As a follow up to my previous dispatch titled Israel seizes massive haul of weapons (January 4, 2002), I attach a strongly worded editorial from the New York Post, which is almost the only newspaper in the world that provides an alternative point of view about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
-- Tom Gross
Arafat's Smoking Guns
The New York Post
January 5, 2002
Israel's capture of a Palestinian Authority ship loaded with 50 tons of sophisticated Iranian weapons has no doubt saved countless lives, and averted a dangerous escalation of the war against the Jewish state.
But the shipment exposed yet again the true aim of the PA and its leader, Yasser Arafat: the annihilation of Israel.
According to Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the ship was carrying long-range Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars, mines, advanced explosive equipment, sniper rifles, ammunition and other weaponry.
"If warfare equipment of this kind had reached the hands of terrorists... it may have dramatically altered the security of... the state of Israel... and drastically increased the terror activity against us," Mofaz said.
He linked the arms directly to Arafat: The ship was owned by the PA, and its captain and several officers were members of the Palestinian naval police.
The link, of course, is no surprise. Rather, the operation typifies Arafat's modus operandi: Talk peace, sometimes even take a few (reversible) steps to curb terror – and all the while secretly plot the next wave of attacks.
Indeed, the intifada that's raged for the past 16 months was being planned even as Arafat was meeting with Israel's then-prime minister, Ehud Barak, and President Clinton at the Camp David summit in July 2000.
Does anyone still believe that Arafat can be trusted and should be treated as a legitimate negotiating partner?
Apparently, President Bush does.
True, so far Bush has had enough sense not to meet with the PA terror-chief personally. But the president continues to dispatch emissaries to the region to talk with officials from both the Israeli and Palestinian camps, including Arafat – often with embarrassing results.
Bush's latest envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, met separately yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and with Arafat.
The last time Zinni tried to curb the violence, in November, the Palestinians unleashed attacks that left dozens of Israelis dead and scores injured – and sent Zinni scurrying back to Washington, further from peace than before he arrived.
So wish him luck this time 'round.
But even if Zinni manages to get Arafat's word (on anything), what good is it? As the arms-smuggling caper shows, what Arafat says tells nothing about what he's doing. So far, he has yet to show any sincere interest in peace.
If Bush and Zinni really want to rout terror, they should use Israel like they did the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan – and encourage the IDF to drain another "swamp of terror."
Arafat and all.