The Prime Minister today told Arafat – in a media oriented demonstration of supposed strength – after scores of innocents were killed and wounded – that he must bring a connection between what he says and what he does. Look who is talking.
In the past months there were several failed attempted attacks. Some were thwarted, some discovered in time, but the Israeli government was not alarmed by the attacks which almost occurred.
Since Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement in September ’95, he has violated its every section: He incites to terror, helps Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue their attacks (as long as they take place outside the territory of the Palestinian Authority) and at the very same time with unbelievable gall blames the GSS [General Security Service] and IDF [Israel Defense Forces] with carrying out the attacks against Israel.
The Labor leadership did not have the will to admit their historic mistake. Instead of this they covered for the PLO, in the baseless hope that this will cause it to change.
Peres even changed the failure to an ideology: “The trick is not to denigrate the PLO”, he tended to claim (as if insisting on our survival was a denigration of the PLO), “the trick is to make them a partner.”
Peres didn’t change Arafat into a partner, but the government lost as a result of the February-March ’96 attacks.
The Likud promised a total revision of this policy, but followed exactly the same path. Netanyahu covered for the PLO in every possible way. He even forbade his aides from publicizing the violations of the agreement by the PLO for many months. He talked about “reciprocity” and did the opposite. He signed the Hebron Agreement without the Palestinian Charter being amended, without Arafat stopping the incitement to jihad and without the extradition of a single terrorist murderer.
It is not only that the PLO didn’t take measures agaisnt the Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he released 120 of the most dangerous terrorists and didn’t honor Israeli and American requests that he arrest them again. And the Israeli government remained silent.
When PLO soldiers murdered 16 IDF soldiers in September ’96 Netanyahu and Mordechai forgave the blood of their soldiers and the PM called Arafat in Washington his “friend and partner.” The entire security system knows that the Palestinian Authority smuggles automatic weapons, but the government remains silent.
Information about the “laboratory” in Beit Sahour, where armed bombs were discovered, was given to the PLO months ago, but they didn’t do anything. And the government remained silent. And recently, only days ago, it became clear that the commander of the Palestinian Police, an Arafat loyalist, personally prepared a murder squad of Palestinian police, with a stolen car and weapons. They carried out one attack and were caught on the second. But the Israeli government protested with a weak voice and went silent. And while PLO officials deny responsibility and the charges, our Foreign Minister promises that the PLO will “conclude the investigation.”
The Prime Minister, instead of taking actions against the PLO, took pride only yesterday that he, unlike the Labor government, succeeded in stopping the terror. But he who calls Arafat a partner also when he acts as an enemy, has coming to him what happened to the Labor government. The same policy yields the same results.
Yigal Carmon served as the advisor on counterterrorism in the office of the Israel Prime Minister, 1988-1993
This article orginally appeared in the Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, on July 31, 1997 and was translated by Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)