Forwarded from Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio [ April 18, 1997]

BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Yedidya Atlas


Once again, Dennis Ross, US special envoy to the Mideast Peace Process has come to Israel. But Mr. Ross was not sent to the region to determine if PA Chairman Arafat no longer views violence and terrorism as legitimate negotiating tools, but rather to see if a face-saving formula can be devised to allow Mr. Arafat to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the peace process can continue as before.

From the Clinton administration's perspective, this means: the Palestinians continue to violate the Oslo accords with impunity, and Israel is expected to make concrete unilateral concessions as "confidence building measures." However, as noted last week by The New York Post (April 4, 1997) in its lead editorial, "Oslo helped elevate the [PLO] group in the eyes of many from a terror organization to a legitimate governing authority. But Arafat has not worn well this new mantle of legitimacy. He insists that the violence will not stop until Israel halts its construction...in Jerusalem."

Interestingly, senior members of Congress are increasingly up in arms over the Clinton administration's apparently deliberate obtuseness where Yasser Arafat and terrorism is concerned. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), for example, wrote to President Clinton on March 26, 1997, that "Arafat must finally understand that he cannot maintain good relations with the United States if he continues to wink and nod at terrorists while negotiating with Israel."

Nevertheless, Mr. Clinton persists in ignoring Mr. Arafat's culpability, and administration officials continue to imply that Jewish construction is not only equitable with Palestinian terrorism, but it is a reasonable rationale for Arabs to murder Jews. After the two failed suicide bombings which targeted school buses carrying Jewish children in Gush Katif, Arafat, in one of his more blantant lies, openly blamed Israeli soldiers for carrying out the attack. Despite the overwhelming amount of physical evidence and on-site independent documentation that the two bombers came from their Gaza base in Palestinian Authority territory, and passed through a Palestinian police checkpoint into Israeli territory, the Clinton administration has thus far failed to react to Arafat's incredibly forked-tongue.

Even The Washington Post exposed Arafat's lie in its coverage of the incident, so Mr. Clinton cannot claim ignorance of Arafat's willful lying. The Post, of course, related that "Arafat and his lieutenants promoted a radically different account of the Gaza explosions. They said the second of the two incidents...was not a suicide bombing, but an unprovoked Israeli attack on innocent Palestinians." But then The Post story continues: "Interviewed this morning outside the first bombing scene..., Palestinian

Maj.-Gen. Abdul Razeq Majaideh told Washington Post special correspondent Saud Abu Ramadan that two Palestinian men 'wearing military uniforms, and carrying on their bodies about five kilograms of explosives each, blew themselves up' in nearly simultaneous explosions at about 7 A.M. Brig. Gen.

Saeb Ajez, the Palestinian commander of northern Gaza, gave a similar account at the scene." And in the next paragraph it reads: "Both men ceased speaking publicly after Arafat's version was transmitted by the Palestinian press agency, Wafa, and broadcast on Voice of Palestine radio."

Of course, initially, the Islamic Jihad spokesman toed the Arafat line. However, the next day, members of the organization's military branch distributed a poster in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria sharply criticizing the organization's leadership which refused to claim responsibility for the bombings. The leaders of the Islamic Jihad's military branch claimed that the organization's political spokesmen knew perfectly well that the two bombers were members of the organization, but were forced by the Palestinian Authority to blame Israel for the attacks.

Mr. Ross' pre-Passover sojourn to the Holy Land with its almost business-as-usual attitude leads one to conclude that the Clinton administration is more interested in the process than in the peace. Congressman Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, stated recently:

"...Regrettably, his [Arafat's] recent meeting with Hamas leaders and the subsequent release of a Hamas terrorist only serves to send the wrong signal....It is time for Mr. Arafat to implement the commitments he made in the Oslo Accords." For Mr. Gilman, and his congressional colleagues the documented facts are self-evident. Sadly, for Mr. Clinton, at best, they are not.

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Yedidya Atlas is a Senior Correspondent for Arutz-7 Radio, and comments on geopolitical and geostrategic affairs in the Middle East. Atlas is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Freeman Center.


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