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      Op-Ed: Israel?s Enemies Must Be Laughing

      Published: Monday, August 04, 2003 11:58 PM
      As rough-grooved as the Road Map to Peace is, a few detours have made its path even rougher. The first and most important obligation the Palestinian Authority had to accept in order for Israel to agree to the Road Map was the commitment to crack down on Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Regrettably, not only has Abu Mazen sidestepped this obligation, but he also has managed to convince Presid


      As rough-grooved as the Road Map to Peace is, a few detours have made its path even rougher. The first and most important obligation the Palestinian Authority had to accept in order for Israel to agree to the Road Map was the commitment to crack down on Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Regrettably, not only has Abu Mazen sidestepped this obligation, but he also has managed to convince President Bush that Israel should release more Palestinian prisoners.

      Abu Mazen did this by securing a conditional temporary cease-fire between the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah terror organizations and Israel. The conditions for the cease-fire include: Israel withdrawing from Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, ending targeted killing of wanted terrorists and releasing all the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

      I?m not quite sure how this qualifies as cracking down on terrorism. Of course, no sane person could accept this deal. Guess what? Israel has already begun releasing prisoners. Prime Minister Sharon says none of the prisoners on his release list have blood on their hands.

      This temporary cease-fire, or hudna, is a gamble against all odds. The words ?temporary? and ?3-month? should be enough to make Israel skeptical of the deal. As US House Majority Speaker Tom DeLay said, murderers on a 90-day vacation are still murderers. Even Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, who both made far-reaching concessions to the Palestinian Authority, have been critical of the speed and carelessness of Ariel Sharon?s handling of the Road Map.

      Almost three years have passed since PA chairman Yasser Arafat turned down Barak?s more than generous offer at Camp David. Arafat could have had a Palestinian state on nearly all the land Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 as well as in the Gaza Strip. There was even a compromise on the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, something almost no one in Israel could have imagined being negotiable. Instead of jumping at the offer, Arafat abandoned the peace process, leaving both President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak dumbfounded.

      Not long after the ill-fated Camp David meeting, the Palestinians declared an intifada - a violent uprising against Israel. Arafat, being the king of PR, has consistently condemned each terror attack in the foreign media. His reason has always been because of the harm it causes to the national interests of the Palestinian people (not because blowing up children is immoral). At the same time, Arafat appears in the Arab media shouting, ?Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!? Yes, that is a direct quote.

      Once again, Israel is embracing the hope of peace with the Palestinian Authority. Not only has Israel released Palestinian prisoners, but they have also uprooted a number of inhabited Jewish outposts on land the Sharon government may decide to trade for peace.

      Among the prisoners Israel has released is Ahmed Jbarra. Jbarra is a terrorist who served 28 years of a life sentence for setting off a bomb in Jerusalem in which 14 people were murdered and scores wounded. Upon being released from prison, Jbarra traveled directly to Ramallah to meet with Yasser Arafat.

      Okay, so Arafat has been declared irrelevant; however, a week after Jbarra?s release, there was a photo in the Israeli newspapers of PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen posing with Jbarra. A few days later, the Palestinian Authority announced that Arafat decided to appoint Jbarra as his special adviser for prisoners' affairs.

      Now, Jbarra has appeared once again in all the Israeli newspapers. This time, the new Palestinian Authority minister was quoted saying that Palestinians should abduct Israeli soldiers and citizens whenever possible. Despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority is still the root of incitement, Israel is continuing to move forward with the implementation of the Road Map to Peace.

      If Abu Mazen were serious about peace, he would declare terrorism a crime punishable by imprisonment (prisons without revolving doors). Temporary truces or hudnas don?t count. The terrorists know Israel could never agree to release all of the prisoners. We are talking about a number of mass murderers who have not even expressed remorse for their actions. When Prime Minister Sharon declares that he has released all the prisoners he can release, the terrorists will accuse Israel of violating the terms of the cease-fire and return to the volume of pre-hudna terror against Israel.

      Besides, if the terrorists abandon the cease-fire, will the released prisoners agree to return to the Israeli prisons?

      Why are we even talking about a cease-fire? Terrorism is cold-blooded murder.

      But the terrorists say, ?Don?t we have a right to resist the occupation of our land?? No, they do not have a right to resist. If the Palestinians wanted a land to call their own, they would have accepted Barak?s offer, and they would be living in peace with their Israeli cousins. The terrorists chose death rather than an independent Palestinian state.

      Every civilized society has laws that prohibit the indiscriminate murder of civilians. How can you call blowing up a busload of schoolchildren moral?

      I have always wanted to hear the media ask Arafat to define what he calls a ?civilian?. Senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Rantissi has said that he can condone killing Israeli children because one needs to attack an enemy any way possible. To the terrorists, no Jew is a civilian.

      Terrorists in Gaza are taking advantage of the hudna by setting up camps to train more efficient suicide bombers and produce deadlier bombs. The Palestinian Authority allows these terrorist camps to operate without interference. Yet, President Bush calls Abu Mazen a man of peace.

      Once again, Israel has succumbed to foreign pressure. Prime Minister Sharon continues to implement the Road Map without any solid reciprocation from the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority is taking advantage of Western naivete and strong Western beliefs in liberal democracy to manipulate the Quartet and their allies. The world fails to see that liberal democracy has no roots in Arab culture.

      There is no doubt about it, Israel?s enemies must be laughing.