DEBKAfile, 30 November 2001
"Arafat’s Joke on American Truce-Making -- Since the new US mediator, retired Marines general Anthony Zinni, arrived Monday, November 26, on his open-ended mission to bring about a Palestinian-Israel ceasefire, the Palestinians have stepped up their campaign of terror against Israelis everywhere. The steep upward graph is sharp and plain to see: Seven Israelis killed and more than 50 injured in half a dozen deadly strikes, mostly inside Israel, in the three days since Zinni and Secretary of State for the Near East, William Burns, landed.
Even before they arrived, it was enough for US Secretary of State Colin Powell to launch the Zinni mission in his 'vision' speech at Louisville Kentucky, on November 19, for a murky cloud of Palestinian mortars and rockets to descend on Israeli villages, buses, roads, schools and other favorite Palestinian targets.
Israelis have stopped asking which organization was responsible for any particular atrocity, Hamas, Jihad Islami, Hamas, Force 17. It does not really matter. They are all in it together and the same hand steers them all. For the surrounding Arab world, Arafat’s order to step up his terror offensive against Israel in the sight of a senior US mediation mission, is laudatory, shows the American superpower where it gets off. [Emphasis added]
It is the Arab street that concerns the Palestinian leader - not America’s difficulties with Arab coalition candidates, who exploit the Palestinian problem as a pretext for holding back from supporting the war on terror.
Arafat has a long and cynical history of making American diplomats laughing-stocks at the expense of Israeli lives. The better he succeeds, the closer he comes to attaining his ambition of challenging Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar as hero of the Arab and Muslim world. His way of bidding for popularity in the Arab arena is to escalate his anti-Israeli terror war in time with the US anti-terror battles in Kandahar. Even the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the extremist Lebanese Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah are wary about directly affronting America, but not Arafat.
He even indulged in private jokes at the American envoy’s expense. One was the venue chosen for his first interview with Zinni; Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian terror groups run by chief of the Palestinian West Bank General Intelligence Service, Col.Tawfiq Tirawi, and the Palestinian town with the greatest Iraqi military intelligence presence. Another sly dig went unnoticed when Arafat and Zinni came out and talked to correspondents.
After expressing his deep longing for peace, Arafat declared it must be based on all UN Middle East resolutions including Resolution 425, a reference that drew no response from any of the Americans present. UN resolution 425 called for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. This was accomplished in May 2000 to the complete satisfaction of the world body. The text contains no reference to the Palestinian question. Nevertheless, Arafat slipped it in as a private favor to the close ally he shares with the Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden - Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of the Hizballah, one of al Qaeda’s fieriest supporters.
According to Nasrallah’s reading, resolution 425 will never be upheld until the Palestinian question is settled and all the Palestinian refugees restored to their former homes in present-day Israel.
This stratagem provides the Hizballah chief with his rationale for his terror-cum-hate campaign against Israel and its foremost backer, the United States, while also blending the Hizballah and Palestinian terror offensives into a single cause presented as a national liberation struggle. [Emphasis added]
In the manner of a throwaway phrase, Arafat therefore articulated the close Palestinian-Hizballah relationship – in the presence of American peace envoys.
Friday, November 30, Zinni, who has scarcely uttered since Monday, issued a statement in Jerusalem after calling on the Israeli president. He declared he would not let terrorist groups defeat his mission and he would stay as long as necessary to attain the objective of a total ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis.
Just as the US envoy failed to address Arafat’s resolution 425 reference, he misattributed the spate of terror since Monday to a vague collection of terror groups, letting their author off the hook. DEBKAfile notes that it took the Americans too many years between the first bombing strike against the twin towers in 1993 and the horrors of September 11 to publicly and formally assign Osama bin Laden his true role as their architect.
Recognizing Arafat’s true role as prime perpetrator of terrorism is essential to its cure.
If mediator Zinni fails to assign the violence
to its source, his mission will fail. Worst of all, his very presence becomes
a recipe for more Israeli deaths."