Palestinians need democracy
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice recently said the Palestinian
leadership "is corrupt and cavorts with terror." The logical conclusion
from her statement is that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority need to
Yasser Arafat's admission of "mistakes" and relenting acceptance of
the need for reform and elections only state the obvious: The Palestinians
need democracy. Of course, Arafat has backtracked, saying elections can
only take place after the "Israeli occupation" ends.
The Palestinians need representation now, not later, to assure a true
voice in the search for statehood and peace. Arafat is no true voice or
partner for peace. He is a ruthless terrorist turned dictator of a displaced
people. Palestinian votes do not legitimize Arafat -- dictatorial Arab
leaders do. Even democratically elected President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
maintains that Arafat is the only partner for peace in Israel, despite
the fact he does not represent the will of the people via elections.
If all of Palestine voted in an election, the chairman would not win.
He does not have the goodwill of the people in mind. Following his release
from his compound after the battle of Jenin, Arafat briefly enjoyed high
"approval ratings." The ratings quickly faded after losing the euphoric
support of a fickle populace. He did not even visit besieged Jenin after
his release for fear of being a spectacle, jeering and possible violence.
In addition to Arafat's lack of democratic mandate or goodwill of the
people, he also has no military legitimacy and any promises made in light
of this fact are unaccountable. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups
are autonomous and state flatly that Israel's existence is unacceptable.
Arafat has no leadership in those organizations and no military. Consequently,
Arafat is unable to enforce any security provisions of any treaty he may
Negotiating with Arafat is folly, akin to constructing a peace treaty
with some anonymous Palestinian from the streets of Jenin. Neither of the
two represents the will of the people nor has any control. Arafat is a
figurehead, one who selfishly carries on his impotent post to feed his
appetite for status and the appearance of power.
Arafat should be exiled, never to return to Palestine or any leadership
post thereof in any country, for all the reasons stated above. He should
be replaced with democratic institutions and elected leaders.
Once an elected official comes forth with the ability to compromise,
the willingness to negotiate in good faith, the power to enforce treaty
security provisions and the initiative for peace from the Palestinian people,
Israel can go to the bargaining table. Then, both parties can be held accountable
for promises solemnly made and suffer the possible military consequences.
Israel negotiated with the false voice of Arafat, ignored the moral
dilemma concerning said negotiations with a non-democratic leader and reaped
the real life result of violence and murder. After elections, Israel can
at last learn if the Palestinians truly want peace.
Unfortunately, jihad looks to be the most likely electoral mandate
of the people. The popularity of homicide bombing among Palestinians suggests
that peace is not viable, and a recent poll cited by a Wall Street Journal
editorial "indicated that a majority saw the destruction of Israel as their
Whether the outcome of elections is peace or jihad, at least
Israel knows where it stands with the Palestinian people, straight from
the voting booth.