Barak sells out to Arabs

January 09, 2001|By Aron U. Raskas

YASSER ARAFAT has acted with "ambivalent attitudes toward terrorism, and at times outright complicity." The Palestinian Authority's non-compliance with its commitments has "actually led to a repeated pattern of abuse, misconduct and outright violence on the part of the PA."

Right-wing rhetoric? No. These and similar statements represent the official position of Israel's government set forth in a white paper, "Palestinian Authority and P.L.O. Non-Compliance with Signed Agreements: A Record of Bad Faith and Misconduct."

Much ink has been spilled by pundits trying to explain Prime Minister Ehud Barak's rush to conclude a deal with the Palestinian leader. The world watches in astonishment as Mr. Barak contravenes his own statements, crosses Israel's supposed "red lines" and discards its bargaining chips faster than the Palestinian leader can say no.

Yet, one need look only so far as Mr. Barak's own characterization of his partner in peace to shudder in disbelief at the sheer hypocrisy of the Israeli government's course.

The agreement that Mr. Barak would have the Israeli government enter into would be wholly dependent upon Palestinian good faith for its central components.

In Jerusalem, for example, Palestinians would control the Temple Mount but would be expected to "acknowledge the Jewish connection to the site" and forbidden to conduct any excavations. Certainly they would be expected not to interfere with Jewish prayers at the adjacent Western Wall.

Further, the putative Palestinian state would agree to be "non-militarized." And the Palestinians would be expected to renounce any further claims against Israel.

Is there any reason to believe any of this would occur?

The PA has unambiguously demonstrated just how willing it might be to suffer a Jewish presence on or about the Temple Mount. Palestinians have desecrated Jewish holy sites. The PA has turned its munitions and "police" on Israeli soldiers and civilians, seemingly oblivious to the commitment that it made as the prerequisite to the 1993 Oslo accords: "The PLO commits itself to the Middle East Peace Process ... and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations" and "free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability."

Sober-minded people have long feared the ramifications of what columnist George F. Will sagely described in September 1993, when the Oslo accords were signed, as "trading strategically significant land for liars' promises of peace." Now, the Barak government's own handiwork has handily dispelled any remaining illusions about the likelihood of Palestinian adherence to agreements.

For a nation to willingly reduce itself to nearly indefensible borders that at their narrowest are nine miles wide, and to transfer control of key neighborhoods and sites in the heart of its very own capital, would be magnanimous acts unparalleled in history. To do so to an enemy still committed to terror, mayhem and violence would be sheer folly.

Like another modern leader, Mr. Barak has chosen to pursue a policy of appeasement that is doomed to fail. Yet, unlike Britain's Neville Chamberlain, Mr. Barak now has good reason before him to question the wisdom of his ways.

If Mr. Barak continues making concessions in exchange for worthless promises of peace, his own government's catalog of Palestinian connivance will stand as an enduring monument to the impetuous and irresponsible manner in which he chose to proceed.

Aron U. Raskas is a Baltimore attorney.

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