The headline I use today is the same as the one I used on 29 August following the “targetted killing” by the Israeli military of Mustafa Zibrim, a senior figure in Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organisation. He was killed in retaliation for the killing of a Jewish settler who was killed in retaliation for the killing of a Palestine teenager who was killed...and so the terrible tit–for–tat story goes back for more than a year to the start of the present intifada troubles – Ariel Sharon's infamous walk in Jerusalem. (Those who disagree with my analysis should read the Mitchell Report which clearly assigns the blame to Mr Sharon.)
The final paragraph of Viewpoint on 29 August read as follows: “President Arafat is almost daily accused by Israeli government ministers of being the person 'ultimately responsible' for Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Does this mean that Arafat is considered a legitimate target and may already be on a provisional hit–list? Just to ask the question is to envision a frightening future.” This week Mr Sharon said that if the Palestinian Authority did not hand over the killers of the cabinet minister Rehavem Zeevi within seven days Mr Arafat would be treated “in the same way the US treats the Taliban.” He omitted to say whether Israel would first go to the United Nations to get Security Council authority for his actions, as the US has done. This week Mr Sharon also said, “As far as I am concerned, the era of Arafat is over.” If that means what it appears to mean, President Bush should revise his priorities and move urgently to stop Israel in its tracks before the whole of the Middle East erupts in flames and the fragile anti–terrorist coalition falls apart. RAY FLEMING

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