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March 22, 2004
Bummer of a Birthmark, Yasser

Now that Israel has signaled to the Palestinians that it's tired of negotiating with people who want nothing less than their extermination by executing the leader of Hamas, another leader in the Palestinian Authority has realized that he might be next:

The missile strike that killed Yassin may have shaken Arafat in more ways than one. The killing sparked huge demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, showing just how formidable a rival Hamas has become to Arafat's Palestinian Authority. ... After Yassin's killing, Arafat expressed concern he, too, might be targeted. "Arafat feels he is threatened, and we feel he's threatened because when they target Sheik Yassin, they are not far from Arafat," said Palestinian Communications Minister Azzam Ahmed.

Well, the reason he may be targeted is that Ahmed is more correct than I suspect he wants to be: Arafat is little different from Yassin in his terrorist tactics. The only difference between them is that Arafat hasn't built a reputation as a "holy man" like Yassin, and probably isn't anywhere as esteemed as the dead cleric. Furthermore, Arafat is the head of the Fatah faction of the PA, which also includes the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has claimed responsibility for scores of dead Israeli civilians. The only thing keeping Arafat alive is Israel's reliance on the West. For now:

Roni Daniel, military correspondent for Israel's Channel Two TV, cited a senior Israeli defense official as saying Arafat could be a target soon. However, a security official told The Associated Press that Israel's campaign would focus on Hamas. The official said strikes were expected to intensify.

That's due to the target-rich upper structures of Hamas, and Abdel Aziz Rantisi should be next on Israel's hit list. There's no sense in going after Arafat first, but eventually after Israel clears the decks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Arafat's number will come up.

Clearly, Israel has nothing left to lose except their alliance with the US, and while we will frown at Israel and cluck our tongues, we can offer them no other course except to protect themselves. We've provided the structure for one peace agreement after another, and the Palestinians have proven that they won't negotiate in good faith, and that they won't stop killing Israeli civilians regardless of negotiating status. We simply cannot hold Israel to a different standard than we use when dealing with terrorism. It's past time for us to quit forcing Israel to negotiate with those who would exterminate them, and let them do what they need to protect their own citizens.

In providing Israel no other choice, Arafat may have signed his death warrant. Once Arafat understands that the US will not ride to his rescue any longer, we may find Arafat a changed man. Until then, he should get used to those concentric circles on his back.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 22, 2004 6:35 PM

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