Pity Bill Clinton and his weary band of Middle East hands. They have worked tirelessly to force Israel to give land for peace, and here comes the Netanyahu government with a shocking demand: Land for Compliance. What took Bibi so long? Israel wants the Palestinians to abide by its agreements before ceding more land in Judea and Samaria. And on the very eve of his summit with Clinton, Bibi Netanyahu has the chutzpah to try and cash his marker on America.
The marker was in the form of a Note for the Record, signed by Dennis Ross a year ago today. Israel pulled out of Hebron, the birthplace of Judaism, in accordance with its word given in Oslo and on the White House lawn in the famous handshake known as Land for Peace. Quickly this became Land for Terror, with more Jews killed per annum than at any time in Israeli history. Every promise made by Yasser Arafat was violated, and the terrorism cost Shimon Peres, the Palestinians' best friend, the election.
In the Hebron accords, Arafat sold the same carpet again. But this time his promises were underwritten by the U.S. That's the Note for the Record, and it was supported by a side letter from Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Netanyahu was elected by a Jewish landslide because he promised to put Arafat's feet to the fire on compliance, on reciprocity. The Israelis want peace, but they were surely not going for an unconditional withdrawal from the West Bank. Bibi talked the talk, but he didn't walk the walk. He put out press releases about Arafat's noncompliance, but he did nothing about it. He could have made the same point the day he was elected that he made yesterday.
The Palestinian Authority violated its pledges every way, and nothing happened. I can't begin to detail all these violations in a column. In a nutshell, the Palestinian Authority has done nothing to stop terrorism, and has even refused to wipe out its covenant that continues to promise the end of the Jewish state. Instead, Arafat has put his worst terrorists those he agreed to turn over to Israel in his police force and has used the arms given to him by Israel to kill Jews. The Palestinians, thanks to Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, now have an army of at least 50,000 men.
Israel has abided by its Oslo and Hebron agreements. Yet the Clinton administration says Israel is the obstacle to peace. And Americans for Peace Now pushes Clinton to pressure Israel. This fringe group seems to have convinced him that the only way to save Israel is to establish a Palestinian state. Lies and evasions are their stock-in-trade. They blame Israel for everything while closing their eyes to the fact that the Palestinians use terror as their blackmail card.
Finally, we must ask: "What's America got to gain by pushing a Palestinian state?" After all, no Arab government wants this to happen. They hate the Palestinians. They have expelled them from their territories whenever and wherever possible. In the most egregious line ever promoted by a U.S. government, the Clinton administration blamed its failure to obtain an Arab coalition against Saddam Hussein on Israel.
This was a new definition of shamelessness. The Kuwaitis, whom we saved in the Gulf War, expelled their Palestinians as soon as the war was over, and for good reason: The Palestinians backed Saddam in the war. A few weeks ago, Bill Clinton dissed Netanyahu while welcoming Jordan's King Hussein, America's enemy in the Gulf War, to the White House.
And today Clinton yawns while Israel at long last insists on holding Arafat and America to its marker. Why are these "extremist" Jews acting this way, he wonders? I want to know why Clinton's acting this way.
And what I really want to know is whether Bibi Netanyahu will finally walk the walk, not just talk the talk.