A decade after the Oslo peace accords, the new Middle East “solution” being floated is the expulsion of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat—but that discussion misses the point. The debate should not be whether or not to kick out the master terrorist, but whether he should be locked up in complete isolation or simply killed.
Yasser Arafat has had 10 years to stop the torrent of terror attacks that continue to claim the lives of innocent Israelis (and Americans) to this very day. He hasn’t. In fact, he hasn’t even tried.
But why should he risk a civil war and tumult within his own “mainstream” Fatah by actually clamping down on the terrorists? Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon long ago promised the United States that he would not harm Arafat. At least to this point, Arafat hasn’t even faced the threat of being kicked out of the West Bank.
Let’s assume for a moment, though, that the current talk of possible expulsion becomes a reality. Arafat might have a tricky time finding a new home—Syria and Jordan wouldn’t want him, and his old friend Saddam no longer has a country—but once he does, he has untold sums in numbered bank accounts that would cushion his fall.
As long as Arafat is in the picture, things can only get worse. Now-departed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas proved a miserable—and inept—failure. He couldn’t even consolidate control over the security services; Abbas’ longtime boss decided against relinquishing the reins of the real power. International pressure may have been enough to force Arafat to name Abbas as Prime Minister, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him from acting as Abbas’ puppetmaster.
The only path to peace is one paved with the complete removal of Arafat from the Palestinian equation. His mere presence dominates; he is incapable of playing a supporting role or becoming a marginalized outcast.
If he is in a foreign land, he will simply use his money and his left-behind thugs to maintain his heavy hand. Trapped in his Ramallah compound, as he is now, may have hobbled him politically, but it has not even affected him operationally. With a cell phone in his hand and his lieutenants dotting the landscape, he is able to conduct or allow terrorist attacks just as he always has.
That’s why killing Arafat must at least be discussed. It is not the only option—or maybe even the right one—but it has to be a potential one.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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