- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 8, 2004

After the Israeli Likud Party rejected Ariel Sharon’s plan to build a wall and eventually withdraw Israel from the West Bank, Mr. Sharon said he remains committed to the plan, as well he should. After years of being mired in a “peace process” designed to exact concessions, land, life and the right of self-determination from the state of Israel, Mr. Sharon is exercising the wisdom of Solomon in his new plan to deal with the West Bank.

Since the Intafadas, Israel has appeared at every peace table as a good-faith partner, yet has received murdered men, women and children in return. At Camp David in 1998, the Israeli government conceded to more than 90 percent of the Palestinian’s demands, yet Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership walked away from the table, demonstrating the Palestinian Authority has little interest in real peace with Israel.

Camp David should have been a final straw to an Israeli government that has consistently met its obligations. Yet the Israelis have repeatedly allowed America to drag them back to the bargaining table to haggle with murderers.

While the PA has paid lip service to the peace process, its leaders have encouraged, supported and harbored terrorists in concert with groups such as Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah.

In the attacks on America of September 11, 2001, Israel should have found a zero-tolerance partner in the war against terrorism, yet America instead has counseled restraint in response to dastardly attacks. In 2002, President Bush presented his “Path to Peace” plan and insisted Israel adopt it.

Once again, Israel committed and conformed to the peace terms. Once again, Israel was met with murder. While Israel acted to fulfill its obligation, the terrorists blew up civilians in restaurants, checkpoints and buses.

Now, however, the Sharon government has chosen a new path in dealing with the Palestinians — Israel has decided to build a barrier around the West Bank and when complete unilaterally withdraw, leaving the West Bank to the Palestinians. When the withdrawal occurs, Israel will bring a measure of peace to its citizens, and the Palestinians will have a state.

For this, Israel is condemned internationally.

That U.N. and European countries feel justified in condemning Israel for seeking to protect itself by building the wall is an affront to those who seek justice and peace. What does Israel owe the Palestinians (or the world) that it must expose its citizenry to homicide when history has shown any hope of peace with the current Palestinian leadership is folly?

In addition to the wall and Israeli withdrawal, Israel is trying to ensure peace for its people and a future for the Palestinians by targeting and killing Hamas leadership. Mr. Sharon and his administration have said lately Mr. Arafat could be next.

While this new posture on Mr. Arafat has brought stern condemnation from the U.N. bunch and statements of concern from the Americans, acting on such a threat could conceivably do more for the Palestinian people than 100 peace discussions.

The PA and terrorists associates have condemned the Palestinians to a life of poverty, squalor, hatred and death. The U.N. is complicit in this via support of Mr. Arafat and hatred of Israel, just as it was complicit in the brutalization of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein via oil-for-food money.

Ariel Sharon knows Israel will be condemned, no matter how it tries to protect Isaelis from terror, so he understands his government may as well be effective in its tactics. Thankfully, in the unilateral withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, America and Britain have stated support for Israel.

With the recent Likud vote, the future of the Sharon plan is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that enacting the plan will make Israel and the West Bank safer. Israel will be safer from terrorists and Palestine safer from Israeli retribution.

JOHN S. PAPPAS

Mr. Pappas is a D.C. area writer.


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