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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 08, 2003

ISRAEL, WAITING IN AGONY

Telling it like it is:

January 8, 2003 -- Israel launched a muted response to Sunday's bloody terrorist outrage in Tel Aviv, which killed 22 people and injured more than 100 others.
That response no doubt reflects Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's desire not to complicate the Bush administration's virtually certain march toward military action against Iraq. "For the time being," said Israeli Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, "we have to get through the Iraq crisis - and after that maybe get to more far-reaching steps."

Unfortunately, for now this leaves Israel in a dangerous no-win situation - one terrorists gladly exploit.

The double suicide bombing was hardly a routine incident: It was the third-deadliest attack against Israel since the signing of the Oslo Accords (which promised an end to Palestinian terrorism) a decade ago.

Yasser Arafat claims he can't control groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad or even the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to his own Fatah faction and which claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombings.

Lying, of course, is one of the least heinous deeds committed by the Palestinian terrorist-in-chief. But, in any event, he certainly hasn't lifted a finger to discourage such acts of murder.

All the more appropriate, then, that Sharon's government barred a delegation of Palestinian officials from attending an upcoming conference in London aimed at discussing potential reform of Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw swiftly criticized the Israeli move - but his concern is misguided.

As Straw's Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, argued, "The Palestinian leadership does not need to meet abroad in order to close down suicide kindergarten camps, to stop incitement to murder and to fight terrorism. They can do so in Ramallah, right here and now."

Netanyahu is correct, of course; besides, it's hard to understand how any meaningful reform of Arafat's Palestinian Authority can be negotiated with Arafat's own hand-picked delegates.

Since taking office, Sharon has held fast to principle: He won't negotiate while terrorism continues. Sadly, that hasn't stopped the terror. But it may finally be convincing the average Palestinian that terrorism won't pay political dividends.