by Special Jerusalem Report

"MIDDLE EAST IS ON THE BRINK - a Report from David Dolan, veteran Middle East Reporter

The Middle East is trembling this Saturday, seemingly perched on the edge of a major volcanic-style eruption. Warning tremors are growing in both volume and intensity.

Reflecting this on the other side of the globe, the United Nations Security Council has held an emergency midnight session. It was an extremely surreal scene, with Norway—the very country where the failed Oslo “peace process” was born—presenting a demand for Israeli forces to immediately pull out of Palestinian Authority territory. The Syrian regime—whose forces have illegally occupied neighboring Lebanon for many years—led an effort to strengthen anti-Israel language in the resolution, dropping all references to the very Palestinian terrorist attacks that have led the region to the brink of war! The final resolution, called typically one-sided by the Israeli UN ambassador for failing to note that Israel was only responding to the worst massacre of Israeli civilians since the current violence began in September 2000, was approved with American approval after Syria absented itself from the vote.

With Yasser Arafat’s holed up in his partially destroyed compound in Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, Palestinian forces fired mortars into the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. This prompted Israeli troops this morning to move back into the nearby Arab town of Beit Jala. Meanwhile a large-scale Israeli call-up of military reserves continues. Officially some 20,000 men are being mobilized, but sources tell me they believe the numbers are actually larger.

The most disturbing thing that I have seen so far today is Egyptian state-run television, which is carried by Israel’s main cable TV outlets. This supposedly American ally, possessing a formal peace treaty with Israel, has been broadcasting strong anti-Israel propaganda. Violent scenes of the Palestinian uprising—featuring Arabs being shot by Israeli soldiers and burning Israeli flags—are being interspersed with Muslim scriptures and pictures of Egyptian Hosni Mubarak meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Songs accompanying the violent footage decry Israel’s control over Jerusalem, and especially over the Temple Mount.

Even more ominously, Cairo’s official station has broadcast scenes of earlier Arab-Israeli wars. Pictures of Gamal Nasser leading Egyptian forces to battle against Israel have been screened. Some scenes have featured pictures of Egypt’s large American-supplied missile force.

Israel’s worst nightmare is that Egypt might join in any new general Arab attack. As I have written before, it is clear to most Israeli government and military leaders that Arafat is attempting to bring the region to war, hoping that his Arab cousins will—for the fifth time—come and fight for the outgunned Palestinians. Even though he does not expect them to destroy the nuclear-equipped Jewish State at this stage, he is hopeful that they will do enough military damage to force Israeli leaders to at least hand him a Palestinian state greater in size than he can possibly get at the negotiating table.

As I have written before, I do not believe that Egypt will actively join a new Mideast war, but will undoubtedly support it verbally. Although he is no lover of Arafat, President Mubarak needs to placate his mostly Muslim population, which has been whipped up emotionally by a steady diet of TV pictures showing heavily armed Israeli forces trying to halt Arafat’s violent 18-month-old war of attrition. The Egyptian leader may at least move some of his troops and equipment either into or near the Sinai peninsula, forcing Israel to station some of her outnumbered men in the south—just in case.

Evidence is growing every day that we may be sliding into the war I wrote about in my new book, ISRAEL IN CRISIS: WHAT LIES AHEAD? If so, we could well see Syria and Iraq jump in with both feet, backed at least indirectly by Iran (its proxy Hizbullah militia in southern Lebanon will certainly join any regional fray).

The big question marks are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The first two countries have substantial military forces that could be thrown into the war pot, while Jordan shares a long and strategic border with Israel. It is clear that King Abdullah of Jordan does not want to toss out his peace treaty with Israel, but pressure is growing inside his country to do just that. His police had to use tear gas to disperse anti-Israel rioters on Friday. Further demonstrations—which are actually directed as much against the pro-American Jordanian monarch as they are at Israel—can be expected, especially if Yasser Arafat is killed or arrested in the coming hours or days.

Israeli leaders are saying on the record that they have no intention of harming the besieged Palestinian leader. However, it seems pointless to assail his headquarters so intensely—which all knew would probably lead to the US-backed UN call for Israel to cease and desist—and not finally deal with the Real Problem inside.

I suspect that the Sharon government has quietly informed its American counterpart of an intention to dismantle Arafat’s terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority, and has received quiet US approval to proceed. This decision would have been bolstered by Israeli-held documents that were seized from the Palestinians, proving Arafat’s direct role in the ongoing Palestinian terror campaign. The documents show him to be no different than Osama Bin Laden. Indeed, the number of people killed in terrorist atrocities this month alone—80 as of Saturday morning—would translate into over 4,000 victims in per capita American terms!

Thank you again for your prayers on our behalf at this critical hour. On this particular weekend, when believers around the world celebrate the fact that death was overcome by life right here in Jerusalem at Passover nearly 2,000 years ago, we do indeed covet your prayers for guidance and protection. Just one thing is certain—the LORD WILL REIGN OUT OF ZION’S HOLY HILL! "