"Whoever thinks of stopping the intifada before it reaches its goals, I will give him 10 bullets in the chest."
With these words, Yasser Arafat--chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization--threatened the mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Freig, and other Palestinian leaders who have recently called for ending the violence in the territories. This is the very same Arafat who is being described by Alan Hart in an interview with Garry Abrams as " . . . not vindictive and (who) has shown mercy to PLO traitors much more than he has exacted vengeance."
Hart argues in the interview that Arafat "(has) moved away from terrorism to diplomacy more than a decade ago . . . and as the last best hope for a reasoned political settlement in the Middle East." However, the reality is totally different, and there are those who refuse to acknowledge this reality head-on.
Occasional moderately phrased rhetoric such as Arafat's words in Geneva on Dec. 2, 1988, even a book like the one written by Hart, cannot substitute for the numerous statements made at other times by Arafat and his PLO colleagues. It is no mere oversight that the PLO Covenant remains in force, that all PLO spokesmen stress the continual applicability of the "Armed Struggle," the "Phased Program and the "Right of Return"--formulas for the PLO's plan to eventually wipe Israel off the map.
On May 14, 1989, the Israeli government initiated a proposal to hold free and democratic elections followed by a transitional period of self-rule for the Palestinians during which time both sides will dedicate themselves to building confidence in one another. The transitional period is five years and is designed to serve as a test for coexistence and cooperation.
As soon as possible, but not later than the third year after the beginning of the transitional period, negotiations will begin on a permanent solution.
We in Israel are ready to start. The question is whether we will be joined by the Palestinians. We surely hope so.
Consulate General of Israel
in Los Angeles