Palestinian that was on Israel's most-wanted list and to two dozen other activists in his Fatah faction that carried out terrorist attacks against Israel," the Jerusalem Post reported April 12. At Orient House, which was shut down last year after a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem killed 15 persons, Israeli authorities found a document with Mr. Arafat's handwritten authorization of $300 for Atef Abayat, a leader of Fatah's al-Aksa Brigades in Bethlehem. The payment was authorized on July 9, 2001, when Israel had already requested that Mr. Arafat arrest Mr. Abayat for killing Israelis. Two months after Mr. Arafat authorized the payment, Israelis say, Mr. Abayat killed another Israeli civilian in the Bethlehem area.

Moreover, information gained from Palestinians arrested during Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli offensive in the West Bank, strongly suggests that the Palestinian police, headed by longtime Arafat confederate Jibril Rajoub, were also a part of this terror network. Instead of preventing Palestinian terrorism against Israel their responsibility under the Oslo peace agreement with the Jewish state the Palestinian police would field Israeli requests to arrest terrorists and turn the information over to Islamic Jihad, which warned its cadres so they could evade arrest. The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this month that some of Fatah's terrorist attacks were funded by Islamic Jihad boss Ramadan Shallah, who is based in Damascus.

Instead of clinging to old illusions about Mr. Arafat, it's time for farsighted U.S. policy-makers to understand that there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace so long as Mr. Arafat and his friends are around to foment violence.

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