ISRAEL'S RED LINES?
David Bar-Illan, the director of policy planning for Prime Minister Netanyahu, delivered a stirring speech in Miami recently. He said everything that a friend of Israel could hope to hear from a senior adviser to the prime minister. "We cannot tolerate a one-sided compliance with the agreements, where only Israel is held to account while the Palestinians desist from compliance..." he said, according to accounts in the Jewish media.
"The murderous PLO Covenant must be abrogated...The 27 known murderers [whose extradition Israel has requested] are free in PLO territory, some are seen drinking tea openly in Gaza...Arafat must stop glorifying terrorists and terrorism...all Palestinian Arab offices, starting with the Orient House and the government offices operating in Jerusalem, must be closed down."
Did Bar-Illan mean what he said, or was he just telling the audience--a Friends of Ariel dinner--what they wanted to hear?
More than a month has passed since the Hebron agreement was reached, yet none of the "demands" that Bar-Illan listed have been met. The Covenant has not been abrogated; in fact, Yasser Arafat openly boasts that he will not change it. None of those 27 killers have been extradited, and PLO officials say they have no intention of handing over any of them.
Arafat continues to glorify terrorists--indeed, in his "peace" speech upon taking over Hebron, Arafat praised Hamas terror leader Sheikh Yassin and demanded that Israel set him free. And those PLO offices in Jerusalem, including Orient House, are still operating in full view of the Netanyahu government.
If Israel is serious about making the PLO keep its promises--in fact, if Israel is serious about surviving as a sovereign state in the Arab Middle East--it must establish, and stick to, clearly defined "red lines"--points at which it will say "this far, and no farther."
Does the Netanyahu government currently have any red lines? If PLO compliance was a red line, then the prime minister and his spokesmen would announce that further Israeli withdrawals in Judea and Samaria will be halted if PLO violations continue. But they don't say it--they never warn of any specific consequences that
will ensue if the PLO doesn't change. Arafat correctly interprets this to mean that he can do anything he wants, just as he did under the Rabin and Peres administrations.
Is there a "red line" regarding the Golan Heights? Despite the prime minister's tough rhetoric regarding the Golan, he continues to push hard for a resumption of Israel-Syria negotiations. Why? Such negotiations must involve an Israeli surrender of the Golan; Syria will accept no less.
If Netanyahu intends to keep the Golan, why enter negotiations? Israeli-Syrian talks can end in only one of two ways: either Israel will surrender under American pressure, or Israel will stand tough and then endure a firestorm of international criticism--something Mr. Netanyahu has already demonstrated an inability to resist.
What about the large quantities of sophisticated weapons that the PLO "police" --read: Army-- has been stockpiling? Where is Netanyahu's red line? Will he wait until Arafat has a huge and dangerous army breathing down Israel's neck?
Is there a red line on Jerusalem? The prime minister talks tough about not compromising on Jerusalem. Yet Jewish housing projects in neighborhoods such as Har Homa and Ras al-Amud have stalled because of the government's interference. Is Netanyahu preparing to compromise on Jerusalem, too?
Herbert Zweibon is Chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.