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September 12, 2003 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-12

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Ten Years After Oslo

Editor's note: Ten years ago this month, Israelis and Jews around the world watched the famous handshake on the White House lawn with a sense of history in
the making. Some believed the Oslo Agreement was the harbinger of peace and the guarantor ofIsrael's Attire as a Jewish and democratic state. Others saw it as
a grave diplomatic error that allowed Israel's mortal enemies the foothold they long had sought.
A decade later, Israel is convulsed by violence and terrorism — but some believe the road-map peace plan may present a way out. Dore Gold and Dennis Ross,
intimately involved with the Oslo process, reflect on the lessons of the past decade, and how they can inform today's diplomatic efforts.

Learn The Lessons Of Oslo


perform we would publicly say
ept. 13 will mark the
who was living up to the
10th anniversary of
agreements and who was not.
the famous handshake
Though this seems to be an
between Israeli Prime
obvious lesson — and
Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
President Bush has spoken of
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat
holding each side accountable
at the White House. The high
— the pattern of the past
hopes of that day have long
remains present today.
since vanished in a sea of
With the Mitchell report,
Spe cial
blood, with countless victims,
the Tenet security plan and
searing violence and profound
Comm entary now the road-map peace plan,
the problem was not the
Was Oslo doomed from the start?
absence of agreement; it was the
Some will say yes because Arafat, who
absence of implementation. Steps
became the Palestinian Authority pres-
called for were not taken. The road
ident, was never a partner for peace.
map was the least well-defined, with
As the American negotiator who
no clear understandings by each side
spent more time with him than did
of what was expected of them.
any other non-Palestinian, I came to
When the Palestinians agreed to a
the conclusion that Arafat was inca-
pable of making peace with Israel. He
could not give up his mythologies,
and he would not acknowledge that
Palestinians, too, would have to make
But it is far too easy to blame it all
on Arafat; doing so means that none
of the lessons of Oslo will be learned.
And there are important lessons that
must be learned if peacemaking — if
it ever resumes — is to be done in a
way that stands a chance of succeed-
While I believe there are many les-
sons from the past, let me single out
three here:
• First, peacemaking requires
accountability. One of the most pro-
found failures of Oslo was that neither truce — something not even in the
side lived up to its obligations. Both
road map — no questions were raised,
sides felt it easy to ignore what they
even though the truce became a reason
had agreed to do, and there was never
why the Palestinians were not willing
a consequence.
to go after the terrorist infrastructure,
If Israelis and Palestinians alike
something that was an essential part of
wanted the United States in the
the road map.
process, then each needed to know
If there are going to be plans, under-
that we would hold them to their
standings of what is required must be
commitments and that if they did not
clear and the consequences of nonper-
formance must be spelled out from the
Dennis Ross, director and Ziegler Fellow beginning.
• Second, both sides must prepare
a L- the Washington Institute for Near East
publics for compromise. People-
Policy, was President Clinton's envoy to
programs that break down
the Middle East. His book, "The Missing
Peace," will be published next year.
Ross on page 40

Palestinians Don't Want Peace

ultimate strategic goal of
ntelligence errors usual-
recovering the entire territo-
ly are associated with
ry of British Mandatory
military disasters like
Palestine — including the
Pearl Harbor or the
area of Israel.
1973 Yom Kippur War, not
It would be a mistake to
with diplomacy. Yet the last
assign this intention to PLO
decade of the Israeli-
leader Yasser Arafat alone.
Palestinian peace process
After all, it was the PLO's
may involve such an error of
top official for Jerusalem,
Spe cial
Faisal Husseini, who on two
Looking back now, 10
Comm entary separate occasions in 2001
years after the signing of the
described Oslo as a "Trojan
1993 Oslo Accords, it's clear that the Horse" that served the realization of
failure to reach an Israeli-Palestinian
"the strategic goal — namely,
agreement cannot be attributed to a
Palestine from the river to the sea."
lack of political will on the Israeli
Similarly, the leader of the Fatah
side or the failure of the United
movement in the West Bank,
States to deal more forcibly with
Marwan Barghouti, told the New
Yorker that even if Israel withdrew
from 100 percent of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict would not end.
What was needed, he said, was "one
state for all the peoples."
Arafat, who after Oslo became
head of the Palestinian Authority,
usually was more careful about con-
Israeli Prime
cealing his true intentions, but they
Minister Yitzhak
nonetheless could be discerned.
Rabin, left,
Right from 1994, he disclosed his
shakes hands on
view of Oslo as a temporary Islamic
Sept. 13, 1993,
truce. But he generally would speak
with PLO
so forthrightly only in closed-door
Chairman Yasser
meetings in places like South Africa
Arafat as
or Sweden.
President Bill
More recently, he frequently sent
Clinton looks on.
messengers to Palestinian cities to
speak on his behalf. Thus the official
Rather, it has to do with the more
Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida
fundamental question of whether the on Jan. 30, 2001, carried an address
leadership of the PLO really was pre- in Arafat's name by an ideologue
pared for reconciliation and peace
affiliated with Arafat's Fatah move-
with Israel.
ment, Sakher Habash, that asserted:
The overwhelming evidence from
"Experience proves that without
statements by the PLO leadership
the establishment of the democratic
was that it viewed the Oslo process
state on all the land, peace will not
as a tactical necessity to realize its
be realized ... The Jews must get rid
of Zionism ... They must be citizens
Dore Gold is president of the Jerusalem
in the state of the future, the state of
Democratic Palestine."
Center for Public Affairs. From 1992'-
The big question raised by these
1999, he served as Israel's ambassador to
recent quotations is: Why did the
the United Nations. He is the author of
Israeli and U.S. governments invest
"Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia
Supports the New Global Terrorism."
GOLD on page 40

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