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The Credibility Gap

Published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

As I watched Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the PLO, and Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime Minister, during the recent signing ceremony in the white house to expand the Palestinian self rule in the West Bank, I couldn’t decide which leader has been the least credible in the pursuit of a real peace.

At the ceremony, Arafat, while wearing his trademark military uniform, synonymous with terrorism only two years ago, denounced violence by saying, ”Enough killing and enough killing of innocent people.” However, in June and August of this year, as he often does out of the range of the international news media, Arafat, in a speech toa Gaza audience , reaffirmed his commitment to Jihad ”via death, via battles.”

Ironically, the new agreement calls on both Israelis and Palestinians to “ abstain from incitement including hostile propaganda against each other.” Yet during the initial signing of the new agreement in Taba, Egypt, earlier this month, earlier this month, Arafat publicly greeted the families “of our

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martyrs.” These so-called martyrs, more accurately termed terrorists, are those Hamas and other Islamic militants responsible for the murders of innocent Israelis.

Moreover, contrary to the Oslo agreement signed two years ago , but consistent with its aim, the PLO still hasn’t changed its national covenant calling for the destruction of Israel. Now, according to the new agreement , the Palestinians again promise to change the covenant within the next two years, It is astonishing that the Rabin government seems to believe the promise will be kept this time around, especially after the Israeli army withdraws.

Rabin, in his white House speech , surprisingly made a personal plea to Arafat, “not to let the land flowing with milk and honey become a land with blood and tears”.

Rabin Knows that Arafat , who is personally responsible for much blood shed by Israelis, has been unwilling and unable to fight terrorism for the last two years. In these two years, more than 170 Israelis have been murdered , a number much higher than in any previous comparable period of time.

In the same speech, Rabin warned that “if the Israelis and Palestinians do not unite against the evil angels of death by terrorism , all that will remain of the ceremony are color snap- shots and empty mementos.” I applaud such words, but why has Rabin failed to do anything about the agreement between the PLO and Hamas, reached four months ago, which allows Hamas and other radical groups to keep their weapons and operate unhindered against Israeli targets as long as the acts of terror are not committed in areas under Palestinian Authority control?

Now Rabin agrees to withdraw the Israeli army from seven major cities and 450 towns and villages in the West Bank. As a result, Israel will be only nine miles wide at its narrow waist, A force of 12,000 armed ex- terrorists, wearing police uniforms, will be stationed at such places as Kalkilya, located few hundred meters from Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar- Saba, and in Bethlehem, five miles from the Western Wall.

Frighteningly, Tel Aviv itself is approximately 16 miles from the West Bank.

In addition, the Palestinian police force, along with Islamic militants intent on revenge and total control, will clash with the 10,000 Jewish settlers still in the West Bank.

Finally, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal is completed in the next two years and after supposedly democratic elections take place, Arafat will almost certainly declare a PLO state with Jerusalem as its capital. Such a declaration is likely to bring immediate recognition from the international community. At that point, the Rabin government will not be able to do anything about it.

Eventually, this peace process will almost certainly result in a totalarian Plaestinian state, similar to the 22 other Arab states. And this will become the source of a new , even bloodier, Middle East war, because the Israeli army will be forced to go in and reestablish control of the territories as a matter of survival.

Shoula Romano Horing was born and raised in Israel. She is an attorney and a public speaker in Kansas City, Missouri.