]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]       THE ARAFAT MURDER THREAT         [[[[[[[[[[[[ 
          (Why won't the Israelis negotiate with the P.L.O.?)
                            by A.M. Rosenthal
                         The New York Times, 1/6/89

                  [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 07656GAED]

  Consider the following sequence of events.
  1.  On Dec. 15, Yasir Arafat, the head of the Palestine  Liberation 
Organization, renounces terrorism.
  Within hours, the United States announces it  is ready to talk with 
the P.L.O.
  2.  On Dec. 29, Elias Freij, Mayor of Bethlehem and one of the most 
respected Arab officials in the West Bank, suggests a one-year  truce 
in the intifada, the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank,  provided 
that Israel releases about 2,000 Palestinian prisoners.
  The Israelis quietly make it known they are ready to talk about the 
deal -- seriously.
  3.   On Jan. 2, Mr. Arafat broadcasts a murder threat: "Any  Pales-
tinian  who  proposes an end to the intifada exposes himself  to  the 
bullets  of his own people and endangers his life.  The  P.L.O.  will 
know how to deal with him."
  4.  On Jan. 3, Mayor Freij withdraws his suggestion and says it  is 
up to the P.L.O. to make all decisions,  He decides it is best not to 
be seen for a while.
  In  this eposode lies the answer to questions that puzzle  so  many 
people around the world who are not hostile to Israel.
  Why does the Israeli Government, including conservative and liberal 
members,  refuse to follow the United States' lead and negotiate  now 
with the P.L.O.?  After all, if you are looking for an end to a  con-
flict,  isn't  it  logical to talk with your enemy?   And  isn't  the 
P.L.O.  supported by most Palestinians?  And if Israel will not  talk 
with the P.L.O., is there any hope for a solution?
  The Arafat murder threat against the Mayor of Bethlehem shows  that 
the  P.L.O. still relies on terrorism, not only against Israelis  but 
against any Palestinian who dares step out of line and make an  inde-
pendent suggestion for dealing practically with the Israelis.
  The uprising in the West Bank has troubled Israelis deeply and cost 
the country support abroad.
  But the Mayor of Bethlehem apparently believed, as do other  Pales-
tinians,  that  as long as the uprising continues,  the  chances  for 
dealing with the Israeli Government will be zero.  Governments rarely 
negotiate during insurrections. unless they face defeat.
  The threat to the Mayor is totally in line with a policy the P.L.O. 
began  when it was founded in 1964.  That is to use terror to  ensure 
that no other  organization or movement has a chance to build support 
among Palestinians opposed to Israeli occupation, but who might favor 
a solution not based on the P.L.O. and its covenant.
  The covenant calls for elimination of the Israeli state. The P.L.O. 
might  not have a monopoly if Palestinians had a decent period  with-
out P.L.O. terror.
  Terror  has  been  an essential weapon of  the  P.L.O.  --  against 
Israelis  at  home  and abroad, against  Palestinians,  against  non-
Israeli  Jews  in foreign synagogues and against American  and  other 
Western planes, ships and embassies.
  Mr.  Arafat  sometimes took "credit" and  sometimes  blamed  P.L.O. 
groups  he  said he could not control.  Assuming for  the  moment  he 
really cannot control all the P.L.O. terrorists, why on earth  should 
the  Israeli Government recognize Mr. Arafat and  his  uncontrollable 
P.L.O. as its negotiating partners"?
  The  Arafat murder threat also shows why so many Israeli  officials 
pay more attention to what the P.L.O. says to Palestinians and  other 
Arasa  than what it says to American diplomats in Geneva or  American 
Jews  in Stockholm.  In broadcasts and interviews aimed at  Palestin-
ians and other Arabs, P.L.O. spokesmen make it plain that the  estab-
lishment of a small Palestinian state is only the first step toward a 
much larger state in what is now Israel.
  Not  only Israelis believe the P.L.O. has yet to put terrorism  be-
hind  it.  King Hussein of Jordan is not taking any  chances  either.  
The P.L.O. tried to kill him before.  He knows it would try again  if 
he  suggested Israeli-Jordanian talks about a union between parts  of 
the  West Bank and his own largely Palestinian country -- an idea  he 
once thought entirely sensible.
  One  day  that may be the solution, because it  is  ethnically  and 
strategically logical.  Yitzhak Shamir and other members of the Likud 
party who are reluctant to give up any territory are not fond of  the 
idea.  But they do not kill Israelis who suggest it.
  The  United States decided to deal with the P.L.O. on the basis  of 
Mr.  Arafat's word that the P.L.O. renounced terrorism and any  hopes 
of eliminating Israel -- without waiting one day for proof.
  The murder threat by Yasir Arafat helps answer the question of  why 
Israel declines to take the same step and risk its existence.
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[Note  added by Sysop: Have you noticed? TV news (CNN) now reports  on 
Arafat's  negotations  etc. like this: "Yasir Arafat, once  branded  a 
terrorist, ..." The meaning that they want to convey is not just  that 
Arafat  has now reformed overnight, but the "branded" implies that  he 
never reallt WAS a terrorist and filthy murderer.]

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