Another cursed anniversary fell this week – the 20th anniversary of the ill-fated and misconceived Oslo Accords which led directly to the mess that Israel finds itself in today.
Caroline Glick, in a devastating critique of Oslo and its perpetrators, writes about Israel’s 20-year nightmare:
Twenty years ago today, Israel’s so-called peace process with the PLO was officially ushered in at the White House Rose Garden.
A year or so later, when the death toll of Israeli victims of the massive terror offensive that the PLO organized shortly afterwards reached what then seemed unbearable heights, a popular call went out to “Put the Oslo Criminals on Trial.”
Needless to say, with Shimon Peres, the architect and godfather of the so-called peace process now serving as the President of Israel, nothing ever came of the call.
The demand for an accounting was not unprecedented.
Twenty years before that ceremony at the White House, Israel suffered the worst military defeat in its history.
Israel did win the Yom Kippur War, in the end. It was a sloppy, painful, tragic and costly win.
Just as was the case twenty years later, when Israelis (having been introduced to the suicide bomber), decided their leaders had betrayed them; following the Yom Kippur War, the demobilized soldiers, the bereaved families and the general public demanded an accounting from the senior political leaders and the IDF brass that had led them down the vicious, deadly garden path.
After the Yom Kippur War, their demand was answered. The Agranat Commission was formed. And heads rolled.
And just to make sure we remember how ill-served we were by our leaders forty years ago, every year around Yom Kippur, the media gives an open mike to every maudlin, angry, and indignant story they can find. Every year new documentaries are produced. Every year, new books are published. And for the most part, they are interesting and worthwhile.
Nothing even vaguely resembling the now forty year-long accounting Israel has experienced with regard to the Yom Kippur War has occurred in relation to the so-called peace process with the Palestinians that is now twenty years old. No commission of inquiry was convened. No heads have rolled.
As a portion of Israel’s population, the number of Israelis who took part in protests against the so-called peace process comprised the largest protest movement in history.
The public foresaw what was eminently foreseeable. Renowned intellectuals and decorated military leaders warned that the PLO was a terrorist organization that had no intention of making peace with Israel. They warned that the PLO would use every inch of land Israel transferred to its control as a forward base for terrorism against Israeli civilians. They warned that Yassir Arafat was a liar, a murderer and a Jew hater who would use all powers granted him to murder and legitimize the murder of Israeli civilians.
They warned that he was not interested in the least in establishing a Palestinian state, rather wanted only to oversee the dismemberment and destruction of our state, the Jewish state.
And for the past twenty years, their warnings were borne out by events every single day.
More than fifteen hundred Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the past twenty years. Scores of thousands of Israelis have been wounded or suffered the destruction of their families and their lives.
Diplomatically, Israel has paid an immeasurable price for the abject stupidity of our leaders’ willful blindness to the rank phoniness of the PLO’s commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel. The glaring obviousness of the danger of accepting the false historical narrative of our sworn enemies on our ability to defend ourselves internationally was so overwhelming that no one even bothered to mention it in the years before the so-called Oslo accord was concluded.
But today, after twenty years of self-induced diplomatic failure has rendered Israeli leaders and representatives incapable of defending the country, it is necessary to explain it.
The PLO falsely claims that the cause for instability and violence in the Middle East is the absence of a Palestinian state in the lands Israel took control over from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War.
Before the inauguration of the so-called peace process, Israel easily defended itself against this libel. After all, the PLO was established in 1964 – three years before Israel took control over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Its declared purpose was and remains the destruction of Israel, not the establishment of a Palestinian state on some of the territory Israel controls.
The absence of regional peace has nothing at all to do with Israel. It stems from the virulent Jew hatred that is endemic throughout the Islamic world. Due to this hatred Israel’s neighbors seek its destruction. The centrality of their irrational, obsessive desire to seek the eradication of the Jewish people and the Jewish state is the reason there has been no true peace between Israel and its neighbors – including its Palestinian neighbors. And because their hatred is irrational and all-encompassing, there is nothing Israel can do to appease them.
Israel was able to defend itself from the PLO’s lies to great effect before it accepted this terrorist organization as a legitimate actor and so accepted the legitimacy of its duplicitous narrative. But since it did, it has been unable to explain its actions, or increasingly, its right to exist at all. Because if the absence of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, and its capital city is what stands behind all the bad behavior of the Arab world, then everything that Israel does that impinges even marginally on the establishment of such of state is immoral, destabilizing and dangerous.
This is why even Israel’s most skilled diplomats – to the extent they still operate in Israel’s PLO-besotted Foreign Ministry — cannot defend us. This is why a generation of Israeli leaders have zero to show for their efforts to defend this country. They are trapped in a policy discourse that is founded on anti-Israel lies.
Then there is our alliance with the United States. To legitimize the single most destructive action ever undertaken by an Israeli government, the Rabin-Peres government approached the Clinton administration and asked it to sponsor this objectively insane policy, strenuously opposed by half the country.
Bill Clinton was happy to oblige them. But once the Americans were on board, and placed US prestige behind a policy which, based as it was on lies, had no chance of success, Israel could not walk away.
Once the Americans supported a policy that half of the public – and now two-thirds of the public – opposed, Washington necessarily found itself siding with an ever shrinking minority of Israelis against the majority of the public. Consequently for the past twenty years, US decision makers have backed policies that have become progressively more anti-Israel.
From a domestic perspective, the phony peace process has taken an enormous toll on Israeli society and democracy.
Responsible opponents in the public square were castigated as extremists and enemies of peace, little different from terrorists. A new vocabulary to hide reality – like calling terror victims, victims of peace – was invented.
Four times over the past twenty years – in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2005 – the peace processors brought Israeli society to the brink of collapse. Lawful demonstrators and political activists – including minor children – were criminalized, and often jailed and put on trial for their civil disobedience. The corruption of Israel’s legal system, which applies laws unequally to various members of the public, depending on their political views was a direct outcome of Israel’s decision twenty years ago to embrace the PLO.
For the past twenty years, the party most responsible for Israel’s continued abidance by a strategy that has brought us nothing but disaster is the media.
Our media outlets run a constant stream of post-Zionist propaganda that has reduced our elected representatives’ field of action to the size of a postage stamp. They ignore knowledgeable, well-spoken representatives of the majority.
Today the Obama administration plumbs the depths of strategic dysfunction. The Arab world empowers the most dangerous elements in country after country. The European Union treats Israel as a greater international outlaw than Iran, North Korea or Syria. Anti-Israel indoctrination is the norm on university campuses throughout the Western world. A new generation is coming of age that has never heard the truth about the Jewish state.
To contend with all this, the single most important step Israel must take is to end our twenty year nightmare with the PLO. As long as it continues, we will remain incapable of defending ourselves.
Ignoring military intelligence, moral principles, and basic common sense, Prime Minister Rabin signed the Oslo Accords with Palestine Liberation Organization’s terrorist-in-chief, Yasser Arafat, on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, setting the stage for unprecedented bloodshed and unparalleled instability.
Nonetheless, despite the passage of two decades, the architects of Oslo stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the error of their ways and continue to ignore the damage they have wrought. It is time for them to do so.
Here is a simple fact which speaks volumes: in the five years after Oslo, more Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists than in the 15 years prior to the signing of the agreement. A total of 279 men, women and children were murdered in the half-decade following the accords, while 254 were killed in the previous 15 years.
And in the two decades since Rabin and Arafat exchanged handshakes with President Clinton looking on, more than 1,400 Israelis have lost their lives to Palestinian terror.
By all measures, Oslo was a disaster.
One might have expected that the main culprits behind this catastrophe would at least have had the intellectual honesty to come clean and take responsibility for the fiasco. But like a fretful husband who has gambled away his paycheck at the blackjack table, they prefer instead to deny reality and blame the deck of cards rather than own up to their actions.
Take, for example, Ambassador Uri Savir, who took part in the talks with the PLO. Writing in the New York Times last month, Mr. Savir had the audacity to rewrite history in a pitiful attempt to salvage his reputation.
Read the rest of Freund’s scathing critique of Savir and the other perpetrators of the Oslo crime – primarily Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin.
As it turns out, tomorrow not only marks the 20th anniversary of Oslo, but it is also the eve of Yom Kippur, when Jews around the world engage in soul-searching, grapple with our sins, and seek to make amends.
The intersection of these two occasions presents the perfect opportunity for Messrs. Peres, Savir, Beilin and all those who backed Oslo to give the people of Israel the belated apology that we deserve. Doing so would not only be the just and moral thing to do, it would also begin to heal some of the schisms Oslo caused in Israeli society.
The architects of Oslo might not be able to undo the mistakes of the past, but they sure can seize this moment to finally begin to atone for their transgressions. And acknowledging the failure of Oslo and apologizing for their roles seems like a good place to start.
I hope none of us are holding our breath waiting for this apology. We are likely to keel over from lack of oxygen.
Speaking of apologies, Yisrael Hayom’s Dror Eydar, in a blistering attack on Oslo’s architects, says that the wrong people are being asked for an apology:
Under the headline “Time for forgiveness” in Yediot Ahronoth, former Director of the Department for Special Tasks in the State Attorney’s Office Talia Sasson explains how Yom Kippur connects secular people to their Judaism; we must ask for forgiveness she writes. The reason we must ask for forgiveness quickly becomes apparent. Care to gander a guess? Bingo — it is because of the “occupation.”
Here are the golden words of the killer of Jewish outposts in the land of our forefathers: “Forty-six years we have controlled a foreign people. Its lands we have taken. Its water we have drunk. We have built our homes on Its land and Its basic rights we have violated. When I think of this I am overcome with disgrace. Yes. You and I who have come to terms with it, who have made it happen, who have spoken highly only of our own rights.” She adds that the Israel Defense Forces is immoral due to the occupation and that our democracy is not really democratic because of, yes, the “occupation.” Truly model atonement.
Twenty years have passed since the Oslo Accords; 20 years since the euphoria that flooded our minds thanks to those same old blowhards; since the voice of anyone who criticized the deal and shed a light on its pitfalls was silenced; 20 years since the throngs clamored after the false Messiah of peace. Here is a real reason to atone.
After decades in which we were used as lab rats in Talia Sasson and her friends’ diplomatic and military experiments, the time has come for forgiveness to be asked from Israel’s citizens. Forgiveness must be asked for slandering us throughout the world; forgiveness from the land of Israel for slandering it and for not remembering the sins of the spies who “scorned the desirable land;” forgiveness from the pioneers of our times, the settlers, who stay close to the good land and cling to it for all of us; forgiveness for the destruction of Jewish communities.
Middle East expert Prof Prof. Efraim Inbar talks in measured tones about the failure of the Oslo Accords:
The Oslo process — started between Israel and the Palestinians 20 years ago — clearly failed to bring a resolution to the conflict, and did not result in a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. The nearly 1,500 Israeli casualties and many more thousands of wounded during this period by Palestinian terrorist and rocket attacks testify to this failure. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s land-for-security formula did not work. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority, established within the framework of the Oslo process, now rules in the West Bank and promotes anti-Israel hatred through its education system and controlled media. Furthermore, Hamas, an Islamist organization dedicated to destroy the Jewish state, rules the Gaza Strip, continuing the armed struggle against Israel.
The current peace negotiations are unlikely to change the status quo. The chances that they will lead to the establishment of a stable, unified, and peaceful Palestinian state are nil. The differences in positions, particularly on refugees and Jerusalem, are unbridgeable. Moreover, the PA has displayed considerable difficulties in state building, and the resulting entity borders on a failed state. It failed to meet the essential test of statehood, monopoly over the use of force, and subsequently lost control over part of its territory, Gaza. It is hard to imagine the PA surviving without the infusion of billions of dollars of international aid. The PA mirrors the deep socio-economic and political crisis of several Arab states, putting a big question mark on the capacity of the Arab political culture to sustain modern states. Finally, both sides of the ethno-religious conflict still have the energy to fight over the things important to them. Such protracted conflicts usually end only if at least one side displays great weariness of the conflict.
Therefore, 20 years after Oslo, we are left with the entrenchment of two revisionist Palestinian national movements, one traditional and one Islamist, in parts of Palestine.
The Palestinian ability to exact great political cost is somewhat exaggerated as long as Israel benefits from moderate American diplomatic support. Appeals to ineffective international forums can be ignored, while some international institutions have only limited impact. Similarly, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign has largely failed, although some of its long-range ramifications should be a source of concern. Significantly, most world states prefer not to link their bilateral relations with Israel to the oscillations in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Moreover, the awareness that the Palestinians are not ripe for statehood has slowly spread into foreign policy decision-making forums. Subsequently, we also can detect greater international indifference to the Palestinian issue, particularly among Arab states, as plenty of crises in the Middle East and elsewhere attract greater attention.
All of the above means that the conflict with the Palestinians will not end any time soon, but that the situation is bearable.
Sounds like he’s damning it with faint praise.
Israel must also point out that the fractured Oslo process has brought about one more partition of Palestine (the Land of Israel). The first partition, imposed by the British colonial power, took place in 1922, when 75 percent of mandatory Palestine, the area east of the Jordan River, was taken away from the Jewish national home to be given to a throne-less Hashemite to establish the Jordanian kingdom. A second partition, this time of western Palestine, was the result of the Arab conquests in the 1948 war (Jordan took control of the West Bank and Egypt of the Gaza Strip), leading to the so-called “1967 borders,” which were actually erased following the Arab aggression in 1967.
The Oslo process amounts to a third partition because it led to a situation where eventually more than 95% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and all of the Palestinians in Gaza are living under Palestinian rule. As we have seen in other parts of the world, partitions can be messy and without clear-cut political outcomes. [...] Despite the anti-Israel rhetoric, the “occupation” of the Palestinians has practically ended. Anyone visiting Ramallah, with its cafes and shopping centers, can see it for himself.
Israeli society paid dearly for the Oslo experiment. It can honestly say, “We tried to make peace with the Palestinians,” which is a prerequisite for treating future armed conflict as a “no-choice” (ein breira) war. Such an attitude, prevalent during the Oslo years, has been central in forging great Israeli resilience to withstand protracted conflict, and an unwillingness to make dangerous concessions.
An example of such unwillingness to make any more concessions was seen just this week when right-wing Israeli MKs began pressuring Netanyahu not to make any more tangible concessions in the latest peace talks:
“Tell the secretary of state that Israel has no intention of returning to the parameters of the Oslo Accords or relinquishing any more of Israel’s homeland to the Palestinian Authority,” they wrote.
Avigdor Liberman aptly compares the mental “conception” that held Israel hostage to its huge detriment both in the Yom Kippur War and in the Oslo Accords:
Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who serves as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, connected the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War with the Oslo anniversary.
“The common denominator between the Oslo Accords and the Yom Kippur War is the danger of being a prisoner to a concept,” Lieberman said.
“In both cases, mental fixation led to the loss of many lives.”
In a very interesting article to conclude this post, Tova Lazaroff in the JPost writes how Oslo turned into a nightmare for one of its chief architects, Yossi Beilin:
n the last 20 years, the Oslo Accords have turned from a dream into a nightmare for their main architect, Israeli left-wing politician Yossi Beilin.
“Enough is enough, it has to die,” Beilin told The Jerusalem Post on the eve of the anniversary of the famous Sept. 13, 1993 handshake on the White House lawn between then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat and US president Bill Clinton.
Why didn’t he have this insight at the time? It is quite mind-boggling.
On the positive side, after over a year of work on the process, Beilin said, “It was like a bar mitzva for me. Everyone hugged me and congratulated me.” He imagined then that the five-year negotiating track Oslo set out would indeed culminate in a two-state solution that would end the conflict.
But he feared that the ceremony that marked mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, and the first direct legal negotiations between the sides was premature, because it gave the false impression that peace had already arrived.
With the onset of Oslo, the PLO leadership under Arafat, which had been exiled in Tunisia, was allowed to return to the area. Through Oslo, under a newly created government called the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians were granted civilian autonomy of 40 percent of the West Bank. This included all the Palestinian cities and many of their outlying villages, now known as Areas A and B.
The Palestinians were also granted the right to a police force in order to maintain internal law and order. A host of joint committees were set up for Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on issues of mutual interest, such as security, economics, water, electricity, the environment, transportation, labor and trade.
When the negotiation portion of Oslo broke down in 2000, its operational changes continued for the next 13 years through other peace initiatives such as the Road Map and Annapolis, and they remain legally binding, according to Israel’s former ambassador to Canada Alan Baker, who served as Israel’s legal adviser on the Oslo Accords.
Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999, this week recalled the skepticism he felt as he watched the White House ceremony on television from his Jerusalem home.
“I felt this could either produce a breakthrough in peace or a total disaster. I was tending to think it could lead to a disaster,” Gold said, as he sat in his office in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Gold was struck by concerns raised by people close to the process, including some close to Rabin. Gold said he felt it was put together too quickly, and placed politics over security.
Security concerns, both in light of territorial issues and terror concerns, was one of the central problematic issues, said Gold.
“The process was riddled with problems. Rather than start with Israel’s security requirements, which I was aware of, and then construct a political settlement that would protect Israel’s security, it worked in the exact opposite way – of first coming to a political agreement and then asking the army to break its head finding a solution,” Gold said.
On top of that, he explained, “You were taking an organization which was on your terrorist list, living in Tunisia, and which was on the losing side of history and you were planting it in Gaza and the West Bank.” It raised obvious questions, he said.
Oslo is the document used by Israel to object to Palestinian unilateral statehood efforts at the UN and the International Criminal Court, Gold said.
But Beilin maintained that Oslo’s positive impact has been replaced by negative results, as a process designed to last five years has hit is 20th anniversary.
In his worst nightmare, he said, he never imagined this scenario.
As an interim agreement, Beilin said, the Oslo Accords function as a document that allows the status quo to continue.
“Now it has to end,” Beilin said.
He charged that it provides only a fig leaf of autonomy for the Palestinians.
“It is being used or abused by those who opposed it at the beginning, so that it became a kind of an umbrella for the continuation of the settlements,” Beilin said.
“It became the asylum for those who do not want to solve the problem. It does not serve those who want an independent state, and those who want to save Israel as a democratic and Jewish state,” Beilin said.
He is among those who hope that the results of the latest round of peace negotiations that began in late July under US Secretary of State John Kerry will lead to a document that would replace Oslo.
He does not believe, he said, that it is possible to come to a final-status agreement within Kerry’s nine-month timetable.
But, he said, it would be possible to come an interim agreement that is part of a gradual process toward a permanent one.
I hope this is not more of his delusions. Another deluded “peace-maker”, Ron Pundak, also expresses sorrow though no regrets at his part in the Accords.
Those dangerous delusions of Pundak, Beilin, Peres and Savir were what persuaded a reluctant Rabin to begin this sorry destructive tale of woe. May the new year bring an end to its curses and may the blessings begin.