New Violence in the Middle East


The flare-up of violence between Israel and Arabs who want no peace with the Jewish state should not be allowed to disrupt the peace process. Otherwise, those who favor efforts toward peace delegate the decision about it to those opposed. That does not make sense.

Last Friday, Palestinians from a wing of Fatah, which ostensibly supports peace negotiations, stole into an Israeli army camp and murdered three conscripts, two of them recent Russian immigrants, and got away. Israeli politicians started criticizing their army for lax vigilance.

On Sunday, as though in response but with fine intelligence beforehand, Israeli planes and helicopters raked sites in Lebanon associated the PLO and with Hezbollah, the extremist group in the Shiite community linked to terrorism and to Iran. An Israeli helicopter killed a major Hezbollah leader, his wife, little son and four bodyguards. Since then, shelling and counter-shelling have boomed across the Israel-Lebanon border.

Sheik Abbas Musawi, killed in the convoy leaving a Hezbollah rally, was a leader of this group, translated as Party of God, since its founding in 1982, and was its secretary-general since 1990. He was a leader when it sent suicide bombers into a U.S. Marine compound in 1983 with the death of 241, when it bombed French and American embassies in Kuwait and when it seized Western hostages in Lebanon. He was also close to the comparatively pragmatic Iranian president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and he helped negotiate the release of nine hostages last year. That did not make him a moderate. He was a sworn foe to peace.

The ambivalent position of Syria and its President Hafez el Assad comes under scrutiny here. Mr. Assad joined the peace process, but does not seem to mean it. He controls Lebanon, but does not bring the Iran-linked Hezbollah under control. Israel, in the ZTC throes of an election campaign, should not be attacking Lebanon. Terrorists in Lebanon should not be allowed to attack Israel. Young Palestinians should not murder Israeli soldiers. And none of those warriors should be allowed to torpedo the peace process when it seems to have a glimmer of a chance.

Peace talks in Washington, with Lebanon and Syria present, should go forward next week. Rather than allow terrorism to destroy peace, peace should be encouraged to destroy terrorism.

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