The Israeli-Palestinian conflict divides the world roughly into two camps. On the one side are the handful of nations who consistently sympathize with Israel; these include, first and foremost, the United States, but also Denmark, the Netherlands, and India. On the other side are the nations whose sympathies lie with the Palestinians; those constitute most of the rest of the world. The two camps are consistent in their actions and proclamations vis-à-vis Middle-East events, and they often seem completely hardened in their respective positions.
But the Israeli cabinet's recent decision to remove Arafat "in principle" has drawn nothing but condemnation. Even
arguments against expelling Arafat are straightforward. Doing so will
only have a symbolic effect and will not bring about a decrease in
terrorist activity. If anything, such belligerence on
Arafat is almost sure to bring about an unprecedented cycle of
violence. It will also deepen the resentment among all Arabs to any
non-Arab presence in the
An expulsion of Arafat from the territories is also sure to isolate
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little attention has been given to the positive case for expelling
Arafat. To appreciate it, we must consider it from the perspective of
Ariel Sharon's long-term strategy in his own war on terrorism.
Always the General, Sharon sees the current conflict primarily in military terms.
The Palestinians' second Intifada is not supposed to lead to the direct physical destruction of
Operationally, this means that every terrorist attack invites without exception a proportionally tormenting retaliation; that no genuine concessions are offered in return for mere promises; that Israel is entitled to take the initiative in this war of attrition, e.g., by hunting down the leaders of terrorist organizations with ruthless consistency; and that no negotiations, hence no signs of hope for the Palestinian people, are ever to be considered until terrorism come to a full stop and the war of attrition is fully won.
The ultimate goal of
The simple fact is that
After the initial rage subsides, the Palestinians will ask themselves even more poignantly "Where is all this leading us?" and come closer to realizing that honest and non-violent negotiations are the only way to a better future. Perhaps then will there be popular support for forcibly dismantling the terrorist organizations.
is the lack of such support that led to the demise of the Road Map. And
the reason the popular support was wanting is that, somewhere and in
some way, the Palestinians still believe that they can win the war of
attrition they have declared on
The thought of years of more violence is certainly disheartening. But such is the nature of a war of attrition.