- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

Just as guests were gathering for a Passover seder in a hotel dining room in the northern Israeli coastal town of Netanya, a suicide bomber in their midst blew himself up, injuring more than 100 people and killing at least 15. In the dimly lit rubble of the hotel, it was again clear that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was incapable of stopping the violence. Meanwhile, the Arab League's proposed communique from the on-going Beirut summit which promised to fund the Palestinian intifada and was filled with hateful rhetoric toward Israel showed that the violence brought against Israeli civilians is blessed by most of the Arab League.

The original Saudi peace deal, which was to have been the focus of the summit and would have offered normalized relations with Israel in exchange for Israel's withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, was virtually dead upon arrival. With the absence of 12 of the heads of state in the 22-member Arab League, including those from Egypt and Jordan, the only countries besides Saudi Arabia to make peace with Israel, any conciliatory gestures toward Israel had little chance of surviving. A mutant form of the proposal is likely to receive approval from the Arab League today, with more focus on the conditions required of Israel than of any concessions to be given to them.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's idea to submit the proposal for normalized relations to the United Nations was met by the Syrians' proposal to break off relations with Israel until they pull back to pre-1967 borders and a comprehensive peace is reached. Then again, very few of the countries in attendance were there to make peace anyway. The Arab League seemed less concerned with the fate of the Palestinian people than they were with winning the intifada against Israel. There was no criticism of Iraq, one of the most aggressive supporters of the intifida. The summit was unified in the opinion that Iraq should not be attacked. Even Kuwait reached an agreement with Iraq on the sidelines.

What next, the knighting of Osama bin Laden as the Arab League's own hero? Perhaps. Osama bin Laden or someone claiming to be him sent a message to the Arab newspaper al Quda al-Arabi calling the Saudi peace plan "a Zionist American one in Saudi clothes." Should the message prove to be from America's most wanted, his echo of the Arab League's tune is another confirmation that the real soul of our Arab "allies in the war against terrorism" is not with us.

So, with Saudi Arabia isolated, Israel and the United States properly denounced and violence praised, the Arab League has done nothing for peace and everything for war. It has, sadly, given little hope that this Passover bombing will be the last.

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