Sidney Zion
The New York Post
Tuesday,October 17,2000

    AS the world awaits Yasser Arafat's decision on war or peace, and as the United Nations stands strongly behind him, it's important to remember who he was and where he was and what he was in 1993, right before the Great Handshake on the White House lawn.

    Arafat then was in an airborne grave, his only safe port Tunis, where the remnants of his Palestine Liberation Organization lived in corrupt splendor, while his West Bank intifada survived on life support.

    Arafat was a pariah in the United States, in Europe and in the Arab world, thanks to his support of Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War.

    Even the Palestinians in Gaza and Nablus knew that their old hero was finished, and the kid stone-throwers had trouble finding rocks.

    And then, suddenly, came Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, and his deputy, Shimon Peres, to the rescue. Based on secret negotiations in Oslo, the Israeli leaders resurrected Arafat, koshered him up and together with Bill Clinton, the Great Enabler, shook the blood off his hands. The whole world applauded this peace process, which turned Arafat into a statesman. The Israelis established a Palestine Authority, which they armed, on the grounds that Arafat had to have the means to destroy Hamas, said to be the real threat to peace.

    At first, under the Oslo agreement, 9,000 Palestinian cops were to have handguns. Quickly this became 20,000 and then 40,000. The Israelis had given Arafat an army, while closing their eyes to the illegal importation of major arms into Gaza and the West Bank.

    When Palestinian suicide bombers did their deeds in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and thus destroyed Shimon Peres and elected Benjamin Netanyahu, Arafat turned to the Clinton administration, which sent in a public-relations SWAT team, led by James Carville, to whack out Bibi and elect Ehud Barak.

    At Camp David in July, Barak gave everything to Arafat but the Western Wall. And, incidentally, turned over the natural-gas discoveries in Gaza to the Palestinians - a prize worth $5 billion, which could have provided Israel with many years of energy.

    Arafat not only turned down Barak's offer of a divided Jerusalem, he thanked "our God" for the natural gas. His only God was Ehud Barak, but only Allah was great. After all of this, after Arafat has reaped benefits beyond anything he could have imagined in 1993 at the White House, he stands victimized in the eyes of the United Nations, and the world according to CNN.

    Meanwhile, the Clinton administration cravenly permits a U.N. Security Council resolution blaming Israel for the Arafat-induced conflagration.

    And Bill Clinton shows up in Sharm el-Sheik as an "honest broker," steadfastly refusing to place the blame on Arafat, where it absolutely belongs.

    But even Clinton couldn't get Arafat to arrive at this summit. It took Barak's offer to bring Ariel Sharon into the Israeli government to make the Arab world pressure Yasser. They know what Sharon means. And maybe, at long last, the Israelis know that what Sharon means is business.

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