Errors and Successes of the Oslo Agreement

(Fathom-BICOM-UK) Col. (ret.) Joel Singer - The main error of Rabin and Peres in deciding to enter into the Oslo Agreement with Arafat in the early 1990s was that they were misled to believe that Arafat had changed from being a terrorist. Rabin and Peres had concluded that if Arafat was strong enough to prevent anyone else from making a deal with Israel, then he surely must be the only one capable of making such a deal. The messages that Arafat sent to Israel in Oslo conveyed that he was prepared to make a historic deal. For these reasons, Arafat was perceived by Rabin and Peres as the ideal negotiating partner, a hawkish leader who, when circumstances changed, would be prepared to rise to the occasion and enforce his decisions against any opposition. But, when Hamas and other terrorist organizations started killing Israelis, Arafat proved himself to be unable and unwilling to stop terrorism. Moreover, when the negotiating parties reached the important issues, Arafat constantly sought internal Palestinian consensus, which required the agreement of Hamas, whose main objective continued to be the destruction of Israel. Arafat's heir, Mahmoud Abbas, while perhaps a bit more willing, is even less capable of making the kind of historic decisions that are required to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No wonder that the Oslo-based peace process has all but come to a standstill. The most important accomplishment of Oslo is the existence of an autonomous Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that is handling most of the daily affairs of most of the Palestinians. They are building strong security forces that, at least in the West Bank, are cooperating quite successfully with Israeli forces. Oslo enables the two parties to keep building their relations even before they have resolved their most fundamental disagreements. The writer, former head of the International Law Department of the IDF and legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was the Israeli delegation's legal adviser to the Oslo talks, involved in negotiating all the Oslo implementing agreements.

2018-08-31 00:00:00

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