- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

Yesterday afternoon's suicide bombing at a vegetable market in Netanya, in which three people were killed and almost 50 wounded, is just the latest indication that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and his friends in the Arab world clearly have a long way to go when it comes to eliminating the leading obstacle to peace: continued Palestinian terrorism. Unfortunately, the terror being directed against Israel continues, and Arab officialdom continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths: issuing general denunciations of violence on one hand, while issuing ambiguous "condemnations" which actually legitimize certain acts of anti-Israeli violence on the other.
Last weekend, for example, the leaders of Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia held a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, where they declared their "sincere desire for peace with Israel" and their "opposition to all forms of violence." Then, Mr. Arafat's Cabinet secretary, Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, clarified the PA position, declaring that Hamas' "activities" (i.e., terrorism against Israelis) should be limited "to the territories occupied in 1967." Just hours after that statement, a Palestinian worker shot his Israeli employer, a father of six, to death in Gaza. "Israelis will not be particularly impressed by a ban on terrorism that is, in effect, open season on Israelis living in the territories," the Jerusalem Post noted.
Like the PA, the non-democratic Arab regimes that were represented at the summit would have much more credibility in talking about peace if they weren't constantly giving aid and comfort to the forces of hatred and rejectionism. For example, even as the Saudis brag about their efforts to get Mr. Arafat and Hamas to stop terrorism, the Post quoted from a recent sermon broadcast on Saudi state television: "Oh God, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh God, destroy the Zionists and their supporters." Meanwhile, Saudi activists who are pushing a national boycott against U.S. goods to protest American backing for Israel say that members of the Saudi royal family have pledged their support.
Regrettably, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's state-controlled media is a conduit for some of the worst Jew-baiting in the Arab world. To cite just one of many examples, several weeks ago the government daily Al-Akhbar ran an op-ed in which the author described an imaginary conversation with Hitler about the Final Solution: "If only you had done it, brother, if only it had really happened." As for Syria, just 48 hours after the summit, strongman Bashar Assad vowed to continue supporting Hezbollah attacks on Israel.
In a speech Wednesday on "reforming" the PA, Mr. Arafat slanderously attempted to blame Palestinian suffering on Israel's recent military operation against his West Bank terror network, rather than his own malfeasance and corruption. "They tried to abolish this peace deal, they took the military option … to demolish, kill and destroy our infrastructure," he declared. On Friday, Mr. Arafat suggested that he might not permit Palestinian elections to occur until Israel ended its "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza, conveniently neglecting to say anything about the suicide bombings carried out by his own operatives that provoke Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli security officials said last week that Mr. Arafat's much-ballyhooed arrests of Hamas operatives following the May 7 bombing in Rishon Letzion which killed 16 involved lower-level figures and were "cosmetic" in nature. On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said that they prevented a number of suicide bombings in Jerusalem and the West Bank by arresting a number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives who escaped arrest during Operation Defensive Shield. Mr. Arafat and his numerous security services don't seem to have gotten the message about ending terror.


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