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ISRAEL MUST NOT SURRENDER TO TERROR

By MK Arieh Eldad

The proposed unilateral Israeli withdrawal of from the Gaza Strip is the newest (and arguably the most promising) victory awaiting the masters of terror. The fundamental tenet of the West's almost 3-year-old War on Terror is moral clarity - the courage of consistency. Such manifest principles shudder in humiliation by the anticipated Israeli pullout from Gaza. Once the sole battlefront in the Terror War, Israel has sorrowfully become only one of the many new war zones of this gruesome conflict.

The Jewish state continues to suffer as no other - however, a number of nations have come to experience the horrors of indiscriminate murder, the fear of sudden and unreserved violence and the mourning of fallen innocents.

Yet with no true examination, no attempt to look beyond the myth of rhetoric, the West continues to encourage Israeli capitulation to terror.

This must end for, if no other reason, than the defense of democracies throughout the world.

Sadly, Israel's greatest ally and the victim of one of the most depraved acts of terror, also seeks to have Israel give in to the terrorists in exchange for dreamy, tired and ill-conceived "peace plans" with the radicalized Arab-Islamic enemy. The "Bush Doctrine" defines capitulation to terror as a defeat, that those who aid the terrorists are as responsible and therefore as guilty as the terrorists.

With this faultless cognition, moral clarity demands that Israel be forbidden to capitulate to terror. And, with the unanticipatedoutcome of the Spanish elections and the conceivable loss of a staunch U.S. coalition partner, President Bush stated unequivocally:

"Any sign or weakness or retreat is a victory for the terrorists."

The partnership of nations who seek to do battle against terror must re-evaluate their automatic, and frankly, illogical, reactions to the Israeli-Arab conflict and understand that in the face of the bombing in Madrid, their future many hinge upon yet another terrorist victory.

Gaza

In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. That war broke out after Egypt had poured large military forces into the Sinai, closed the Tiran Straits to Israeli shipping and concluded a joint plan, with Syria, for an attack on Israel. Twenty-two years later, as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and following the Camp David talks between Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat under the auspices of President Carter, Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. However, Egypt declined to re-assume control of the Gaza Strip, which remained in Israel's possession.

After ruling Gaza for 37 years, Israel, in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords, handed over most of the area of the Strip to the Palestinian Authority. With all agreements signed, Israel held on to 20 flourishing communities in a small section of Gaza.

Until recently, it was Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who took the position that Israel must continue to maintain and develop these Jewish communities under Israeli rule in perpetuity. More importantly, the prime minister frequently expressed the view that the very existence of these Israeli communities in Gaza was essential to the prevention of a takeover of Gaza by extremist terrorist groups and the resultant creation there of the biggest terrorist base in the world.

The Roadmap: Conditions unmet

The "Roadmap," based on President Bush's vision requires, first and primarily, the cessation of terror. The plan was never implemented, very simply because the terror not only continued, but increased. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority was fleeting and Yasser Arafat remained the Authority's strongman who, to this day, continues to rule the PA as a terrorist organization.

Israel rightfully continued to maintain that, unless and until there is a cessation to terror, the thought of territorial concessions was,in fact, out of the question and that action would be seen as a reward for violence.

In all, nearly 1,000 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks over the past three years. Suicide-killers have indiscriminately taken the lives of women and children in the streets of Israeli towns and cities.

Against this background of ongoing and ever increasing terror, came an astounding turnabout in the long-standing policy of Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon. In what is clearly an act of desperation, Mr. Sharon decided that Israel would unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and possibly from areas in Judea and Samaria.

The prime minister's proposal has all the signs of a man brought to the brink, frustrated by the outrageous behavior of the Palestinian Authority, its blatant flaunting of all civilized norms, its disregard of any legal agreements and the refusal of the world community to disqualify the PA as an entity with any standing. The prime minister would capitulate to the terrorists through despair and fatigue, uprooting dozens of Jewish communities, transferring their inhabitants in the thousands and redeploying to a new and dangerous line of defense. Such matters should not be left to the tired and depressed.

The lesson of Lebanon

It was Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the extremist Lebanese Muslim terror organization Hezbollah, who described Israel as "a spider-web state." A few years ago, when Israel was fighting in Lebanon, Nasrallah believed that if he just kept up Hezbollah's terrorist strikes against the Jewish state, it would eventually break and retreat. This, indeed, is what happened and, in the year 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanese territory. That retreat, and the hastiness in which it was carried out, represented a tremendous victory for the Hezbollah, and gave living proof of the truth of Nasrallah's theory -the theory of terror.

The Palestinian Authority learned that lesson well.

Ariel Sharon's announcement of his intention to leave Gaza unilaterally in order to improve Israel's position and establish a new line of defense is decisive proof that terror pays. Such a move would indicate that Israel - at one time the very symbol of consistent refusal to surrender to terror and, in this sense, an example and model for the entire free world - was now signaling to all the terrorist organizations that terror pays. Israel, moreover,would become living proof that it is possible to overcome even a country enjoying overwhelming military superiority - if one simply persists in the mass killing of that country's citizens.

Should the terrorists' victory in Spain be topped off with the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the methodology will be set in stone. The threat to the lives of American and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will increase substantially, because Islamic terror will then have incontrovertible proof that all it need do is redouble its efforts and step up the slaughter in order to defeat the Western democracies. Such a victory for the terrorists in Gaza would be the opening signal for a worldwide terrorist offensive of unprecedented proportions.

The extremists will take over

It may be safely assumed that if the Israel Defense Forces evacuate Gaza, the most extreme terrorist groups will seize control of the area. Hamas, and perhaps Hezbollah as well, will gain sharply in strength, which will be understood in one way only: that they have succeeded in driving the Israelis out. A shot in the arm of this kind for the extremist organizations will, in effect, put an end to any prospect that a moderate Arab regime would ever take hold, carry out reforms, fight terror and realize President Bush's vision and the Roadmap.

Moreover, an Israeli surrender to terror, in the form of a unilateral retreat from the Gaza Strip, would deal a severe blow to the courageous American resolve to fight terror everywhere. The United States would be compelled to invest billions of dollars, and possibly send tens of thousands of additional armed forces to the Middle East, to avert defeat in the War on Terror. The bold and noble effort to recreate the Middle East based on a democratic Iraq will forever be damaged. If the U.S. experiment is able to survive the proposed terror victory, countless years will be added to the task, not to mention the added blood and treasure of the already put-upon American people.

A new dimension has been added to the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States. In the world of fundamentalist Islam, Israel is called "the small Satan." In Muslim eyes, the small Satan's surrender to terror would surely pave the way for victory over "the great Satan" - the United States. For this reason, if for no other, the United States must to strengthen Israel's resolve and urge its leaders to stand firm against terror. The level heads in Washington must expose the defeatist policy proposed by Prime Minister Sharon as the ill-conceived byproduct of desperation and fatigue.

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Professor Arieh Eldad, a brigadier-general (Reserves), has served in the past as chief medical officer of the Israel Defense Forces, and is a member of Israel's Knesset. His party, the National Union, is part of the coalition making up the Sharon government.