What’s all this debate about expelling or not expelling Arafat? Have we all gone mad?

How will expelling him solve the problem? As I recall, Arafat was in exile until 1993. And in exile he was able to lead a terrorist organization and plan attacks on Jews, Israelis, and others, around the world and in Israel. Oh yes, he also managed to hobnob with the rich, famous and powerful, lobbying for a “Palestinian” state in his spare time. Can someone tell me what expelling Arafat will accomplish other than turning him into a “victim” again?

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The debate shouldn’t be about expelling or not expelling him; either way we’re still stuck with his “leadership” of the Palestinians. The real debate that has yet to begin in earnest in Israel is over trying him for crimes against humanity — i.e. Jews and others. The only decent question for decent people to debate is whether he should receive life in prison or the death penalty.

I believe an Eichmann-like trial would educate a generation here in Israel and abroad to Arafat’s murderous criminal activities. It would teach the world how to deal lawfully with terrorism and how not to appease it. Some might object that Arafat, as head of state, is immune to prosecution. Well, guess what? He’s not the head of any state yet. Besides, that objection didn’t stop Belgium when it contemplated prosecuting Ariel Sharon.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that since 1993 Arafat really has wanted peace but has been able to stop those nasty Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Tanzim, and Al-Aksa Brigade terrorists (he’s officially the leader of the latter two groups). Well, if that’s the case. why should we negotiate with him? Either he’s in charge, in which case he is culpable for their crimes, or he’s not in charge — in which case we should start discussing who is and talk to them.

But if Arafat is not responsible for all those bombings and killings since 1993, on what grounds could we try him? How about trying him for the death of Americans — two diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan and Leon Klinghoffer at high sea, for starters? The world might not care about Israelis and Jews killed from the 1960’s to 1993, when his “immunity” began, but Americans care about the murder of their citizens overseas.

Let me tell you: We should care about those Jews and Israelis killed even if others don’t, and try him for those crimes as well. Bringing Arafat to justice would teach the world a moral lesson for years to come. In most democracies, there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder, or accomplice to murder. Just recently, a Connecticut court found the nephew of Ethel Kennedy guilty of a murder he committed in 1975 at the age of 15. He’s now facing life in prison. His Kennedy family connections didn’t seem to help him escape justice. Why should Arafat, a serial murderer of the worst kind, be allowed to escape justice? Just because he’s become a “respectable politician”?

Many readers are probably ready to raise the issue of “world outcry.” Frankly, we seemed to deal with it during the Eichmann trial, the Demjanjuk trial, and most recently, the cries of massacre at Jenin. One lesson to learn is no matter how much the world condemns us, in two weeks there will be new headlines.

Israel only needs the political strength to stand up for itself. Ariel Sharon and others showed a glimmer of that recently, with regards to the UN and Jenin. Besides, fighting terrorism is “in,” and a strong Israel leading the way would restore the image that others looked up to in the past. “No compromise with terrorists” was a phrase that previously earned us respect in many quarters. It also set an example that others followed.

In contrast to the carpet bombing the United States employed in Afghanistan, Israel in the full light of day, through a legitimate judicial process, could try and execute a mass murderer of innocent men, women, children, and babies.

Although I don’t believe the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, there is an interesting point to think about for those who prefer expelling Arafat. While Part 3, Section 3, Article 49 forbids individual or mass transfers from occupied territories (and is likely to raise many cries worldwide that we are violating International Law), Articles 64, 66, 67, and 68 (of Section 3) allow the Occupying Power to bring to trial and impose the death penalty on a person guilty of espionage, serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power, or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons.

In sum, Israel would be on firmer legal ground trying Arafat than expelling him.

Which leads to a final issue that many are raising: What’s after Arafat? Won’t Hamas or who knows who take over?

To which I ask: Will someone please explain how, with more than 500 killed and thousands injured since Oslo in 1993, things could possibly get any worse?

Arafat may be in charge and encouraging terror, or he may be in charge and not doing anything to stop the murder, or he may not be in charge and therefore unable to control the terrorist groups. Whatever the case, he’s politically irrelevant, as the Israeli government declared recently. We just need to follow through with the next logical step: Trying and executing him.

The real debate over what to do with Arafat hasn’t yet begun in Israel. As I said earlier, the only decent question for decent people to debate is whether he should receive life in prison or the death penalty. If there’s a referendum, you know my vote.

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