A continuing refrain one hears these days is that Israel should not go too far in its war on terrorism and drive Arafat and the Palestinian Authority from power. Thus, while there is finally acknowledgement around the world ? even by the European Union! ? that Israel's efforts against the Palestinian suicide bombers are of a piece with the U.S.'s and the world's war on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, fear of what would follow Arafat & Co. has accorded this terrorist entity some redeeming value. But we are not buying.
At their recent meeting, Prime Minister Sharon said he “made it clear” to President Bush that Israel has five goals in the current military campaign against the Palestinian Authority. For one thing, it is his goal to force the real arrests of terrorists and their controllers, maintaining that past efforts by the P.A. have been a sham.
Second, he spoke about the dismantling of the PA militias which he said had never been seriously attempted. Third, he pointed to the need for the seizure and destruction of illegal weapons. Fourth, he said that the Palestinian Authority had to get serious about preventive security measures. And finally, there simply had to be an end to the anti-Israel incitement.
Yet, every one of the items on the Prime Minister's list was the subject of a promise by Arafat in 1993 as part of the Oslo Accords. And for all of his whining, almost everyone outside of the Arab world now is on record as recognizing that Arafat has either allowed or been complicit in the 14 month Intifada and the targeting of innocents in malls and in pizza parlors.
So one wonders how things could get worse. Surely, it is not as if Israel could be seriously challenged militarily in the foreseeable future by anybody leading the Palestinians. But what should weigh most heavily on everyone's mind is that Israel must continue to increase the pressure until the other guy “hollers uncle.” Anything less will feed the collective miasma that defines the Arab world. And, if it turns out that Arafat and the PA disappear before it works, well, then not much will have been lost in any event.