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Arafat – Never A Partner for Peace

TASK FORCE ON TERRORISM & UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE U.S. House of Representatives ERIC CANTOR, Virginia November 16, 2001

Support for a Palestinian state ruled by Yasser Arafat would raise serious
security concerns and is the wrong policy to pursue given the nature of the
conflict in the Middle East.

The difficulties between the Palestinian Authority and Israel are the
result of neither flawed U.S. policies, nor disagreements over the means by
which a peace might be achieved. Rather, the existing violence is the intended
result of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat?s official and explicit
policy of using violence against innocent civilians to achieve political goals.
In fact, the manner in which Mr. Arafat has employed terrorism as a legitimate
policy instrument suggests that his aims include not only the establishment of a
Palestinian state, but also the complete elimination of Israel as the home of
the Jewish people.

Mr. Arafat has spent much of his life terrorizing both Israel and the world.
He began by forming a small organization named al-Fatah, which in 1965 launched
one of the first military operations against Israel. Following the Arab-Israeli
war in 1967, Mr. Arafat and al-Fatah escalated their campaign of violence to
include terrorist activities, and in 1969, Mr. Arafat expanded his terrorist
reach by asserting leadership over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Some of the more well-known terrorist atrocities committed by the PLO under Mr.
Arafat?s stewardship include:

  • the first major hijacking of a plane, an El Al flight in 1968 to
    Algeria;
  • the September 1970 highjackings of four flights which were routed to
    Jordan, or blown up;
  • the kidnaping and murder of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic
    Games in Munich;
  • the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in October 1985 which
    resulted in the murder of an American passenger; and
  • the 1990 foiled terrorist attack on the embassy of the United States in
    Tel Aviv (this was to serve as a distraction to Iraqi invasion of Kuwait).

In addition to these and other assaults against Israel, Mr. Arafat has also
focused his terrorism on the United States. The acts include the killing of two
U.S. diplomats in the Sudan in 1973, when Palestinian gunmen affiliated with the
Black September organization stormed a reception at the embassy of Saudi Arabia
in Khartoum. Mr. Arafat?s link to these murders was later proven by Israeli
intelligence, which provided the State Department with an audiotape of Mr.
Arafat giving the order to have the American diplomats killed. Since the signing
of the Oslo accord, Mr. Arafat has maintained his commitment to the use of
terror even as Israel has continued to turn over land to the Palestinian
Authority. Mr. Arafat?s violations of Oslo and subsequent agreements include:

  • the failure to confiscate illegal arms;
  • the failure to disarm and disband terrorist organizations;
  • incitement of violence against Israel in the Palestinian media and
    school textbooks;
  • the failure to satisfactorily change the PLO covenant so that it
    unequivocally recognizes Israel?s right to exist without dispute;
  • the opening of Palestinian Authority offices in Jerusalem;
  • the acquisition of heavy artillery;
  • the recruiting of terrorists for the Palestinian police; and
  • exceeding the agreed-upon limit on the number of Palestinian police.

Despite signing a series of agreements with numerous Israeli governments, Mr.
Arafat has never accepted the existence of the State of Israel. Throughout the
1990s, Arafat reiterated his commitment to armed Jihad as the primary avenue for
the liberation of Palestine. Mr. Arafat admits that he was pursuing a peace
process that was an integral part of the 1974 "Phases Plan," which
states the Palestinians should accept any land they are offered and then use the
land as a springboard for the destruction of Israel.

Ultimately, as early as the Spring of 2000, Arafat personally ordered active
preparations for the late-September outbreak of the still unfolding Intifada.
This occurred when the peace process was in full swing. The Barak Government was
most accommodating, while the Clinton Administration was putting pressure on
Israel to be even more forthcoming.

As recently as this week, Mr. Arafat continued his policy of arresting and
then releasing known terrorists. Senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Mahmoud Tawalbi
was arrested yesterday by Palestinian police, then ordered released by
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat after Palestinians protested his
arrest. Islamic Jihad, which is recognized by the State Department as a
terrorist organization, was responsible for the rallies calling for Tawalbi?s
release.

At this moment, Mr. Arafat continues to operate on the theory that he can
achieve through terrorism what he cannot achieve through negotiations. As a
result, any recognition at this time of Mr. Arafat as a suitable "peace
partner" would violate the policy on terrorism President Bush set during
his September 20 address to a Joint Session of Congress: "Every nation, in
every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are
with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor
or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile
regime."

Mr. Arafat harbors, supports, and engages in terrorism. To voice a commitment
to a Palestinian state under his leadership would amount to voicing support for
Mr. Arafat?s commitment to the use of terrorism. The immediate task before the
State Department is not to change the means the United States is using to help
produce Mideast peace. It is, instead, to force Mr. Arafat to abandon his use of
terrorism as the means by which he intends to weaken Israel?s resolve, and to
undermine Israel?s will to fight for national survival. An end to the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict will only be achieved when Mr. Arafat and the
nations of the Middle East accept the existence of a secure Israel as a
permanent condition of an enduring peace.

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