- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

On Monday, President Bush, the leader of the Free World, outlined a framework for peace to end Palestinian suicide bombings, Israeli incursions and the growing body count caused by this destructive conflict.

To compliment the president's strategy, substantive steps to bring security to the region must be taken. The Israelis and Palestinians have had the opportunity to fight terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and both have failed.

America should work with our allies to bring forces from moderate Arab nations, such as Egypt and Jordan, to the Palestinian territories to train, augment and lead the security forces of the Palestinian Authority. This multi-Arab force should serve on an interim basis, help facilitate an atmosphere for peace negotiations and leave as soon as the peace process has run its course.

A security force made up of multiple moderate Arab states would have no excuses and no motivation to tolerate terrorism. If, for some unlikely reason, the United States felt that the anti-terrorist efforts of this security force were not sufficient, we would have better options to correct these shortcomings with Egypt and Jordan than we have had with the Palestinian Authority.

In terms of effectively rooting out terrorists in the Palestinian territories, a multi-Arab force would enjoy tremendous advantages. The Arab force would enjoy a greater level of cooperation from the local populace than any non-Arab force could ever hope to attain.

Any assaults on terrorist strongholds taken by this security force would not increase the anti-Western sentiment that radical groups require for recruiting members and financing their evil operations.

Egypt and Jordan understand the danger posed by terrorist elements committed to overthrowing pro-Western governments and establishing radical Islamic states. One of al Qaeda's top lieutenants, Mohammed al Zawahari, was directly involved in the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In 1999, Jordanian police and intelligence forces foiled an al Qaeda attack on Western interests during the millennium celebration.

It should be clear that the terrorists who seek to harm us also pose a significant threat to our Arab allies in the Middle East. There is no room for squabbling amongst allies in the face of enemies as dangerous as al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Iraq.

The alliance between the United States and moderate Arab states remains strong; however, the United States needs to strengthen ties between moderate Arab states and Israel.

We must facilitate cooperation between our Arab allies and Israel, particularly when neither side seems interested in cooperating with one another. Today, we should encourage our Arab allies to return their ambassadors to Tel Aviv and urge the Israeli government to demonstrate a commitment to the peace process by removing settlements located within the West Bank.

The United States has a clear and attainable option for bringing true accountability to the Middle East peace process. A new security solution for the Palestinian territories is in the interests of the United States, our friends in the Arab world and all nations who place the eradication of terrorist networks at the top of their agenda.


Darrell Issa, California Republican, is a member of the House International Relations Committee.


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