Terror must end before peace starts

Thursday, June 12, 2003

President Bush, Israeli Prime Ariel Sharon and fledgling Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, commonly known as Abu Mazen, stood together in Aqaba a week ago pledging peace. The terrorists' response has been written in blood: Israeli soldiers slaughtered Sunday, a Jerusalem bus bombed yesterday. You can expect more. One must not negotiate with these murderers; one must eliminate them. If Mazen won't do it, Israel has to.

Mazen is facing a violent challenge from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is run by Yasser Arafat. But violent challenges to new governments aren't novel. Look at what happened in Israel in 1948.

The Irgun, one of the pre-state Jewish militias, tried to import arms into the new country. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion ordered the ship carrying the weapons stopped. There was shooting and death on both sides. But the ship was sunk, and the lawful authority of the government was enforced. Message: Private armies are not permitted.

Abu Mazen should learn from that. He must stake his claim as the only Palestinian authority in the Palestinian Authority. That will be difficult because the terrorists have the troops, weapons and organization, and Mazen has so little. Nonetheless, he must do it. Palestinian society cannot be run by terrorists. And the Israelis cannot be expected to negotiate with a partner who can't deliver.

Truces, ceasefires and deals won't suffice. Just as there is no compromise with Al Qaeda, there can be no compromise with Hamas and the other terrorist gangs. They must be liquidated. The road map to peace requires Abu Mazen to do the job.

It is not enough just to condemn terror. Actions speak louder than renunciations and denunciations. Bush insists that governments fight terrorists, cut off their funds and isolate them. They must, he said, "use every ounce of their power to prevent [terror killings] from happening in the future."

Abu Mazen, are you listening?.