The fingerprints on this week's international conference against terror are unmistakably those of Shimon Peres. In the "war" on terror, this is Peres' natural battlefield.
Yet there is no escaping a basic question: How can a Peres-type concoction — the kind that made international news on the White House lawn, in Davos and Munich, and one that is now adorned with exotic kaffiyehs and golden galabiyas — contribute to the war against terror?
Does Israel, which exports experts and sophisticated antiterror methods to the whole world, need FBI specialists or a new edition of the useless Patriot missile in the form of explosive-sensing devices? And will Iran and Syria be impressed by this new Peres-Clinton extravaganza?
It is far more likely that, at this very moment, bearded planners are preparing some blood-curdling "answer" to the challenge co-produced by the "big" and "small" satans at Sharm el-Sheik.
To seasoned Israelis the exercise is transparent. The conference is clearly the opening shot in a battle for Labor's re-election. Its results contain as much real substance as the tanks now positioned, strictly for display, on the Green Line borders.
The tragicomic character of this charade brings to mind a short list of steps that will never be taken. Neither the Israeli government nor the other conference participants consider them viable. Why? For the simple reason that anything really effective must clash with Oslo's hollow peace.
For starters, nobody is suggesting taking the only effective measure on which Arafat cannot cheat: the extradition of wanted murderers to Israel. Instead, Peres is demanding more Palestinian police arrests, which he knows are a farce.
There will be no widening of the narrow strips of land Israel has left itself on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, strips that cannot effectively prevent the passage of terrorists, weapons and explosives. Israeli troops must have a sufficient presence on the Gaza-Egypt border, where smuggling tunnels that begin on the Egyptian side end in areas under Arafat's control.
It is certain, too, that the closure will not be replaced by a computerized index of photographs showing all persons currently demonstrating against Israel, making condolence calls for slain terrorists, delivering speeches, writing, teaching, preaching, donating and collecting funds for purposes hostile to Israel. Such an index would also include terrorist sympathizers, supporters, helpers and their families.
Anybody included on this black list would be barred from setting foot outside Zone A. Those apprehended would be deported or sentenced to three years in prison.
Such measures for punishing and deterring enemies would reward those who want to live in peace with us. But they will be automatically ruled out because Arafat cannot tolerate them.
It is also certain that the "free passage" from Gaza to the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria will not be closed, and that Israel will not cancel the VIP passes that afford the highest security classification to those with the worst terrorist records. Nor will traffic to and from Gaza be restricted to escorted convoys only, the way Gush Katif's Jewish residents are forced to travel.
And there will be no expulsions or arrests affecting the base of the terrorist pyramid — the "political" wings and the institutions and societies furthering religion, education and charity.
And no one will even dream of examining containers unloaded in Ashdod, destined for Gaza, in which the Palestinian Authority can import anything from small arms to armored vehicles.
There will be no mention of the vast quantities of cement trucked into the Palestinian cities of refuge. There is no control over how much of it is used to build bunkers and fortifications in the seven "Beiruts" situated on our doorstep.
It would be nice to be able to say that Wednesday's conference, while doing no good, at least has done no harm. Alas, even this is not true. The very fact that Arafat himself participated in the conference evinces a certain amount of harm.
Arafat is the godfather of terrorism, orator of the jihad speeches — the man who, just days ago, conducted a fake trial, thereby extricating the dispatcher of the suicide bombers from extradition to Israel.
Arafat is the leader who organized sympathy rallies, a 21-gun salute and condolences for "The Engineer," Yehiya Ayash. The mere fact of Arafat's appearance at this conference renders it fraudulent and deceptive.
Peres, architect of a show whose exterior gleams but whose core is rotten, again seems to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.