- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2002

The longer Israel's military campaign against Palestinian terror continues, the clearer it becomes that the Bush administration has no coherent idea of how to react. To his credit, President Bush has stepped up his criticism of Yasser Arafat's continued support for terrorism, and his rotten, bankrupt leadership which has brought the Palestinian people to ruin. But, judging from Mr. Bush's demand that Israel withdraw immediately from Palestinian cities, the president fails to comprehend that, just as the United States is in a war for its own survival against Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, Israel is also fighting for its very survival.
On September 11, roughly 3,000 people were brutally murdered in this country after terrorists, most of them from "moderate" Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, hijacked planes in order to crash them into buildings. Over the past 18 months, Palestinian terrorists operating out of Mr. Arafat's lairs in the West Bank and Gaza have carried out dozens of drive-by shootings and suicide bombings against shopping centers, cafes, pizzerias and discotheques in which more than 400 Israelis were killed. After a suicide bomber massacred 27 people at a Passover seder in Netanya 12 days ago, Israel finally decided it had had enough, and sent its military forces into the West Bank to do what Mr. Arafat promised but repeatedly failed to do since signing a "peace agreement" with Israel in September 1993: destroy the terrorist infrastructure operated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and his own Fatah organization.
Mr. Bush rightly understood that it would have been foolish and irresponsible to put an arbitrary deadline on U.S. anti-terror operations in Afghanistan, now entering their seventh month with no end in site. But he seems blind to the fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would be derelict in his duty if he did what Mr. Bush is now ordering him to do: prematurely end a critical military operation in the West Bank before terrorists are killed or captured and their hiding places destroyed. Were Mr. Sharon to capitulate and the suicide bombings to resume, Israel would almost certainly go right back into Arafatistan to wipe out the terrorists once again. And, Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell would demand for the umpteenth time that Mr. Arafat "do more" to prevent terrorism, which is something akin to demanding in the 1930s that Benito Mussolini to "do more" to encourage Italian democracy.
While Washington leans on Israel, Syria and Iran have apparently given the terrorist group Hezbollah the go-ahead to widen the war in solidarity with Mr. Arafat. Despite the fact that Israel withdrew from every inch of occupied Lebanese territory nearly two years ago, Hezbollah has begun firing missiles into Israel once again; five people were wounded, one seriously, on Saturday night when Hezbollah shelled an Israeli village. And the London Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that senior officials in Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority and Saddam Hussein's intelligence network are planning joint terrorist operations against Israel and Saudi Arabia in the event of U.S. military strikes against Iraq. Instead of marginalizing Israel and sniping at the way it conducts its war on terrorism, Washington needs to do some serious thinking about the mutual enemies we confront.

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