As for Mr Arafat, he has reduced intelligent and capable Palestinians to despair. Bombastic, inefficient and habitually averse to honouring his commitments, Mr Arafat has shed none of the habits acquired in decades as a guerrilla chieftain on the run. Itwas all too characteristic that the establishment of his secret police took priority over the economic planning so desperately needed if foreign aid is to benefit the Palestinian people.
Mr Rabin and Mr Arafat now need to take radical steps if the enemies of their policy are not to triumph. If ever there was an effective unholy alliance in in the Middle East, it is surely that between the rabid Jewish settler extremists and the self-immolating zealots of Islamic Jihad.
That is why Mr Rabin must shed his reticence. Israel must start freeing its Palestinian prisoners. Israeli troops should thin out their presence in the West Bank as a prelude to withdrawal. The illegal construction of Jewish settlements must end - including, let it be noted, the concrete belt encircling Arab Jerusalem.
For his part, Mr Arafat must accept that elections in the Palestinian areas should come as soon as possible. He must allow his cadre of decent and talented Palestinian administrators to govern and thus deny the Islamic extremists easy propaganda.
A timetable is now necessary to link withdrawal of Israeli troops to Palestinian elections and negotiations on the final status of the self-rule areas. Mr Rabin and Mr Arafat braved the fury of their hardliners to make peace because both knew that in thelong term their peoples had no alternative. A hundred suicide bombers cannot demolish that reality.Reuse content