Charles Krauthammer

     There was no Israeli flag flying during the last summit involving Israel's (then) prime minister and pathetic peace mendicant, Ehud Barak, when he came begging Arafat to make peace with him shortly before a disgusted Israeli public could vote him out of office.

     Was not Barak the good guy? And Sharon the tough guy? Surprise. Arabs respect toughness. Sharon launched a massive invasion of the Palestinian territories after the Passover massacre of 2002. Western experts and the media were practically unanimous that this would achieve nothing.

     Completely wrong. In fact, it is precisely Israel's aggressive counterattack against Palestinian terrorists, coupled with the defensive fence (which has prevented practically all suicide attacks wherever it has been built) that has brought us to this point of hope.

     As the fence is extended, the Palestinians see the strategic option of terror gradually disappearing. Moreover, Israel's successful military offensive demonstrated to the Palestinians that the premise of the second intifada -- that a demoralized and terrorized Israel would essentially surrender -- is false.

     Will they not try another intifada in the future? They might. But now they know what they did not know four years ago. The cost will be enormous. And the Israelis do not break.

     The second intifada was fought under the old land-for-peace slogan: The terrorism would only stop when Israel agreed to full territorial withdrawal to the 1949 lines, a Palestinian state, Jerusalem as the capital, and God knows what else. The Palestinians got none of this. They got death and destruction instead. What do the Palestinians now demand from Israel in return for a cease-fire? That Sharon stop hunting down and killing terrorist leaders. Not land for peace. Peace for peace.

     Sharon agreed. And now a tenuous truce has begun. Of course, at some point Hamas and the other terror groups will surely try to destroy the cease-fire. It could happen tomorrow. At that point Abbas -- and the Palestinians as a national community -- will have to decide whether to take them on. If they do, they will have their state. If they don't, they are back on the roadmap to ruin.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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