Both Arafat and Netanyahu can do more for peace

Instantly, you remember what several months of relative calm have enabled you to forget — that "calm" does not mean "peace," that Israel's citizens are targets of murderous terrorists, that they must never let down their guard, must never become complacent, must never forget that the bombs are not gone, not yet, not, most likely, for years to come.

Thirteen more Israelis, plus two demented suicide bombers, and we are plunged directly back into the awful tightness we have known so often, too often. By now, the rituals are familiar: the sirens, the outraged bystanders, the tender ultra-religious Jews searching for every bit of the remains, each tiny fragment precious, sacred.

The political response, too, has taken on a ritual aspect. Just two hours after the gruesome event, here is David Bar-Illan, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asserting that the Palestine Authority is responsible, that for them, terror is a negotiating tactic designed to pressure the Israelis into concessions, that the peace process itself is foolishness.

As if in the absence of a peace process the bombing will stop, the terror will disappear. As if the pursuit of peace is a favor to the Palestinians. As if Arafat et al. benefit from these events.

Let it be said, and clearly: It is Israel's great misfortune that the people with whom it must somehow live are the Palestinians, so miserably led and so resolutely unable to bring forth a better leadership.

The leaders of the people with whom Israel must somehow live, with whom it must negotiate, are Mr. Arafat and his colleagues — rotten, corrupt, incompetent. It is therefore all too easy to curse these people and their leaders, to wish the entire enterprise of peacemaking away.

But wish it away and will tomorrow be host to the Palestinians replaced by, say, Canadians or Belgians?

Hardly. The Palestinians are who they are, and making peace with them is not a concession, neither to the terrorists among them nor to the many, the very many, innocents. Israel does not pursue peace with the Palestinians out of some woolly universalist sentiments, but out of hard-nosed self-interest. It pursues peace because as complex as that pursuit is, Israel has witnessed the alternative and that alternative — most recently in the form of the intifada — is still more deadly. And not just deadly: sterile.

Surely it was no accident that the act of terror took place just as the negotiations were about to resume. Surely even David Bar-Illan knows: No matter how much culpability attaches to Arafat on account of his passivity, it is Hamas and not Arafat who desired the deaths and the recriminations. P

If there is any fitting memorial to those who died, any fitting compensation to those who were wounded and to those who saw the dead and the wounded and must live forever with the horror, it is that the correct lessons be drawn from what transpired.

Of all people, it was Ariyeh Deri — in other contexts, hardly an admirable figure — who put the matter most accurately: "You can't expect security cooperation without forward movement in the political process. You can't have one without the other."

It is true that the insistence on building new housing in the Har Homa area cannot be compared to the bombs in Machaneh Yehuda. And it is likely that even after peace, malcontents will continue to act out their persistent hatred. But the deadly absurdity of playing Alfonse-Gaston with peace and with people's lives — "You give us security, and we will resume negotiations" vs. "You resume negotiations and we will give you security" — cannot be permitted to continue.

Arafat can and must do more with regard to security. And Netanyahu must and can do more with regard to negotiations. Neither can wait for the other; both must move, and quickly.