Considering that the President is aware that I strongly disagree with his position toward Israel, it was a huge surprise when the President invited me to accompany him on his coming trip to Israel and the Gaza Strip. He knows that I have spoken out most critically of his favoritism of the Palestinians in the current and ongoing negotiations before, during, and after the Wye Agreement.
If I accepted and accompanied him, how would it look? How would my presence be perceived? Would it look to others who believe as I do that the President has consistently taken the Palestinian side that I had sold out? Or, maybe, just maybe, was there a productive roll for me to play? After all, it certainly would give me a forum to discuss with the public my differences with the President’s position.
For example, on the issue of the administration’s proposal to provide an additional $400 million in aid to the Palestinians, I could point out that contrary to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s statement that “every dollar of U.S. aid (to the Palestinians) is accounted for and is completely transparent,” the PA itself estimates that 40% of the PA’s annual budget had been stolen, wasted, or misused. I could have noted the Task Force’s study of the ‘PECDAR Papers’ that proved gross embezzlement and misuse of foreign aid on Arafat’s own order. And further that our General Accounting office said it was “unable to independently verify the PA’s financial condition since that organization was unwilling to provide us with requested accounting reports and supporting documentation.”
And, on the issue of the removal of the lethal phrases concerning Israel from the Palestinian National Covenant, I could point out to the President’s press corps that the PA has an unblemished track record of organizing events with the declared intention to address the covenant issue and always with the end result of leaving the covenant unchanged. Moreover, I could have raised other pertinent questions such as the illegal size of the so-called “police” forces Arafat had built; the types of weapons they have; their cooperation with terrorist organizations; their dismal failure to suppress Islamist terrorists even though the PA-controlled areas have one of the world’s largest ratios of police/security personnel per citizen.
I could have asked the President to rationalize his belief in the “peace process” in view of the ongoing anti-Israeli legislation by the PA such as the death penalty for holding/owning land the intensifying, virulent, anti-Semitic incitement in the PA-controlled media that makes genuine reconciliation with Israelis virtually impossible. I would have sought explanations of how can anybody trust an agreement compared to the Treaty of Hudaibiya enacted by the Prophet Muhammad, in which a treaty lasts as long as political expediency dictates, or trust Yassir Arafat after he repeatedly reiterated the enduring validity of the “Phased Plan” of July 1974 the PLO’s long- term plan to destroy Israel in the context of accepting a Palestinian state in the territories.
And I could have asked the President when will the killers of the two US diplomats Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr. and Curt Moore including Yassir Arafat who personally gave the order be finally brought to justice. Oh, and of course, I could point out that for many reasons it is clear for everyone that the real motivation for the administration’s interest in the Middle East has little to do with peace in the region and a lot to do with the President’s problems here at home.
And still the invitation had been extended and now, at 4:30 pm on Friday, December 4, I had accepted. What an interesting few days I will have next weekend. What a great opportunity to tell what I really believe to the American people, I thought.
Oh, but for short lived opportunities. By the next morning, Saturday at 930 am, the President withdrew the invitation. I should have known that you have to get up extremely early in the morning to beat the spin of this President.
Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ) is Chairman, The Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare U.S. House of Representatives