- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

Israelis have waited 22 long months for the United State's leadership to recognize what we tragically learned the hard way that Yasser Arafat has never abandoned his deep involvement in terrorism.
Apparently, the White House has been provided with irrefutable evidence that even as the current Palestinian leader was publicly pledging reform, his actions were leading to the successful completion of two suicide bombings that recently devastated Jerusalem. Tragically, for so many of our families, shattered by the unrelenting waves of shootings and suicide bombings, the satisfaction over the new U.S. policy of rejecting Mr. Arafat, cannot provide a salve for their broken hearts.
From my vantage point as mayor of the city hardest hit by the Palestinian violence, I whole heartedly welcome this new development in the American approach and urge the president to remain vigilant in this tough policy of zero-tolerance for terrorism.
Israel's enemies well understand the significance of Jerusalem in our history and seem to derive a special malicious pleasure in carrying out their attacks on its streets. With a merciless determination, the suicide bombers and the criminals that send them believe that by perpetrating their attacks in Jerusalem they can strike a double blow one to kill innocent Israelis and the other, a political assault on Zionism's capital. Indeed, the terrorists recognize that after our centuries long struggle to return to this city, any blow to Jerusalem is a strike on the heart of the Jewish people.
It is no secret that the terrorists have striven to create an atmosphere of intimidation in Israel's capital. With their attacks on our markets, pizza places, cafes and buses there has been a deliberate campaign to weaken our resolve and spread panic throughout the public. Many are truly nervous to walk in the downtown areas and everyone has had to make crucial lifestyle adjustments in the face of the attacks. While in truth, the violence and fear has permeated deep into our daily lives, I can personally attest to the courage of all Jerusalemites and their determination to carry on their daily lives.
Jerusalem, which has for decades been an important tourist destination, is suffering far worse than other Israeli cities from the sharp decline in tourism. Our hotels, tour guides, restaurants and taxi drivers are being plunged into a deep commercial morose. After so many months of the intifada, economy many are facing financial ruin. Without the tour groups, the overseas students, the religious pilgrims and conventions, which once fought for their attention, many businesses and educational institutions have had to downsize or have closed completely. The only companies really experiencing a boom, obviously, are the ones that provide private security guards.
Still, it is not just the city's Jewish neighborhoods that suffer from the tragedies. I am approached daily by residents of Jerusalem's Arab community who are as troubled and frightened as their Jewish neighbors. These Christian and Muslim citizens silently share the same anguish and concern over the violent rise in Islamic fundamentalism and the direction in which Mr. Arafat has lead the Palestinians. They confide to me their heartfelt outrage against those who send out young children strapped with suicide bombs and their moral disgust with leaders who target civilians for murder in their quest for statehood. In our conversations, I am assured of their genuine shock at the level the leaders of the Palestinian Authority has allowed itself to plunge.
Few Arab residents of East Jerusalem, given the choice today, would agree to relinquish their Israeli citizenship and place their families under the corrupt and unstable jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Many have related to me the horror stories of the cruelty that Mr. Arafat's regime is inflicting on their less fortunate neighbors in the Palestinian territories. Only the serious fear of retaliation stops them from publicly protesting and exposing the crimes being perpetrated by the Palestinian security services against other Palestinians.
Prior to October 2000, the residents of East Jerusalem were living in fear as the Palestinian security services had managed to operate freely in their neighborhoods. Successive Israeli governments had been too intimidated by the Palestinians and the Europeans to put a halt to these open violations. In my office, I received daily reports of revenge attacks, extortions, illegal arrests and kidnappings being carried out against Jerusalem's Arab residents by the Palestinian police.
The Palestinian Authority was trying to spread its dark web over Jerusalem's Arab community, and was defiantly daring us to shut them down. As they made our Arab citizens' lives a living hell with their crimes and intimidation, it became increasingly difficult to keep the normal pace of life in East Jerusalem.
In recent months, however, we have managed to reassert total Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. With the closing of Orient House, the Palestinians no longer have a diplomatic embassy operating in our midst. Palestinian security services no longer freely roam the city and have had their extortion of East Jerusalem businessmen seriously interrupted.
At first, our tough stance against the Palestinian security services operating illegally in East Jerusalem brought a wave of international condemnations against us, most harshly from the meddling Europeans. But then, miraculously, our critics had to recognize the effectiveness of our actions.
Almost overnight, the Arab neighborhoods no longer had to fear the violence and kidnappings by the Palestinian gangs. East Jerusalem officials were no longer being menaced by the militia bosses in Ramallah. Moreover, every Friday morning's religious service in Jerusalem's mosques were no longer being provoked into a riot by Mr. Arafat's agitators.
Faced with our successes, the reckless demand by the Europeans that we reopen Orient House and allow it to resume as a Fatah Tanzim operations center has suddenly ceased.
Our success in returning a measure of stability to East Jerusalem should serve as a model for all those truly seeking peace in this region. We weathered the knee-jerk outrage and the pressure asserted by the Arab world and the Europeans who refuse to take an honest look at the suffering on both sides of the conflict, as we carried out the long-overdue security measures. The residents of the Palestinian Authority, as well as Israelis, are counting on President Bush to stand firm against Mr. Arafat's corrupt and violent regime, and to implement his tough new policy.

Ehud Olmert is mayor of Jerusalem.


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