September 11, 2003

The Problem of Yasser Arafat

Israel has decided to remove Yasser Arafat.

The security Cabinet decided on Thursday to expel Yasser Arafat but put off immediate action. Individual government officials and Cabinet ministers have not yet commented.

"Recent days' events have proven again that Yasser Arafat is a complete obstacle to any process of reconciliation ... " the Cabinet's communique stated Thursday. "Israel will act to remove this obstacle in the manner, at the time, and in the ways that will be decided on separately ..."

The United States has notified Israel it is opposed to the expulsion of Yasser Arafat even though "he is part of the problem and not part of the solution" in the tense standoff with the Palestinians.

I do not think this is wise.

If Yasser Arafat is expelled from the West Bank, he will have more power and prestige than he currently has. He will have freedom of movement and he will be free from harrassment. He can give orders by telephone and rally support around the world. He will get a hero's welcome wherever he goes. He will not be made irrelevant.

Better, perhaps, to imprison him in Tel Aviv. He would have no freedom of movement and he would be unable to give orders to anybody. But someone would be kidnapped and held for ransom. And the ransom would be the release of Yasser Arafat.

No. I see only two workable solutions.

One: Keep him isolated in Ramallah and endure the status quo. For now.

Or put him on trial for Murder, Kidnapping, Torture, Terrorism, Assasination, and Crimes Against Humanity. Give him a lawyer, conduct the trial in English, and televise it. Then execute him.

He is guilty on all counts.

NOTE: I am not advocating the last position. I simply think it would be more just and more productive than exile. The status quo regarding Arafat, awful as it is, is probably better on balance. For now. Build that wall, Israel. Faster.

UPDATE: David Bernstein agrees.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 11, 2003 10:52 PM
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