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THE NEW PANIC
(Commentary by Yosef Harif, "Ma'ariv", Feb 25, 1998, p. B6)

Saddam lost and, even now, there is no room for concern about pressure to
complete the agreement with the Palestinians.

The "panic" which supposedly gripped the public -- over concern that
Saddam Hussein would again attack Israel and, this time, perhaps with
non-conventional weapons - - has not yet died down. Meanwhile, there are
those who are already trying to create a new public panic: Israel will now
be subjected to heavy pressure toward hastening the achievement of an
agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Those who anticipate this
pressure believe that the dangers facing Israel from countries such as
Iran and Iraq will disappear only if a solution is reached to the
Palestinian problem. This is a refutable charge.

Israel must invest maximum effort to accelerate the conclusion of an
agreement with the PA -- even at the cost of painful compromises -- but
what is the connection between the Palestinian problem and the crazed,
pathological hatred of Israel which guides countries like Iraq and Iran?
Why arouse imaginary panic through a claim that might create the
impression that, if biological and chemical warheads fall, it will be
because Israel is unwilling to withdraw to its 1967 borders or to accept a
sovereign Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital?

Even if there were some foundation to this claim, the question still
remains: How did Iraq come to invade Kuwait in 1991? What is the
connection between this event and the Arab-Israeli conflict? And what is
the connection between the war that Iraq started with Iran in the 1980s --
which included the use of gas against the Iranian army -- and the
Arab-Israeli conflict? And what is the connection between Syria's takeover
of Lebanon and the Palestinian problem?

Had the US not fought Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, does anyone doubt that
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain could have been next in line? Would this have
been because of the Palestinians? Saddam Hussein clearly intended to seize
control of the West's oil sources, and to become a global (as well as a
regional) power. Of course, Saddam Hussein is Israel's sworn enemy and
would fancy its extinction -- but when he declared, before his invasion of
Kuwait, that he would scorch half of Israel, it was not because Israel
would not come toward the PLO. It was part of his plan to dominate the
Middle East. In fact, he correctly assumed that this threat would not
shock the world, and that he would suffer no consequential harm. In the
end, due to the West's mercy, it was not only Israel which paid the price,
but also the Gulf states and the American-led West -- which faced the
tangible danger of losing its sources of Middle Eastern oil.

Nothing except for US deterrence will restrain Saddam Hussein's appetite.
Had Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak not convinced him of America's
determination to strike Iraq -- as he had learned from President Clinton
-- and with greater force than in 1991, it is doubtful that Saddam he
would have submitted to all the US conditions. For some reason, Saddam is
now portrayed as a hero and victor. What heroism or victory was there
here? All in all, he capitulated and agreed to unconditionally receive the
inspectors, who will now endeavor to locate his concealed weapons -- this
time, in the shadow of an awesome concentration of American and British
forces at Iraq's gate. It is Saddam, and not Israel, who ought to be
panicking.

.


From owner-israel-mideast@PANKOW.INTER.NET.IL  Wed Feb 25 15:34:39 1998
Subject:      The New Panic - "Ma'ariv", Feb 25, 1998
Status: O
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