- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets President Bush at the White House tomorrow, the Israeli leader will seek to engage the American leader in discussions about realistically salvaging what's left of the peace process, in the wake of a terrorism campaign waged by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that has killed more than 470 Israelis during the past 19 months and injured more than 3,800 others. During its recent military operations to wipe out the terrorist networks that were flourishing in areas of the West Bank under Mr. Arafat's control, the Israeli Army uncovered a warehouse full of documentary evidence linking the longtime PLO boss, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria to suicide bombings and other attacks against the Jewish state.
Mr. Arafat and the Saudis are being passionately courted by Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who desperately want to see them as "peacemakers." But if even a fraction of the evidence collected by the Israelis and laid out in chilling, comprehensive detail yesterday in the New York Times is correct, these worthies ought to be in jail cells awaiting trial for war crimes. For example, the evidence (some of which was previously reported in The Washington Times and the Jerusalem Post) includes a document "bearing the logo of the Saudi Committee for Assistance to the Al Quds Intifada that details more than $500,000 in payments to the families of 102 'martyrs,' at least 8 of whom, Israeli officials said, participated in 'suicide' attacks." Israel charges that the committee was headed by Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz, Saudi Arabia's interior minister.
Other documents found by the Israelis say that the Al Aqsa Brigades, a terrorist group affiliated with Mr. Arafat's Fatah wing of the PLO, collaborated with Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed terrorist group headquartered in Syria, in carrying out a November suicide attack in the Israeli city of Afula, in which two civilians were killed and 50 wounded. The documents also indicate that the attack was paid for by Islamic Jihad boss Ramadan Shallah, who lives in Syria. Israeli analysts say that a document dated September 2001 reveals that Mr. Arafat approved payments of $600 each to three men, one of whom led a Jan. 17 attack on a bar mitzvah party in Hadera where 6 persons were killed and 20 wounded.
Mr. Sharon is concerned, rightly, that the world is preoccupied with Mr. Arafat's suffering, while it gives short shrift to the plight of Israeli civilians slain, maimed and left orphaned by his thugs. "I got so many calls asking whether Arafat had enough food and candles [during the siege at his Ramallah headquarters]," Mr. Sharon says. "No one asked me about the two small girls whose parents were killed in a toy shop [by Palestinian terrorists]."
Unfortunately, some officials in the Bush administration seem annoyed that Mr. Sharon is taking up the president's time with such matters. The immediate challenge for Mr. Bush, a senior official told reporters Saturday, is to persuade Israel that "it's in their long-term interest to deal with Arafat, no matter how reprehensible he might be." This is typical of the mindset of European leaders' approach to the peace process (which is actually about process, not peace) and the Clinton administration's modus operandi when it came to dealing with Mr. Arafat and his continued violations of signed agreements with Israel. It's sad that Messrs. Bush and Powell, unable to bring themselves to stand up to terrorists like Mr. Arafat and their paymasters in the House of Saud, browbeat Mr. Sharon and Israel into making new concessions.


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