politics, history and the war on terror
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Another Pledge Worth Breaking 

Several readers ask why the Bush administration opposes the removal of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. At first glance the statement of disapproval can be viewed as an obstacle against Israeli action, but a deeper look at the statements do not support this conclusion:

"The president reiterated his opposition to such an action," a third U.S. official told CNN. That official, who is involved in national security matters, said Sharon's new comments were brought to the attention of the White House, and, "we have made it entirely clear to the Israeli government that we would oppose any such action and we have done so again in the wake of these remarks. We consider a pledge a pledge."

President Bush did not explicitly voice the opposition, as he did for the support of Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank. The statement was made by one of the numerous "unnamed administration officials." There was no threat of reprisals if Arafat is removed, such as halting military and economic aid to Israel. All the administration said was it opposed Arafat's removal, just as it was opposed to the removal of former Hamas leaders Rantisi and Yassin. Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon points out the difficult political situation concerning the removal of Chairman Arafat, as other nations have invested plenty of political capital in him:

”I released myself from the commitment in regard to Arafat," he said. "I was very clear. I was committed then, and it was a different situation. When I started, Arafat was marching on red carpets laid for him by different governments in the past. Then, I accepted the commitment." Now, Sharon said, the "commitment does not stand anymore."

Israel is proceeding according to plan. It may not intend to kill Arafat, but statements such as Sharon's only further isolate Arafat and perhaps force him to act in a way that will make it politically acceptable to remove him from power. Or create the conditions for the Palestinians themselves to remove him. Statements from Palestinian leaders further confirms how the removal of Arafat will impact the political situation:

Reacting to Sharon's television interview, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat accused the Israeli government of trying to destroy the peace process and the Palestinian Authority, and to kill Arafat. "This will only create more chaos anarchy and bloodshed," he said. "It was the strongest signal yet that Israel could target Arafat."

The Palestinian Authority is not interested in peace, as the sponsorship of the Intifada and terror organizations demonstrates. During the1990's, Europe and America (under the Clinton Administration) negotiated with Arafat, the known terrorist leader of the PLO, and established the Palestinian Authority. After a decade of failure, many nations still live under the illusion that a negotiated peace can be reached with Arafat's Palestinian Authority. While the Bush administration no longer believes this is possible, it must deal with allies that do, such as Britain. The statement of disapproval from the Bush administration is most likely political cover for these allies as well as an attempt to appear even handed in the conflict.

Posted by bill roggio @ 7:54 AM