- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

The United States should not pressure Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because Yasser Arafat is "completely untrustworthy," House Majority Whip Tom DeLay said last night.
"During four decades of terrorism, Yasser Arafat has proven his total contempt for human life," Mr. DeLay said. "We should support Israel as they dismantle the Palestinian leadership that foments violence and fosters hate."
In a foreign policy address at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., the Texas Republican gave an impassioned defense of Israel's democracy. He said undemocratic regimes in other Middle Eastern nations are "fueling the climate of violence" against Israel.
The college was the site of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in 1946.
The Bush administration has supported Israel's recent military occupation of Palestinian territory but also says Mr. Arafat is not a terrorist because he has participated in peace talks. The White House has criticized Israeli plans to exile Mr. Arafat.
The speech comes as many in Congress are urging the administration to become more involved in the crisis. Mr. DeLay did praise Mr. Bush for "standing solidly with Israel" and "resisting the constant calls to force Israel back to the negotiating table where they will be pressured to grant concessions to terrorists."
But the third-ranking House Republican said Mr. Arafat has no credible role to play in solving the crisis in the Middle East.
"Arafat and his Authority have been an impediment to peace and a threat to the emergence of moderate Palestinian voices," Mr. DeLay said. "No one should expect the people of Israel to negotiate with groups pursuing the fundamental goal of destroying them.
"We should begin by rejecting the idea that the United States should somehow be a disinterested party mediating between two good-natured nations earnestly striving for peace. The time has come to drop the empty pretense that we can serve the region as a mere broker. The defense of freedom demands more from us than a value-neutral brokerage. It is time for us to stand squarely against the terrorist organizations which systematically attack Israel."
Mr. DeLay said Mr. Bush "led boldly" in the war on terrorism after September 11 when he declared to the world, "You are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
But he implied that the administration had softened on that principle in the Middle East.
"We need to assess other threats with the same moral clarity," he said, citing the suicide bombings in Israel and the brutality of communist regimes in China and Cuba.
He said Arab states must halt the terrorism against Israel and "must accept Israel's fundamental right to exist."
"The parties must negotiate a comprehensive settlement acknowledging Israel's right to exist, the need for permanent, secure and internationally recognized borders, and the guarantee that people of all faiths will have access to Jerusalem's holy places," Mr. DeLay said.
The Texas Republican said terrorism can never be rewarded because it is never a legitimate form of resistance to oppression or occupation.
"The free world must never negotiate with terrorists," he added. "Suicide bombings specifically, and terrorism generally, are not a form of resistance they are cold-blooded murder. This hellish strategy of destruction menaces far more than the state of Israel. It is a threat to the entire civilized world."

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