It's time for Arafat to step down

Outside editorials

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2001

The following editorial appeared Tuesday in The Guardian, London:

For Yasser Arafat, a moment of personal reckoning is at hand. After a three-month slide into open warfare with Israel ... the hapless Palestinian leader tried to call a halt on Sunday night. Israel must cease its attacks, he said in a televised address. ...

It was necessary, meanwhile, to establish a "complete cessation of all armed activities" by Palestinians. ... That Mr. Arafat's position has become desperate, even untenable, was rudely underlined by yesterday's blunt reactions to his appeal. Few appear to have been really listening to him. ...

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, certainly does not believe what he hears. More precisely, he does not want to. Since taking office last March, the Likud leader's entire thrust has been to weaken, divide and destroy the leaders, symbols, confidence, coherence and infrastructure of the Palestinian state. ...

In failing to curb the most excessive violence, Mr. Arafat has fed and watered his opponent's abiding, lifelong hostility. ... Mr. Sharon responds, as so often before, by launching new provocations. ... At the other end of the spectrum, the response to Mr. Arafat's TV special was just as predictable.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other rejectionist groups flatly spurned any renunciation of violence. ... In his loneliness, Mr. Arafat should take time to study the bigger picture. After a lifetime's work informed by courage and vision, he is now obliged to watch while the compromises and collaborations of the past 10 years are exploited or unpicked by the unyielding Mr. Sharon. ...

It is, obviously, not all (Arafat's) fault. But it is time Mr. Arafat took responsibility for these failures. That means standing down voluntarily, before he is pushed, and making way for a stronger, less compromised leader who is a fit match for Mr. Sharon and his ruthless kind. For Mr. Arafat, the sand-glass has finally run out.

The following editorial appeared today in Aftonbladet, Stockholm, Sweden:

America still fighting the last war

Unfortunately, the new American administration has not adjusted its policies to the new terror threats. Washington is still guided by the logic of the Cold War.

Some weeks before Sept. 11, the Pentagon announced that a new project for biological warfare would start. The project was described as research and would therefore not violate the 1972 agreement that prohibits manufacturing of biological weapons. What bacteria was the Pentagon interested in? A new type of anthrax?

Bush also has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, a unique attempt at addressing the greatest threat to our common security environmental pollution. And over the weekend, Bush declared that the U.S. now definitely will cancel the ABM treaty, the purpose of which was to limit the buildup of nuclear weapons. Bush wants to build a missile defense that would protect the U.S. from a nuclear attack.

Security policy experts today talk of new nuclear threats. Just about anybody can manufacture an atom bomb. The instructions can be obtained at a well-stocked library. Plutonium is available on the black market.

But in Bush's world, the enemy still is a well-defined state and the threat comes from long-distance missiles that can be discovered in good time before they reach American territory.

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