No doubt, Oslo's frustrating result derives from
a complex process that is riddled by internal
contradictions, an accord forged by individuals
and forces harboring an array of motives.
Nonetheless, as we view the decade in
retrospect, it is crucial to identify the role
Israel played in Oslo's demise.
In fact, the reason for Israel's contribution to
the failure is not hard to find: it boils down
to Israel's refusal to leave the territories.
. . . .
Expressing Israel's official readiness to
recognize the national rights of the
Palestinian people, the Oslo agreement
constituted an historic turning point. In this
respect, it will in the future remain a
milestone in the fashioning of relations
between the two sides. However, the agreement
did not give birth to a true internal
readiness, both reasoned and an emotional
readiness, for the necessity of leaving the
territories so the Palestinian people could
establish a state there. Without such
readiness, there is no prospect of forging a
Whether the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is
rooted in religious hostility, or whether it is
based on a national feeling of injustice, or
whether it is a direct consequence of the
conquest of the territories, there can be no
solution to it without Israel's withdrawal to
the Green Line border of pre-1967. Whoever
insists on the continuation of Israeli
occupation in the territories consigns the
sides to an eternal dispute. This is because no
Palestinian leader will ever be able to secure
his people's assent to the conquest.
Since September 1993, this elementary truth has
eluded all of Israel's prime ministers. Those
who might have grasped the truth recoiled from
translating it into practical policy. Rabin,
Peres, Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon have played
a two-sided game: with one hand, they conducted
negotiations with the Palestinians for the
application of an agreement whose design would
seemingly enable them to establish a state of
their own; with the other hand, they authorized
the expansion of Israel's presence in
territories set out for the Palestinian state.
This approach created, or created a pretext
for, indiscriminate Palestinian terror, and the
use or abuse to which Arafat has put such
terror; and the approach now has Israel mired
in a multi-dimensional crisis that threatens
the future of the Zionist enterprise.