In return for relinquishing land it has occupied for 28 years to guard its own security and in exchange for "peace," Israel has asked for words of assurance from the PLO that the organization intends to live up to the agreement forged in Oslo, Norway. They get those words when Yasser Arafat speaks to them in reasonable diplomatic language. But when Arafat speaks to his own people, he reveals his true intentions.
In the past two months, Arafat has repeatedly spoken of the unfinished business ahead. At a University of Al Azhar gathering in Cairo, Arafat said, ''We are going through a critical and decisive stage in which we are commanded to exert every effort and sweat and our potential in order to reach our ultimate goal: Jerusalem." He called for the Palestinian flag "to fly over the walls of Jerusalem, its mosques and its churches. All of us shall pray in Jerusalem whether anyone likes it or not."
Arafat likened the Oslo agreement to a pact made in the 7th century between the Prophet Mohammed and the Koreish tribe, which Mohammed kept for 10 years and then violated when it suited his purposes. In his speeches, Arafat identifies himself with Mohammed, suggesting that, like the Prophet, he intends to do the same thing with any agreements he signs.
In Gaza last May, Arafat said, "Bless your struggle and your jihad on this land . . . We are all on the way to dying a hero's death on the way to Jerusalem, capital of the State of Palestine and no other state." The same month, in a speech read for him by the Palestinian Authority's minister of justice, Freih Abu Middein, Arafat said, "I say once more that Israel shall remain the principal enemy of the Palestinian people, not only now but also in the future."
Arafat consistently and passionately calls for "Jihad through deaths and martyrdom and sacrifices." He praises the terrorist acts of the Hamas ''brothers" whose violence against civilians is not part of a radical response to the "peace process," but is, in fact, part of Arafat's phased campaign to retake Israel and expel the Jewish people.
The truth about Arafat's intentions is not found in the soothing words he speaks and the diplomatic meals he eats in the West. It is found in what he says to his own people. Apologists in Jerusalem and the West, including much of the Israeli media, ignore Arafat's flagrant violations of the Oslo-Cairo accords.
They include his following failures: to prevent and combat terrorism (occasional staged responses notwithstanding), expel terrorist factions
from the PLO, extradite terrorists wanted in Israel, effectively denounce anti-Israeli violence, refrain from hostile propaganda against Israel and change the PLO Covenant calling for Jerusalem's destruction.
The ancient Hebrew Scriptures exhort us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." But the document about to be signed in another misbegotten White House ceremony is not an answer to such prayers. This agreement will mean hell to pay for Israel, perhaps not immediately, but ultimately.