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Arafat’s Mukata ‘Victory’

29 September 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Israel has withdrawn from the Mukata, the terrorists have gotten away and Arafat won this round.  No doubt when Israeli troops surrounded the Mukata in Ramallah the aim was to confine Arafat to a minimum of territory while forcing the surrender of those terrorists hiding with him.  In addition, at the end of last week the attempt to eliminate master terrorist Mohammed Def failed, when his car was rocketed with too small an explosive, this in an effort to keep civilian casualties down.  Instead he escaped with injuries.

Israel is the only country in the world not allowed to battle terrorism correctly.  UN Security Council Resolutions hamper the apprehension of terrorists, especially when they call for the lifting of the siege around Arafat and his henchmen.  Arafat could have been history at least a year ago had it not been for international intervention.

No doubt the move against Arafat backfired.  There are those who believe Prime Minister Sharon’s steps have made him more relevant than ever, especially when the Palestinian leader had slipped into irrelevancy to the point of facing a revolt by his own parliament.  Israel miscalculated, the Americans sacrificed Israeli interests in crushing Arafat in order to gain world support to eliminate Saddam Hussein.  All this means is that Israel must wait until Saddam is gone, the timing in anti-Arafat campaign was pre-mature.  And Saddam’s elimination IS in Israel’s interests.

But as the saying goes “It’s not over, until it’s over” and the whole operation is far from finished.  After Saddam, Arafat’s turn will come.   Sharon should have understood the overall American strategy, but his hatred for Arafat got in the way of clear and patient thinking. 

Once again Arafat’s victories are Pyrrhic.  He may have diplomatic and popular Palestinian support for the moment, but Israel still occupies the Palestinian cities and is successfully battling terrorism.  The terrorists who escaped are no longer living under Arafat’s immunity umbrella making them easier to apprehend or eliminate.  The Palestinian unemployment rate is about 50%, its economy is worth less than a billion dollars a year, the Palestinian parliament is still demanding reforms (although they may have suffered a setback due to Arafat’s latest ‘victory’) and Arafat’s greatest patron Saddam Hussein is facing elimination by the US.

It can be expected the Palestinian euphoria and media hype will not last long, and neither will many of the escaped terrorists including Mohammed Def.