After the Roadmap


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FRIZ
December 24, 2003, 12:02 AM
National Review
December 22, 2003

After the Roadmap
By Lenny Ben-David

Palestinians are heading to "prehistoric" times.

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/ben-david200312220001.asp

Looking back at the ten years of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, there were many historic events that captured the world's hopes and attention: the White House handshake, the Interim Agreement signing in Cairo, the Wye River Accord signed in the White House with the dying King Hussein in attendance, Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, the beginning of joint Palestinian-Israeli security patrols, and the launch of multilateral talks on issues of water, environment, refugees, and economics.

All were indeed historic events; tragically, all were predicated on false Palestinian promises, Arafatian tricks, and American and Israeli delusions. I attended the Cairo signing in May 1994 and was one of the many incredulous observers when Yasser Arafat "forgot" to sign one of the agreements. We witnessed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak explode and demand that Arafat sign it, adding to his demand, "Ya kalb!" ("You dog!").

When Arafat rode into Gaza from Egypt for the first time in July 1994 — another great "moment" in modern history — Israeli intelligence officers noted how low the car was riding and how high up in the seat Arafat was sitting. Crammed into the Mercedes with (and under) Arafat were contraband weapons and terrorist operatives who were banned from entering the Palestinian territories. Israeli security sources also believe Arafat smuggled weaponry in his private jet after the Gaza airport opened with much media hoopla.

When Arafat accepted President Clinton's invitation to the Camp David negotiations in 2000, none of the American or Israeli negotiators anticipated him throwing agreement-busting demands of the right of Palestinian refugees' return to Israel and Israel's total surrender of Judaism's holiest sites in Jerusalem. Clinton was flabbergasted when Arafat denied that Jewish temples ever existed in Jerusalem.

In 1999, while serving as an Israeli diplomat in Washington, I was challenged publicly by a senior U.S. State Department official who rejected my charge that the Palestinian Authority was releasing Palestinian terrorists and murderers from jail. Subsequently, the world learned that the PA was not only releasing them but, in some cases, and under Arafat's orders, actually funding them and their terrorist organizations.

The photogenic joint-security patrols ended when Palestinian soldiers turned their guns on their Israeli patrol partners. The multilateral talks collapsed when Palestinians refused to attend. And Israel's withdrawals from Palestinian cities were reversed when the Israeli army was forced to reenter those areas to destroy terrorist bases and bomb factories.

Yasser Arafat has spoiled, poisoned, corrupted, and undermined every peace proposal presented over the last decade. Every envoy tasked with advancing the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in recent years — George Mitchell, Anthony Zinni, and most recently John Wolf — have all returned home empty-handed. No wonder the late King Hussein of Jordan said of Arafat, "He never came to a bridge he didn't double-cross."

A sober and realistic look at the state of Palestinian-Israeli relations leads to the conclusion that perhaps it is time to return to "prehistoric" days, a time prior to the exciting photo-ops and masturbatory diplomacy (the feel-good, unproductive, and errant attempts at peacemaking).

What is "prehistoric" Palestine? Who ruled the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza prior to the Oslo Accords and Arafat, and under what conditions?

Israel. From the 1967 Six Day War until Arafat's arrival in 1994, Israel's Civil Administration ran the Palestinian territories. Attached to the Israeli defense ministry, the Civil Administration strove to turn much of the daily functioning of life in the Palestinian territories over to Palestinian civil servants. "Autonomy" was the goal, first suggested by Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin in 1978. Officials from Israel's ministries worked with their Palestinian counterparts, so that educational or agricultural experts from Israeli ministries assisted their colleagues. Palestinian doctors and nurses attended ulpan to learn Hebrew so that they could take advanced courses in Israeli hospitals. Palestinian sick frequented Israeli hospitals at the Civil Administration's expense.

That relationship will never return. As enlightened as Israel's administration was, it was viewed by the Palestinians as occupation. Moreover, in light of three years of warfare, Israelis' level of trust of the Palestinians is in overdraft, making such close Israeli-Palestinian cooperation a thing of the past. Israel's economy, devastated by three years of war and the flight of investors and tourists, will not take on the financial burden of administering to the Palestinians again. International largesse, which has kept Palestinian society afloat and Arafat's pockets filled, will not be offered to Israel for aiding the Palestinians.

Still, as long as Arafat runs his mafia state, Israel's army will remain on guard around Arab towns but will allow international aid to the Palestinians.

Jordan and Egypt. Between 1949 and 1967, Egypt controlled Gaza with an iron fist, and Jordan administered the West Bank, an area that it had annexed illegally in 1951. Palestinian nationalism was still in its infancy, and both territories were run like backwater satrapies.

Egypt and Jordan have much to offer as an alternative to Arafat and to Israel's administration of the territories. They both have peace treaties with Israel (although Egypt's behavior borders on belligerence). They both have established and relatively uncorrupt civil servants who could assist the Palestinians in establishing a functioning government. Both countries know Arafat all too well, and they know how to quell terrorism: ruthlessly. Not only do they speak Arabic, but they share with the Palestinians a religion, a way of life, and a way of thinking that Israelis will never fully comprehend. Jordanian and Egyptian police could help restore order on Palestinian streets where local gangs and chaos now rule.

It is unlikely that Palestinians would welcome with open arms a return to "prehistoric" times under Jordanian and Egyptian rule. Jordan's Hashemite troops reportedly killed as many as 20,000 Palestinians during Arafat's attempted Black September coup in 1970. Nevertheless, perhaps the Palestinians would accept their "brethren" if their presence were temporary and if it was the only alternative for moving the Israel army (and Arafat's thugs) out.

Britain. Palestine — Jewish and Arab — was controlled by the British between 1917 and 1948, and both Arabs and Jews made life hell for the Brits. Instead of the British, however, there has been recent discussion of bringing in international troops — from NATO or the United Nations — to serve as an international intervention force or a buffer between Israel and the Palestinians. Another version would establish a trusteeship, led by the United States, for the Palestinian territories.

Forget about it. International forces are anathema to Israel. Considering how the United Nations routinely gangs up on Israel and how worthless U.N. troops have been in keeping PLO and Hezbollah terrorists away from Israel's northern border, Israel will never accept such a force. For the Palestinians, such a force and/or trusteeship would be seen as one occupier replacing another. An international force would also be a lightening rod for all of the jihadist factions attacking the Western presence across the Middle East.

One more alternative remains: for the Palestinian people to rule themselves. It is a long shot, and it could be achieved only if Arafat were somehow removed from the picture, along with the hundreds of PLO thugs and apparatchiks he brought with him from Tunisia and the thousands of soldiers from Palestine Liberation Army contingents based in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Jordan, Algeria, and Iraq. They are all from the Palestinians' prehistoric times. They are the flesh-eating dinosaurs who know only the methods of terror and who feed on the flesh of innocents, including that of their own people.

A native Palestinian society that experienced life next-door to Israel may still exist, a society of bourgeois businessmen, educators trained in Western schools, journalists who published uncensored newspapers using Israeli presses, and the simple construction workers and fruit pickers who brought home from Israel a daily wage. They could perhaps one day propel themselves into better times — back to the future. They have extensive international assistance, and they are probably better-positioned and -educated than the Iraqi people to build a semi-democratic society. But unlike the Iraqi people, their progress is blocked by a despot.

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