Barak must respond swiftly to terror

It's now time for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to end his policy of restraint.

Barak has done everything that is humanly possible to try to make peace with the Palestinians. But peace only happens when both sides crave it. Obviously, the Palestinians don't.

This is not to say that Israel should bomb Palestinians at random. However, Palestinian fire should be returned with Israel fire. And a terror attack such as this week's bombing of an Israeli school bus needs to be answered by gunships and other heavy artillery, as Barak has done.

Yasser Arafat had enough opportunities to join Barak in a cease-fire over the past two months. Twice President Clinton asked him to do so, and twice he has dragged his heels.

Just last weekend Arafat finally told his police not to fire upon Israelis. But clearly his instructions were given with a wink and a nod. All signs indicate Arafat's people were behind the bombing of the Israeli school bus.

Barak's policy of restraint hasn't worked. He had embraced such a policy in the hope it would lead to a cease-fire and a new round of peace talks before Clinton leaves office.

But that is not to be. Arafat seems in no rush to return to the negotiating table.

The Palestinian-controlled media, both newspapers and TV, are advocating that the violence continue. Palestinian children are being told Jews should be driven out the Mideast. In fact, their schoolbooks shows maps of Israel but the country is labeled Palestine.

There can be no peace if the future generation of Palestinians is being weaned on such hatred.

Unfortunately, too many lives, both Palestinian and Jewish, have been lost in this new intifada. And all indications are those losses will continue to increase.

But all indications are that the latest violence won't end until the Palestinians put down their arms. Until that happens, Barak must protect his people and meet any aggression with a strong military response.