Israel's Fight Against Terrorism Will Be 'Long & Arduous'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel's fight against terrorism is going to take a long time, but continued U.S. and international pressure on Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, could make the PA take action against terrorism, a senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday.

But a senior Arafat advisor warned that if the U.S. decided to pressure Arafat, by cutting ties with the PA, it would cause an earthquake in the region.

Washington has been considering the possibility of taking sanctions against Arafat and the PA, including severing relations, for allegedly trying to smuggle weapons from Iran to the PA.

President Bush said over the weekend that he was "very disappointed" with the Palestinian leader and announced that Washington's special envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni would not be returning to the region for now to try to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and the PA.

The PA had asked that Zinni be returned to the region.

"[Arafat] must make a full effort to rout out terror in the Middle East. In order for there to be peace, we've got to rout out terror," Bush said over the weekend.

The president said that ordering weapons, which Israel intercepted about three weeks ago, was not "part of fighting terror. That's enhancing terror."

Vice President Dick Cheney said simply that the U.S. did not believe Arafat had nothing to do with the arms shipment captured by Israel on the Karine-A.

Cheney said it was "disturbing" that while Arafat could have turned toward countries that would promote the peace process for help instead he turned to those who wanted to destroy it.

"What he's done is gone to a terrorist organization, Hizballah, and a state that supports and promotes terrorism, that's dedicated to ending the peace process, Iran, and done business with them," Cheney said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Arafat advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh warned that if the American administration decided to cut ties with the PA and Arafat over the affair it would "cause an earthquake in the region, which nobody will be able to confront."

According to the Palestinian News Agency WAFA, Abu Rudeineh said that taking such measures would give the Israeli prime minister a "green light" to continue what he called Sharon's "escalatory policy against the Palestinian people." He suggested "isolating" Sharon instead.

"What is needed is isolating Sharon and putting an end to his escalatory policy, instead of receiving him in the White House," Abu Rudeineh said. Sharon is due to meet with President Bush next week. Bush has never invited Arafat to the White House.

Arafat, who has been stuck in Ramallah for seven weeks, and recently surrounded by Israeli tanks, sent letters to various world leaders regarding the deteriorating situation due to what he called the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said Monday that Arafat was in "an extremely difficult situation." Annan said that he was not sure that Arafat was completely in control of what was happening in the territories.

"I am not sure that given the current situation that he is in, his leadership will not be affected. And we need to really find a way to get the parties to take reciprocal steps to come back to the table," Annan said in an interview with the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera satellite television channel.

Israel has bombed numerous PA security installations and other targets during the last 16 months of bloodshed, arrested and killed dozens of Palestinian militants in raids in PA areas and virtually incarcerated Arafat in his headquarters in Ramallah, as part of the action it hopes will stop terrorism and convince Arafat to dismantle terrorist infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Palestinian terrorism has continued.

On Sunday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the heart of Jerusalem, killing one and wounding some 150 people at the same spot where a Palestinian gunman opened fire on pedestrians killing two last week.

But senior Sharon advisor Ra'anan Gissin said that Israel's approach is bound to be effective if international pressure on Arafat is maintained.

"This is not a game where there is a magical solution," Gissin said of the continued terror attacks. "The fight against terrorism is a long and arduous one."

Israel and the international community will need to continue to put pressure on Arafat and the PA until such a time that they will take action against the terrorism. They've been engaged in it for 40 years, it's much more difficult to wean them from the terrorism, Gissin said.

In the meantime, Israel is taking actions to deal with the terrorism to reduce it to a "manageable" level, he said.

"It would be easy to bomb them into the Stone Age. But then what?" Gissin asked. Israel has "certain actions" that it has decided should be taken in the event of a major attack.

"We will continue to do what the PA doesn't do," he said. That together with pressure from the U.S. could cause the PA to realize that they are paying a heavy price for terrorism, Gissin added.

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