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September 12, 2003 - Image 40

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

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stereotypes and make it harder to
demonize are important for making
compromise acceptable.
But leaders must lead the way. They
must condition their publics that com-
promise is going to be necessary.
Israelis must know that there will be
withdrawals, that they will evacuate
many settlements, that they cannot con-
trol Palestinians and that geographic
contiguity for Palestinians cannot be
finessed with tunnels and bridges.
Palestinians must know that there
will be no Palestinian state born of
violence; that terror will delegitimize
their cause; that they will have to
compromise on Jerusalem, borders,
and refugees — indeed, that the solu-
tion on refugees must permit a two-
state solution, not a one-state solu-
tion. Israel will be a Jewish state and
Palestinians must be prepared to rec-
ognize it as such.
Throughout Oslo, preparation of
publics was conspicuously absent,
especially on the Palestinian side —
where Arafat treated the very concept
of compromise on the permanent sta-
tus issues as a betrayal.
• Third, Arab leaders must assume
their responsibilities. The Arab role
during Oslo-was limited — in part
because the Palestinians only sought
their support but never their guidance;
and in part because Arab leaders were
fearful of being accused by Arafat ask-
ing the Palestinians to surrender their
national rights if they pressed him to
compromise on the core issues.

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so much in the Oslo process if it was
so clear that the PLO had no inten-
tion of making peace? Didn't they
consult with their intelligence estab-
lishments before investing presiden,
tial time at the failed Camp David
summit of 2000? Where was the
Central Intelligence Agency?
To its credit, Israeli military intel-
ligence flatly warned about the secu-
rity problems emanating from Oslo.
The then-intelligence chief, Maj.
Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, told the Israeli
daily Ma'ariv in 1998, "I cannot say
at any point since it entered the ter-
ritory in May 1994 that the
Palestinian Authority acted decisive-
ly against the terrorist operational
capability of Hamas, as well as the
Islamic Jihad."

But one clear lesson that is particu-
larly relevant today is that without the
Arabs, the Palestinians will be unable
either to confront their own rejection-
ists or to make concessions for peace.
As Palestinian Authority Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas tried to
confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad
while facing resistance from Arafat,
only Arab leaders could help create an
umbrella of legitimacy for him to act.
Abbas needed them to declare publicly
that Hamas and Islamic Jihad explod-
ed the cease-fire and are threatening
not just Palestinian interests, but the
cause itself.
Arab leaders must support a crack-
down on these groups and also exert
meaningful pressure on Arafat not to
block what Abbas was trying to do.
This is not the time to ask for
Arafat's help, which would only play
to his desire to show he is indispensa-
ble; it's time for Arafat to be shown
that Arab leaders will no longer
remain silent about his efforts to
undermine the former prime minister
they all supported.
In essence, it is time for Arab leaders
to assume their responsibilities if they
want to see a peace process that can
succeed. They, too, must have obliga-
tions and be accountable. They, too,
can help with the need to condition
for peace.
If they do, and if accountability
and the ethos of compromise
become part of our efforts to pro-
mote peace, we may not have to
lament the failed promise of Oslo in
another 10 years. ❑

But there were no public warnings
about the PLO's political intentions
in the Oslo peace process. Henry
Kissinger warned in his seminal
work, Diplomacy: "What political
leaders decide, intelligence services
tend to seek to justify."
Perhaps the U.S. and Israeli intelli-
gence establishments were intimidat-
ed by their political echelons. If
there is a lesson from all this, it is
that governments must allow their
intelligence communities the free-
dom to express themselves and pro-
mote intellectual pluralism if disas-
ters in the Middle East are to be
For diplomatic errors can be even
more costly than military blunders
— even if they were originally
undertaken with the best of inten-
tions. ❑

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