It's now almost three years since that handshake on the White House lawn between the late Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the PLO. The world does little remember that this acknowledgment of the murderous PLO and its acceptance by Israel as a peace partner was an act of generosity unprecedented in the history of the world. Israel asked very little in return, except security and cessation of terror. How have the parties performed their respective obligations?
What are the facts?
Israel's Commitment to Peace. Israel committed to grant the Palestinians wide-ranging independence, eventually, according to an established timetable, to turn over the cities and major areas of Judea/Samaria (the "West Bank") to the control and autonomy of the Palestinians. This is to eventually culminate in a "final status" conference in which the borders of the autonomous zone and the status of Jerusalem are to be agreed upon.
Israel has meticulously adhered to its commitments under the Agreement. It has, unfortunately, made many errors, and opened vistas and expectations among the Palestinians that will never be fulfilled. Those are primarily that an independent Palestinian state would be allowed to come into existence, that Jerusalem would be divided, that the eastern part of the city would become the capital of such a state, and that the "refugees" people who left Israel almost fifty years ago should be allowed to return. Because of that, much trouble and bloodshed may still be in prospect.
Thus, while Israel has meticulously kept its commitments under the Agreement, the Palestinians have lost no opportunity to foment unrest and bloody demonstrations in response to imaginary "violations" on the part of Israel. The first and most notorious one was the uprising in response to Israel's opening an entrance to an archaeological/tourist tunnel in Jerusalem. Another pretext for violence eagerly exploited by the Palestinians and enthusiastically seconded by most of the world was the construction of "Jewish" housing within the city limits of Jerusalem.
Total Disregard by the Palestinians. How have the Palestinians performed under the Agreement? The answer is: Very poorly. Their disregard for virtually all of its provisions has been so egregious that it amounts to a mockery. Despite repeated assurances that they would amend their infamous Charter, which unequivocally calls for the destruction of Israel, this has still not been done. They have taken insufficient measures to combat terrorist activity in fact, the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) continues to release well-known members of terrorist groups. Even though the Agreement demands an end of incitement to violence, Yasser Arafat and his lieutenants consistently whip up their followers to "jihad" (holy war). As the bloody riots in connection with the tunnel opening and with the construction of housing units have shown, such incitements always fall on receptive ears. It was also agreed that the P.A. should have no authority in Jerusalem. Even so, the Palestinians maintain (and the Israelis have so far suffered them to maintain) official presence in Jerusalem, especially the notorious Orient House, to which foreign visitors and diplomats like to make pilgrimages. Also, there is specific prohibition in the Agreement for the P.A. to conduct foreign relations. Despite that, again at the sufferance of Israel and what seems to be encouragement by many countries, the P.A. has entered into numerous international agreements, in such spheres as transport, telecommunications, and postal arrangements.
One of the most egregious violations of the Agreement is the size of the Palestinian "police" force, which is now estimated at over 50,000 (virtually all of them former PLO terrorists) which give the area under the P.A. the largest police-to-population ratio in the world. Incomprehensibly, Israel (always accommodating) has provided this "police" with an arsenal of attack weapons, which at the first trumped-up occasion (the opening of that tunnel entrance) were turned and used with deadly effect against Israeli civilians and military.
The list of violations of the Agreement goes on and on. There is the failure to confiscate illegal arms; the arrest and interrogation of Israelis by the Palestinian police; the abuse of VIP privileges; the movements of Palestinian "police" outside the so-called "Area A" without prior permission; the unauthorized construction of Dahaniye Airport; the unauthorized construction of Gaza Port; the failure to enforce visitors' permit requirements; and much more.
The Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs threaten at every hitch in the "peace process" to break it off or to resort to bloody violence. Regrettably, the United Nations, which takes scant interest in the mayhem, mass murder, and genocide that goes on all over the world, takes a totally disproportionate and one-sided (consistently pro-Arab) interest in this "peace process" and in the alleged "violations" of it by Israel, without considering the almost total disregard of virtually all of its provisions by the Palestinians. No peace can possibly come about until the world forces the Palestinians to comply fully with the Agreement and until they realize that violence cannot take the place of negotiation.
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Gerardo Joffe, President