- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Yasser Arafat's plea for U.S. troops, made from behind the Israeli blockade of his Ramallah compound, isn't a plea for peace. It's a plea to help save his terrorist network from complete destruction by putting America in the middle of the mess he created. The cry for American intervention from Mr. Arafat, the United Nations and others is one that President Bush should resolutely ignore.
The weekend surge of criticism of Mr. Bush's supposed inaction began with Mr. Arafat and bounced around the usual places. From Britain's former foreign secretary Douglas Hurd came the suggestion that we lock Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mr. Arafat in the same room and refuse to let them out until they agree to terms for peace. But that's not a serious proposal. From the Clinton administration's assistant secretary of state for near-eastern affairs, Edward Walker, came the equally unserious and politically charged recommendation that Mr. Bush "step on the Israelis" and "make it clear that they are now beginning to impinge on serious American interests throughout the region." The Israelis are fighting the same fight we are; they are simply defending themselves.
If six bombings in six days prove anything, it is that the Palestinians continue to believe that suicide bombings of innocent people is a tactic that will win them victory over Israel. On Monday, the terrorist organization Hamas threatened to set loose a series of suicide bombings the likes of which Israel has never seen before. There cannot be peace unless and until the Palestinians and nations such as Iran that sponsor the terrorists publicly renounce terror and abide by that renunciation for longer than the time it takes to train and arm the next bomber. Mr. Arafat's bilingual diplomacy calling for peace in English and war in Arabic puts his and his allies' credibility at an all-time low. It can only be repaired by actions, and ending the bombings is the only place to start.
At this moment, the situation at Ramallah and across the West Bank and Gaza is highly sensitive to outside meddling. Mr. Bush should not make the mistake of earlier presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter being the most notable among them by surrendering to the hubristic ideas that he alone can produce peace and that he can do so before the bombings stop.
Intervention may be advisable at some point, but now is not the time and putting a "peacekeeping force" on the ground to separate the Israelis and the Palestinians may never be the right way to do it. Unfortunately, neither is Secretary of State Colin Powell's disagreement with Mr. Sharon's proposal to exile Mr. Arafat. Until we have a better idea, America should not be a meddlesome interloper in one of the world's most delicate situations. America has benefited greatly from Mr. Bush's clarity in his speeches since September 11. Both he and Mr. Powell should get back to clarity, and away from interference.


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