Before you can use a map to find how to get where you’re going, you first have to find where you are: you orient yourself to the map. Now that President Bush has decided to embrace the tarbaby that is the so-called Middle East “Peace Process,” we have been oriented on the “road map” to peace by three Palestinian terrorist groups that — surprise, surprise — reject it.
Early Sunday, there were two coordinated terrorist attacks in Israel resulting in ten dead: five Israelis and five Palestinians. In one attack, three terrorists attacked an Israeli army post, killing four soldiers before they were killed in turn. This attack proves, far better than any news analysis or intelligence report could, the connection between the terror groups. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade each contributed one member to this combined operation. To accomplish this, the three groups had to keep the same secrets, agree on the plan, and provide whatever resources for intelligence, training and operational support the attack required. They even managed to get together a joint press statement claiming responsibility for the attack. Is there anyone left dumb enough to believe the terrorists aren’t coordinated and connected? (Okay, okay, aside from anyone in Hollywood or currently running for the Dem presidential nomination.)
As we saw on 9-11, terrorism isn’t done on the cheap. We hear endlessly about poverty and the futility of the Palestinian economy, which is mostly true. The Palestinian towns in the West Bank are not somewhere people would aspire to live. So where do the terrorists get the money to finance their operations? This is the real orientation point to the “road map” Mr. Bush has endorsed.
For years, Saddam Hussein paid bounties to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. It ranged upward from the equivalent of $25,000 depending on the number of Israelis killed. That’s enough to support a West Bank family for several years. The fact that Saddam and his sons may still be alive is reason enough to believe that these bounties may continue to be paid.
Many other countries are equally guilty of subsidizing terror. Syria — where these groups have operated openly, and even set up offices in Damascus (which Bashar Assad told Colin Powell would be closed, but haven’t been). Syria has served as terrorist favorite sports bar, where they could hang out, gather intelligence and money, and communicate freely with their other supporters. And it is these other supporters — Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Jordan — that will ensure that the Palestinian peace process is both endless and unsuccessful. Since Israel’s founding, the Palestinians have served as proxies — cannon fodder, really — for the several Arab nations dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
These nations share the goal of destroying Israel. The money that could provide massive economic aid to the Palestinians is instead spent to foment violence. The West Bank and Gaza Strip would look like Beverly Hills by now if the money the Arab nations spend on terror was used instead to help the Palestinians. But the Arab benefactors instead leave them in poverty and the “refugee camps” where they are indoctrinated in hatred and terrorism. If the Palestinians aren’t allowed to envision any road to happiness that doesn’t lead through Tel Aviv, if they cannot be brought to see that terrorism won’t achieve the destruction of Israel, the terror will continue. Which is precisely the result that Israel’s Arab enemies want.
The Arabs are more patient than we, and have an endless supply of oil money. The Israelis are less patient, as those under fire would naturally be. Fifty years of war takes a toll. And that toll is what can finally destroy Israel. Look at Ariel Sharon. Anyone can see the fatigue in his eyes. Israel is grasping at peace because it cannot sustain war on its own soil, amidst its own population, forever. Its enemies know that, and act accordingly. So should its friends.
Silhouetted against this backdrop is Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas — aka Abu Mazen — a longstanding member of Yassir Arafat’s Fatah faction. The Al-Aqsa terrorist group is a part of Fatah. But Abbas, who may actually want peace, is certainly unable to bring it about. His statement after the June 4 Middle East summit called for an end to the armed “intifada” terror campaign that Arafat began almost three years ago. Hamas, Al-Aqsa and Islamic Jihad condemned Abbas’s words and refused peace. Which is just what their non-Palestinian bankers want.
The “road map” will lead in circles, and Mr. Bush’s power in the region will be significantly diminished if he devotes much more to this fatally flawed process. We cannot convince the Palestinian people that they can coexist with Israel unless and until the other Arab states stop funding terror and start helping peace take root. Which isn’t about to happen. At the June 4 Aqaba summit they wouldn’t even state that Israel has the right to exist. Mr. Bush smiled at their platitudes, but he must have been seething inside. Until the Arabs announce their acceptance of Israel as a member of the community, talking with them or pressuring Israel to accede to their demands is not only futile, it’s counter-productive.
Sharon’s — and Israel’s — fatigue is more of a danger to Israel than anything else it faces now. Mr. Bush should reflect on the demand Mr. Sharon made over a year ago: an end to terrorism before peace talks proceed. This must be America’s position. We will not, and we cannot, allow Israel to fall victim to the terrorists’ demands. If the Arab states will not recognize the right of Israel to exist, that is tantamount to promising to continue funding terrorism against it. Their games will continue so long as we let them. It’s high time we put the responsibility for peace where it belongs: squarely on their shoulders. Until we do, peace is not a hope. It’s a delusion.
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