WASHINGTON--What does it take for the world to acknowledge the obvious truth that Yasser Arafat has no intention of making real peace? How much incontrovertible evidence is required before one admits that the Oslo ``peace'' was a fraud and a deception? Are 50 tons of smuggled weaponry insufficient to demonstrate that the truce the United States is seeking to establish would be nothing more than a breathing space for Arafat and the terrorists he supports to rearm, regroup and prepare for the next, more explosive phase of the war he began on Sept. 28, 2000?
The weapons were on the ship Israel intercepted en route from Iran to Gaza. The ship's captain has been a member of Arafat's Fatah for 25 years. He is an officer in the Palestinian navy. His ship was purchased by the Palestinian Authority. His instructions came from Arafat's arms paymaster.
Arafat is shocked--shocked!--by these revelations. Comically, he has ordered an investigation. This will rival Hitler's investigation of the Reichstag fire. Palestine is a nasty police state where if you make a sideways crack about Arafat in the men's room of the local cafe, you find yourself arrested within hours by one of Arafat's eight separate security forces. To believe that a $100-million arms shipment could have been made on anything less than Arafat's orders is to know nothing about the Palestinian revolution.
The ship's cargo is a candy store of terror. Two tons of explosives. Countless machine guns. Fourteen-hundred mortars. And dozens of Katyusha rockets, the quintessential weapon of terror: They go 12 miles and have no accuracy, perfect for random killing in Tel Aviv.
Arafat's strategy is crystal clear. After Sept. 11, after the American rout of the Taliban, after the Dec. 1-2 terror bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa, he came under enormous international pressure to restrain the violence.
So, he orders his terrorist allies to cool it. Temporarily. (Hamas announced it was suspending suicide bombing ``until further notice''). He lies low, plays nice, tries to sucker the Americans with a few low-level arrests. Meanwhile, he leaves the entire Hamas infrastructure intact and orders $100 million worth of weapons--obvious preparation for war, later.
This is plain as day. Yet the State Department professes puzzlement. ``We have told him (Arafat) we need a full explanation.''
Need a full explanation? I can save State the time and the translator's fees. Arafat is embarked on a strategy of war--and has been ever since he signed the September 1993 Oslo ``peace'' accords on the White House lawn. Don't take it from me. Take it from the mouth of one of the leading Palestinian moderates, Faisal Husseini. Shortly before his fatal heart attack last year, he openly admitted that Oslo was ``a Trojan Horse ... just a temporary procedure ... just a step towards something bigger.''
That something bigger is ``Palestine from the river to the sea,'' Husseini said, i.e., from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. That means eradicating Israel. Oslo? Just a way of ``ambushing the Israelis and cheating them.'' How? Oslo gave the PLO an army, autonomy, money and territory--the perfect base from which to fight for the ultimate eradication of Israel.
There is nothing new here. This strategy has been the declared PLO position ever since it adopted the ``Phased Plan'' in Cairo in 1974. Phase 1: accept any territory offered of whatever size within Palestine. Phase 2: make it the forward base for the war to destroy Israel.
Our refusal to acknowledge this overwhelmingly obvious strategy is one of the great acts of self-delusion in diplomatic history. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says that he hopes the weapons ship incident will not scuttle peace talks. The peace efforts, says a U.S. official, will not be derailed. ``The Zinni mission will continue, ship or no ship.''
This is madness. The ship is not an incident. The ship is not an accident. The ship is an announcement, inadvertent and therefore indisputable, of Arafat's duplicitous intentions: a temporary truce--as he girds for war, a far wider, deadlier, more explosive war.
What to do? Dare to face the truth. Arafat is not a peace partner. Any truce Gen. Zinni gets him to sign will have the same durability as the dozens of truces Arafat signed while destroying Lebanon in the 1970s.
If we want peace, Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have to
go. They must be de-legitimized, de-recognized, de-funded by the United States. And by Europe. And if that does not bring them down, Israel should be allowed to go in and do the job itself.