There is a well known medical phenomenon. Sometimes a person can develop an illness in a mild form that is not dangerous to him. But if he infects somebody else, the illness can develop in this others person body in a much more dangerous way and become life-threatening. There is something extremely unhealthy in the kaleidoscopic changes in Netanyahus political positions and proclamations. The diagnosis of his "illness" was made by Mahmud 'Abbas, alias Abu-Mazen, secretary of the PLO Executive Committee. On November 10 Londons Al-Sharq al-Awsat published an interview that Abu-Mazen gave during his recent visit to Moscow. When asked what he thought of the Israeli Prime-Minister, he replied, "As for Netanyahu, I have met with him on more than one occasion. He mixes public relations and politics, he is very interested in matters of propaganda, indeed so much so that his interest in these matters exceeds his interest in political matters."
Recent cases positively confirm this diagnosis. On November 3, in an interview with the Tel Aviv daily Hatzofe Netanyahu declared, "As for Jerusalem, we have already closed the (Palestinian) foreign ministry that operated out of Orient House." The problem with this statement is that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is unaware of this "closure." Otherwise they would not have met with a French Delegation on October 22 at Orient House. On the next day the official PA newspaper Al-Hayah al-Jadidah reported from "occupied Jerusalem" that, "a group of Orient House officials, headed by Faysal al-Husayni, member of the PLO Executive Committee, received an 11-member French delegation, headed by Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou."
The meeting lasted for more than two hours and, according to the newspaper, the "Palestinian officials concentrated on the fact that the Israeli aim is to empty Jerusalem of its legitimate residents, annex and Judaize it. They noted that the annexation of East Jerusalem is illegitimate and illegal." Putting it in plain English: for more than two hours, in a "non-existent foreign ministry," the Israelis "peace partners" conducted a meeting centered on blatant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda.
On November 17, two weeks after Netanyahus declaration that the PA foreign ministry did not exist, in Ramallah, 1,500 Fatah members participated in the first congress of the Fatah Movement from the "Jerusalem Region." At the end of the day Faisal al-Husaini, called a news conference in the "closed" Orient House, where he discussed the results of the congress and, among other things, said that "resistance against the colonialist cancer is a sacred duty," adding that "the Israeli colonialist activity in the occupied Palestinian territories will bring the region back to the cycle of violence."
Another proof of this "illness" is the extremely painful issue (for the Israelis) of the extradition of Palestinian murderers. It is impossible to count how many times different Israeli ministers, including Justice Minister Tzahi Hanegbi and Netanyahu himself, have promised to the Israeli public that there will be no further redeployment before the murderers are extradited to Israel. The Wye River Memorandum clearly shows that Israel has miserably failed on this issue. Nevertheless, Netanyahu tried his propaganda approach here too. On October 2, in an interview on the Jerusalem Channel 2 Television Network, when pressed by Ya'aqov Eylon to admit that the Wye Memorandum did not "stipulate the extradition of Palestinian terrorists such as Ghazi al-Jabali," Netanyahu declared that, "We are still demanding their extradition." When Eylon interrupted him, saying, "So what if we are demanding their extradition?" Netanyahu started to explain that, "we also know that these people will be jailed and will clearly be unable to leave prison. We have various mechanisms, including the United States, to ensure this."
Suddenly the extradition problem has dissolved by itself. How this happened became clear when, on November 9, in an interview with the Cairo Agency MENA, Dr. Nabil Sha'th, the Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation explained that "the attempts to seek the extradition of Palestinian citizens to Israel have been canceled for good" and that "the Palestinian side refused to sign an extradition treaty." That simply, the Palestinian leaders firmly said "No," and the Israelis meekly complied.
So while Netanyahu speaks, trying to score points in the propaganda campaign mainly directed towards the Israelis, the PA and the PLO collect real political points. Their achievements are impressive: it appears that Israel has lost every major battle on the Israeli-PLO agenda. Encouraged by President Clinton's commendation of Arafat's "decades, and decades, and decades" of struggle the PLO leaders feel that the time has come to openly declare their direct responsibility in terrorist activity against Israel. First Abu-Mazen, demanding the release of the terrorists imprisoned in Israel, said on November 10 in Moscow that "these prisoners fought under our supervision, and we were the ones who sent them." Then, on November 21, Palestinian Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, announced that "[It was we]-- myself, Mr. Arafat and Abu Mazen who sent them out on their operations in the first place. Now these fighters are the ones to be released."
Somehow everybody has forgotten what kind of "operations" these prisoners were involved in. It makes sense to refresh the memory. Professor William O. Brien wrote in the book Law and Morality in Israel's War with the PLO, that:
"the overwhelming number of the attacks have been terrorist in intention and execution. The PLO has seldom engaged in counterforce attacks against Israeli military forces and installations. Of 353 terrorist attacks in Israel that caused casualties between June 1967 and October 1985 only 25 involved Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) or security forces personnel. Many of the military personnel attacked were off duty, e.g.,at a hitch-hiking post."
The PLO did not change their style after 1985 either. Hundreds of innocent Israelis and Palestinian Arabs were brutally murdered by the terrorists whose release the Palestinian Authority is arranging today. This issue has been twisted and stood on its head to such an extent that the November 26 issue of The Jerusalem Post, a Jewish newspaper, does not hesitate to publish an article demanding the release of these terrorists, under the slogan "Let our people go," an only slightly altered version of Moses's appeal to Pharaoh to free the Jews, many thousands of years ago.
Netanyahus declaration on November 21 that "on no account" would he "free murderers" is very encouraging. He should be applauded for saying, "Do they expect us to release the killers of children and people who planted bombs a short time after they caused us such harm? I advise the Palestinians not to cultivate such illusions. This is our position and I will not make any agreement which requires me to affix my signature to the release of murderers."
However, knowing about Netanyahu's "illness," one may question this rhetoric, since only one day after his declaration, Israel released three Palestinian policemen who were captured in July,1997 while attempting to carry out a terrorist attack in Har Brachah in Samaria. The logic behind this move was impeccable. Since during the Wye River negotiations Israel waived the right to arrest their cell commander, Palestinian Police Chief Razi Jibali, there was no longer any reason to hold them in custody. If one follows this logic, there is also no reason to hold in custody the 1000 Palestinian terrorists jailed before Oslo either. As Abd-al-Raziq, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of handling Palestinian prisoners said on November 21, in an interview with Israeli radio Kol Yisrael, "it is inconceivable that Israel agrees to talk with those who sent the fighters but not releases the messengers."
While it appears that Netanyahu can survive his "illness" and remain in power, due to the Levy-Gesher injection, Israel, having also became infected, has developed some dangerous symptoms. The Jewish state, weakened by its fifty-year old existential struggle cannot fight anymore. The illness is spreading deeper and deeper into her body. She has lost her hearing and does not react to the uncompromising statements of the PA leaders, their anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric. She has lost her vision and does not notice the sea of venom that is pouring from the Arab media. She spends more and more time in surgery where her enemies cut piece after piece from her body. She suffers from a multiple personality syndrome thinking that she is still a proud and independent Hebrew state, while in reality she is a weak and dependent Jewish ghetto. Her condition is deteriorating rapidly. If emergency measures are not taken, a lethal outcome is inevitable. [11/26/98]
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New
York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center
for Strategic Studies.