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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 failed.

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 other things:

  • 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 Palestinians.

  • 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
hagalil.com 15-06-2003



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