Surely by now it's abundantly clear to anyone not suffering from acute denial or committed to the destruction of Israel that Yasser Arafat has no intention of making peace. Neither can he be persuaded to stop the terrorist acts committed by Palestinians. That's because the "suicide bombings," which are described as "martyrdom" by the people who perform them and by the recruiters who delude young men into wasting their lives, are not exceptions to a wounded "peace process." They are key elements in a strategy of all-out war that is deliberate, premeditated and carried out by Arafat and dozens of terror groups and cells going by various names, and no names, throughout the Mideast and the world.
Before leaving for Washington and a meeting with President Bush last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at his weekly Cabinet meeting Feb. 3 that five goals must be met before Israel again engages in diplomatic negotiations with Arafat: 1) genuine arrests, interrogations and trials of Palestinian terrorists; 2) The dismantling of Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Tanzim and those elements of Presidential Guard (Force 17) which regularly engage in terrorism; 3) The collection of weapons held by the Palestinian terrorist groups, their delivery to the Americans, removal to territory outside the control of the Palestinian Authority, and their destruction; 4) Serious counter-terrorism operations; and 5) The cessation of incitement to violence by Palestinian leaders.
None of this will happen, however, because it is the express purpose and policy of Arafat and the terrorist groups (and most Arab states) to eliminate Israel and eradicate as many Jews as possible from the region. They say so in their words and prove so by their actions.
One week after Arafat wrote a New York Times op-ed piece in which he said he opposed terror, there was a new escalation of Palestinian terror inside Israel. Arafat says one thing for Western consumption and something quite different to his supporters.
On Feb. 7, Arafat addressed a crowd in Ramallah. He said, "We will make the lives of the infidels Hell millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem." Israel Television Channel 2 correspondent Ehud Yaari notes that Arafat has a daily routine in which he first meets with Europeans and Israeli leftists, talking to them about his "commitment to peace, and then he conducts a rally to incite people for battle."
One of many examples of Arafat's duplicity came when, in a letter to President Bush, Arafat finally took responsibility for the Karine A ship, loaded with weapons, that was intercepted Jan. 3 by Israel before it could reach Gaza. Arafat promised the president he would punish those responsible for the incident. A few days after sending the letter, Arafat said in an interview with his own Palestinian News Agency, "the PNA (Palestine National Authority) had absolutely nothing to do with Karine A." One wonders why Arafat would tell Bush he'd go after Palestinian officials responsible for the illegal arms shipment if the PNA had "absolutely nothing" to do with it.
Given an opportunity to condemn an incident earlier this month in which the first known female suicide bomber killed one man and wounded 150 on Jerusalem's busiest street, Arafat told MSNBC: "Don't we have a right to resist occupation?" In fact, the ritual condemnations of terrorism by Arafat have virtually ceased, probably because the killings of civilians are now so frequent that it's difficult to keep up.
On Jan. 26, Gaza Palestine Satellite Channel Television broadcast a story about a Palestinian delegation from Hebron that visited Arafat. Arafat spoke to the group, leading them in a chant, "With our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine." Then Arafat repeatedly chanted (and the crowd joined in), "Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad!"
Last Sunday, two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in Beersheba, killing two women and seriously wounding five people. Israeli soldiers killed the gunmen.
Anyone interested in peace and co-existence in the region would be talking about elections, a new and peaceful state, economic opportunities and education not "jihad," martyrdom and blood.
The Bush administration is properly calling on Arafat to halt Palestinian terrorism. He won't because his policy is not to make peace, but to make war. That's because his objective is not a peaceful Palestinian state co-existing with Israel, but a Palestinian state and no Israel.
Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.