The Lies After Oslo
Ze'ev Schiff, Ha’aretz, 30 May 2003
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If we want to increase the chances of success for the
diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians, which is starting
this time from the "road map," we first have to examine why the Oslo Accords
The failure of the Oslo agreements stems primarily from the
flawed implementation and not from the inherent desire to reach an agreement
between the two peoples. These flaws, which cropped up quickly along the way
and were based on lies and covering up for these lies, led to the armed
confrontation that began in September, 2000. The main lessons are, among
1. Both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians equally and
in fact also the American mediators, did not understand that prolonged
procrastination in the implementation of sensitive agreements opens the door
to actions by extremists on both sides, the aim of which is to torpedo any
compromise. The procrastination created gaps into which the Hamas and the
Islamic Jihad penetrated with their acts of terrorism, and from the other
side came Baruch Goldstein, who carried out the massacre at the Tomb of the
Patriarchs in Hebron.
2. It was wrong to have related indifferently to the economic
decline of the Palestinians in the territories. Both sides spoke loftily,
but despite the agreements that had been reached, the standard of living for
the Palestinians in the territories began to drop. Many Palestinians found
it hard to understand how this went along with the peace process and lost
their motivation. Hence, progress in carrying out diplomatic agreements must
be accompanied by economic achievements as well.
3. It was a fundamental mistake to have relied on Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat alone to carry out all the commitments he
had taken upon himself and not to have involved the pragmatic Arab states to
a greater extent in the supervision of the implementation of the agreements.
Only after the armed intifada broke out did the Arab states wake up to the
possibility that the military conflict endangered the stability of the
region. The Egyptian failure as the leader of the Arab world was prominent
because in Cairo they did not understand that nurturing the hostility
against Israel was a green light for the fanners of hatred among the
4. A key lesson has to do with the lies that each side
nurtured to the effect that it had supposedly worked to implement the
agreements. The Israeli lie had to do with the Jewish settlement campaign
and the confiscation of lands in the territories. After the agreements were
signed, Jewish settlement in the territories gained great momentum.
Settlements and outposts were established and lands were confiscated for
roads or other purposes. This has continued to this day, when they are
seeking ways to get "legal" imprimatur for the deed. For the Palestinians
the significance was that facts have been determined on the ground that that
will prevent them from establishing a genuine political entity.
The Palestinian lie was manifested in incitement to hatred
and afterward in bloodshed that actually increased during the tenures of
Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres as prime minister. In parallel, the smuggling
of weapons into the territories continued and no real effort was made to
collect illegal arms. It is no wonder that Israeli intelligence concluded
that Arafat had in fact given a green light to terror.
The Americans usually ignored the lies because for them the main thing was
rapid progress, which was subsequently revealed to be a journey on shifting
sands. If the system of lies and whitewashing continues after the "road map"
- failure is assured. Even now there are negative signs of the perpetuation
of this shoddy system when the Americans say to the breaking of a
substantive promise by the Palestinians that the main thing is to move
forward. If there is not immediate attention to substantive violations, once
again we will find ourselves in the post-Oslo mine field.
Ze'ev Schiff is the military affairs editor of Ha’aretz.
From the Common Ground News Service