As we and others have opined, the inclusion of Arab states that continue to harbor terrorist cells in the anti-terrorism coalition is seriously undermining the effort by signalling a political business as usual modus operandi. We have been equally critical of signs that the Bush Administration is agreeing to certain demands of Arab states in general in order to keep them in the coalition. Primary among the concessions was the recent public support expressed by President Bush for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Plainly, the Arab states think they are finally onto something in their effort to have the United States cut Israel loose. But the snickering that this has doubtless engendered seems about to turn into outright mockery if it hasn't already done so.
The big news in recent weeks has been the public Bush Administration displeasure with Israel's policy of “incursions” to root out the pattern of Palestinian shooting and bombing directed against Israelis. In response to Arafat's varying claims that he is either unable or unwilling to control it, Israel has entered and reoccupied both Area A and Area B territory and tamped down the violence. In our view the coalition politics which prompted U.S. opposition to this policy ? a policy which, of course, on its face makes perfect sense for Israel, if the goal is to stop the killing and maiming of its citizens ? has caused incalculable damage to our image as placing the eradication of international terror at the top of our agenda. A statement this week by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer regarding the incursion policy carried in a Reuters dispatch has highlighted the problem:
It's been our view that the right of self-defense, which Israel certainly has and no one challenges, should not be exercised with incursions into Area A.
What message other than one of kowtowing to the demands of our Arab coalition partners could account for the arbitrary carving out of an exception for Area A? Further, a front page story in Monday's New York Times reported on Administration gratification with supposed cooperation of some Arab states and emirates in the effort to restrict the movement of funds of terrorist groups. Here is a rather startling two paragraphs of the article:
The outcome, gulf and American officials said, may be a new partnership against terror in a critical Middle Eastern financial hub.
Ultimately, administration officials say, the cooperation of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and other nations in monitoring financial transactions may prove as significant as a special-forces strike or a new round of arrests.
The verifiability of this “cooperation” escapes us. But what is the world now to think about our resolve to militarily pursue and root out the terrorists around the world? What indeed?