To Arafat’s health

Minister without Portfolio Effie Eitam says that if it were up to him, “Arafat would be dead in 15 minutes, along with all his gang.”

While I identify with Eitam’s unforgivingness toward Arafat, he is totally wrong with regard to Israeli strategy in our battle against the Palestinians and Palestinian statehood.

We need to keep Arafat alive and healthy and in leadership for as long as possible since he is the strongest force in this universe working against Palestinian statehood.

His corrupt, cruel and bloodthirsty Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has led the Palestinians on a downward spiral in international support and turned almost all Israelis against the current drive for Palestinian statehood. The bombing of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, coupled with President Bush’s landmark speech of two weeks ago which ought properly to be understood as a direct result of Sept. 11 have completely reconfigured the Mideast battlefield.

Terrorist regimes, dictatorships and despotic human rights abusers across the Arab Mideast are under fire, with Arafat at the top of the bad guys list.

As long as Arafat continues on his way, Israel has no reason to transfer title in the territories to any Palestinian authority. We are free from international diplomatic pressure to pursue “peace” with those who, at heart, view “peace talks” as an extension of their decades-long war against us; free to continue the quiet strengthening of our civilian presence in Judea and Samaria, and free to use our military judiciously to block terrorism and rebuild our deterrent posture.

To deflect complaints that I am an inveterate warmonger and prefer a hostile neighbor to a peaceful one, let me clarify: In theory I’d be thrilled to split the West Bank for the sake of peace with the Canadians. I just don’t believe the Palestinian public and its leaders, even in a post-Arafat era, are going to make for peaceful, quiet neighbors; not even after a series of cosmetic governmental reforms; not even post-Arafat. Not any time soon.

Of all Arab societies, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, Palestinian society has shown itself to be one of the farthest away from democracy. It is much more realistic to expect that one or two of the Gulf monarchies, or the Hashemite Kingdom, will go democratic over the next decade than to expect the immediate democratization (within three years!) of Palestinian society.

As such, I prefer to hold onto our strategic and historic assets in Judea and Samaria with Arafat’s unintended assistance than to be forced into a false process of negotiations and withdrawals.

As Natan Sharansky has been arguing for years and the audacious, heroic President Bush has now recognized: The democratic way of life and all the nonviolent societal values that go with it are a sine qua non for Mideast peace. Until that day, I don’t want to hear talk about a Palestinian state.

True, Arafat’s rule and his two-year-old intifada have exacted a high price in Israeli lives, along with a high cost to our economy. However, the IDF is now finally taking Arafat’s terrorist infrastructure apart.

Therefore, we need to keep Arafat healthy and in good working order.

WITHOUT AT all meaning to compare the two leaders, a similar argument applies to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Thank God for Peres. Without him to hold Prime Minister’s Sharon’s unity government together and defend Sharon’s military moves around the world, where would we be? We’d be facing civil strife in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and having an even tougher time in international capitals.

Without Peres you can be sure that no other Labor leaders not Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, not Avraham Burg, not Haim Ramon would be sitting in Sharon’s government.

Perhaps this is divine punishment for Peres, the grandfather of the Oslo Accords. For who could have imagined that one day Peres would be serving out his political life by supporting the government that is undoing the damages of those accords?

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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