There is no Palestine

March 31, 1996

THE SUN'S EDITORIAL, ''Fighting terror at the summit,'' (March 12 makes a major factual error. In several places it refers to ''Palestine.''

While Israel has generously granted the PLO the trappings of a de facto state, the final status of the lands in Yasser Arafat's jurisdiction has not been determined. It is still subject to )R negotiation.

The Sun's editors may will it; that does not make it so.

The editorial makes another mistake and that is in its premise.

The idea that the summit in Sharm el Sheik would be effective was predicted on the belief that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority were active participants in the war against terror.

The facts show this to be a mistaken belief.

On Feb. 22, just three days before the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon, there was a Hamas rally in Kalkilya. The highlight of that demonstration was the burning of an Israeli bus in effigy. Rather than stopping this disgusting display, members of the Palestinian Authority's police force looked on approvingly. (Israel television broadcast this spectacle.)

This incident demonstrates that even ''moderate'' Palestinians approve of the threat of violence against Jews.

More disturbing, though, is a report of one of Israel's top military correspondents, Ze'ev Schiff. He disclosed that members of Arafat's intelligence service were aware of the Hamas terror campaign before Feb. 25.

Instead of taking action to stop these outrages, the officers of the Palestinian Authority tried to persuade Hamas to postpone -- not cancel -- its attacks until after the Israeli elections. Worse, these contacts took place with the full knowledge of Yasser Arafat.

This sort of behavior on Arafat's part has become so common as to suggest that he is fully complicit in the Hamas terror campaign against Jews.

The only way to change that is to convince Arafat that there is a price to pay for noncompliance with and outright violations of his commitments.

The United States, particularly Congress, can pressure Arafat to abide by the Oslo accords by withholding funds from the Palestinian Authority as long as the terrorist infrastructure under his jurisdiction remains intact.

This stick has a better chance of forcing Arafat's cooperation than the carrot of a photo opportunity.

David Gerstman

Baltimore

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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