Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Oslo Accord

TRUMP’S SUPPORT PROVIDES ISRAEL WITH UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY

Israel Must Now Be Proactive: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017— The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Words and Silence Matter: Trump vs. Obama: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017 — U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas.

To Die for Estonia?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 1, 2017 — So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all?

The Flaws of "Oslo" Are the Same as the Flaws of Oslo: Neil Rogachevsky, Mosaic, May 17, 2017 — Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017

Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017

Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017

 

 

 

ISRAEL MUST NOW BE PROACTIVE

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017

 

The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. Trump’s visit to the Middle East region consolidated our status. We are in a remarkably good position. After years of relentless bias and harassment from the international community, led by our purported ally, the United States, we are now blessed with an American president who publicly expresses his love and support for, and alliance with, the Jewish state.

 

Those who dismiss as mere posturing Trump’s presence at the Western Wall, his very sensitive remarks at Yad Vashem and his warm and supportive speech at the Israel Museum simply fail to appreciate the profound political implication of his remarks. To that must be added his call on the Sunni states to confront Iranian terror and combat extremism, explicitly including anti-Semitism, within their ranks. Not to mention the revolutionary U.S. campaign to confront the anti-Israel obsession at the U.N. All of this represents a significant reversal of the tide in our favor.

 

In this context, one should also consider the dramatic success of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in developing economic and diplomatic links with Russia, India, China, Japan, and now Africa. To this can be added the incredible, almost overt relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states. One must be blind not to appreciate that these significant improvements in our international status have largely been achieved as a combined result of the deft diplomacy of Netanyahu and the new Trump administration policy.

 

In fact, today, we have an extraordinary, unique window of opportunity. But it requires us to take the initiative and display our willingness to cooperate with Trump’s peace initiatives on condition that our security is not compromised. Netanyahu must show leadership and initiate steps and not merely respond to pressures. He should be prepared to implement a temporary freeze on construction in areas outside the settlement blocs that will always remain part of Israel. He should undertake to continue to strive toward enhancing the quality of life in the autonomous Palestinian areas and offer additional humanitarian assistance.

 

But this offer can only be made in the context of reciprocity. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must cease the incitement and end the disgraceful encouragement of killers, including the PA’s rewarding of their families with huge pensions amounting to over 300 million dollars annually for their crimes. He must also recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease demanding the “right of return” to Israel of Arab refugees and their descendants which would amount to the dissolution of the Jewish state. A solution to dealing with Hamas will also need to be considered.

 

Until this happens, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate borders or even contemplate a Palestinian state. Despite his assurances about supporting peace, there is little likelihood of the duplicitous Abbas agreeing to any of these basic prerequisites. Should that be the case, we should call for an end to the phony peace process and, in conjunction with the U.S. and possibly even the Saudis, seek to create a working relationship with those living under Palestinian autonomy — if necessary, bypassing the current leadership. This will not eliminate terror but our security will be vastly enhanced if we have the support of the Americans.

 

Our main objective must be to promote the truth and cease providing cover for terrorist leaders who speak to the West with forked tongues endorsing peace, yet continue to incite their followers. If we can do this in tandem with the Americans, in due course we may resolve other issues, such as the formal annexation of the settlement blocs, recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and ensuring that Trump honors his undertaking to help the IDF retain its qualitative edge despite the arms buildup provided to the Saudis.

 

All of this is dependent on Trump not being persuaded like his predecessors that the easiest way to retain stability is to maintain a fake peace process, perpetuating the deplorable lie that this conflict is a struggle by two peoples over real estate. The cause of the conflict is the intransigence of the Palestinian leaders and their brainwashed citizens whose objective is not a two-state solution, but a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. To minimize the likelihood of this happening, Netanyahu must act now and demonstrate his willingness to explore any opportunity for peace…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

 

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WORDS AND SILENCE MATTER: TRUMP VS. OBAMA

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017

 

U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas. This is even more the case because of the damage a variety of statements — and lack of them — by his predecessor Barack Obama and the previous U.S administration have caused Israel.

 

There is much criticism in the U.S of President Trump and his unpredictability. It comes mainly from those who wanted and expected his opponent Hillary Clinton to win the election. The attacks on the current president however do not diminish the importance of his words in Israel. The current President’s  statements are all the more important as — contrary to the case with his predecessor — one “gets what one sees” with Trump.

 

Obama’s distorted, overly positive view of the Muslim world was already apparent early in his presidency. In his first trip abroad in 2009 he travelled to the non-democratic state of Egypt where he was received by President Husni Mubarak. The 2008 report of Freedom House ranked Egypt as a non-free country with a rating of 5.5 on a scale from 1 as best to 7 as worst. The report stated: “Egypt received a downward trend arrow due to its suppression of journalists’ freedom of expression, repression of opposition groups, and the passage of constitutional amendments that hinder the judiciary’s ability to balance against executive excess.”

 

On that trip Obama intentionally bypassed U.S ally Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The American president did not berate the undemocratic character of the Egyptian regime. Instead in his 2009 Cairo speech Obama apologized for Western “colonialism.” His sympathy did not help U.S. ally Mubarak during the Arab spring, when Obama stabbed him in the back and pressured him to make concessions. Obama hypocritically argued that his criticism of Netanyahu gave him credibility when defending the Jewish state in the world arena. But the Obama administration also regularly criticized Israel for "settlement building" as well as other issues and this stands in sharp contrast to Obama’s avoidance of linking terrorist acts to Islam. Nor did he mention the wide support for undemocratic behavior in the Muslim world.

 

Obama admitted that he refrained from using the words “Islamic terror” in describing Middle East extremism. The Obama administration referred to terror attacks by Muslims as “lone wolf attacks” and refused to use the term “radical Islam.” The terms “Islam” and “jihad,” “Islamic extremism,” radical Islamic terrorism,” and “radical Islam” were banned from US Security documents.

 

The U.S has for a long time been Israel’s main ally. If a U.S administration is repeatedly so critical of Israel while remaining silent about the criminal behavior of its enemies, this can be interpreted as a signal to other countries. It has a negative multiplier effect. The Europeans were most probably encouraged by Obama’s biased attitude to go beyond just criticizing Israel. Their labelling of goods from the territories while not doing the same for other similar areas in the world is an example. When Trump had already been elected as President, Obama let Israel down in yet another signal of encouragement to its enemies. The U.S abstained on Security Council resolution 2334 demanding an end to Israeli settlements. Trump had asked him to veto the resolution.

 

One would have expected international media to analyze these matters in some detail after the Trump Middle East visit. If one checks Google on this subject many reports focus on a comparison of the notes the two presidents wrote at Yad Vashem. This marginal subject became the first significant topic in a lengthy article in the Washington Post. It was titled “The huge contrast between Obama’s and Trump’s visits to Israel’s Holocaust memorial.”

 

Trump did not mention the two state ‘solution’ in his speeches. Why should a U.S president preclude the outcome of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? Or promise the creation of a second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan? Under Palestinian Authority leadership this state would be another corrupt Arab entity with substantial chances of failing. Yet another logical reason not to mention the two state ‘solution’ is that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip. Nor did Trump mention "settlements." There was no reason to do so. The central topic in Trump’s speeches in the Middle East focused on the fight against terror. It is worth noting that Trump did mention to the Palestinians that they should stop glorifying terrorist murderers of civilians, which sometimes also include Americans.

 

During his visit to Europe Trump continued to set the record straight. He reprimanded NATO leaders in Brussels, saying that 23 out of 28 did not meet their financial commitments to the organization. He said: “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.” This was a euphemism for saying that they are parasites relying on the U.S. The EU and several European states have been arrogantly telling Israel for many years how it should run its internal affairs. The idea that EU leaders are being told to own up to their commitments is considered unpleasant by many European leaders. From an Israeli viewpoint it is very positive that Trump told them off on their failures.

 

After Trump’s visit many European leaders may be nostalgic for Obama, who was partly responsible for letting the Middle East chaos develop and the diminishment of U.S standing in the world. Yet as Alan Dershowitz said about his fellow Harvard law graduate Barack Obama: He will be remembered as “one of the worst presidents in the foreign policy arena,’ who created a ‘terrible conflict’ for people who share other tenets of his ideology.”                              

 

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TO DIE FOR ESTONIA?

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, June 1, 2017

 

So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all? What’s the big deal? Didn’t he affirm a general commitment to NATO during his visit? Hadn’t he earlier sent his vice president and secretaries of state and defense to pledge allegiance to Article 5? And anyway, who believes that the United States would really go to war with Russia — and risk nuclear annihilation — over Estonia?

 

Ah, but that’s precisely the point. It is because deterrence is so delicate, so problematic, so literally unbelievable that it is not to be trifled with. And why for an American president to gratuitously undermine what little credibility deterrence already has, by ostentatiously refusing to recommit to Article 5, is so shocking. Deterrence is inherently a barely believable bluff. Even at the height of the Cold War, when highly resolute presidents, such as Eisenhower and Kennedy, threatened Russia with “massive retaliation” (i.e., all-out nuclear war), would we really have sacrificed New York for Berlin? No one knew for sure. Not Eisenhower, not Kennedy, not Khrushchev, not anyone. Yet that very uncertainty was enough to stay the hand of any aggressor and keep the peace of the world for 70 years, the longest period without war between the Great Powers in modern history.

 

Deterrence does not depend on 100 percent certainty that the other guy will go to war if you cross a red line. Given the stakes, merely a chance of that happening can be enough. For 70 years, it was enough. Leaders therefore do everything they can to bolster it. Install tripwires, for example. During the Cold War, we stationed troops in Germany to face the massive tank armies of Soviet Russia. Today we have 28,000 troops in South Korea, 12,000 near the demilitarized zone. Why? Not to repel invasion. They couldn’t. They’re not strong enough. To put it very coldly, they’re there to die. They’re a deliberate message to the enemy that if you invade our ally, you will have to kill a lot of Americans first. Which will galvanize us into full-scale war against you.

 

Tripwires are risky, dangerous and cynical. Yet we resort to them because parchment promises are problematic and tripwires imply automaticity. We do what we can to strengthen deterrence. Rhetorically as well. Which is why presidents from Truman on have regularly and powerfully reaffirmed our deterrent pledge to NATO. Until Trump. His omission was all the more damaging because of his personal history. This is a man chronically disdainful of NATO. He campaigned on its obsolescence. His inaugural address denounced American allies as cunning parasites living off American wealth and generosity. One of Trump’s top outside advisers, Newt Gingrich, says that “Estonia is in the suburbs of St. Petersburg,” as if Russian designs on the Baltic states are not at all unreasonable.

 

Moreover, Trump devoted much of his Brussels speech, the highlight of his first presidential trip to NATO, to berating the allies for not paying their fair share. Nothing particularly wrong with that, or new — half a century ago Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield was so offended by NATO free riding that he called for major reductions of U.S. troops in Europe. That’s an American perennial. But if you’re going to berate, at least reassure as well. Especially given rising Russian threats and aggression. Especially given that Trump’s speech was teed up precisely for such reassurance. An administration official had spread the word that he would use the speech to endorse Article 5. And it was delivered at a ceremony honoring the first and only invocation of Article 5 — ironically enough, by the allies in support of America after 9/11. And yet Trump deliberately, defiantly refused to simply say it: America will always honor its commitment under Article 5.

 

It’s not that, had Trump said the magic words, everyone would have 100 percent confidence we would strike back if Russia were to infiltrate little green men into Estonia, as it did in Crimea. But Trump’s refusal to utter those words does lower whatever probability Vladimir Putin might attach to America responding with any seriousness to Russian aggression against a NATO ally. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday (without mentioning his name) that after Trump’s visit it is clear that Europe can no longer rely on others. It’s not that yesterday Europe could fully rely — and today it cannot rely at all. It’s simply that the American deterrent has been weakened. And deterrence weakened is an invitation to instability, miscalculation, provocation and worse.                                                

 

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THE FLAWS OF "OSLO" ARE THE SAME AS THE FLAWS OF OSLO

Neil Rogachevsky

Mosaic, May 17, 2017

 

Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. The agreement signed on September 13, 1993 established the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the official representative body of the Palestinian people and permitted its chairman, Yasir Arafat, to return to the West Bank after his extended isolation in Tunisia. Committing Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a final-status agreement, the so-called Oslo Accords opened the era of the peace process.

 

It is worth recalling the buoyant atmosphere that characterized not only that particular moment on the South Lawn but, more generally, the period in world history in which it occurred. Most dramatically, the cold war with the Soviet Union had ended in a triumph for the United States and its form of liberal democracy. If this was not quite the “end of history,” as a major public-policy essay had conjectured, the fall of the mighty Soviet empire raised similarly exuberant expectations for other arenas of conflict. Why, after all, couldn’t Israelis and Palestinians make peace?

 

To some, all the elements were in place. The Palestinians, it was averred, were willing to come to the table, and Israel was open, forward-looking, and “hopeful.” Its Labor-party leadership—not only the war hero Rabin but also Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak—had set aside any remaining illusions of permanent occupation. Having marginalized the “territorial maximalists,” Israelis were prepared to make the painful compromises for peace—a dynamic that President Bill Clinton, a friend of Israel, could help push along.

 

As even ardent supporters of the ensuing peace process will admit, things did not—to put it mildly—go according to plan, and the final-status agreement never came about. Today, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s (quite possibly fleeting) enthusiasm for the project, even the beginning of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority seems highly unlikely. The optimism that greeted the apparent breakthrough of 1993, however understandable in light of the cultural atmosphere of the time, in retrospect seems downright delusional. Yet many Westerners, Jewish and gentile alike, still look back at the Oslo years as a kind of golden age, one that shines only the brighter in contrast to the allegedly dark present.

 

Was Oslo a golden age? Those inclined to that belief now have the gift of a cleverly constructed drama that supports, and flatters, their view. Written by the New York playwright J.T. Rogers, Oslo tells the backstory of the Norwegian-brokered talks between informal envoys of the Israeli foreign ministry and the PLO over a ten-month period in 1992-93. Nearly three hours long, the play is heavy on dialogue and mostly lacking in the bells and whistles of many major New York productions. Nevertheless, by any non-Hamilton standard the play has been a hit, having moved from its debut last year at a small off-Broadway venue to the much bigger Lincoln Center Theater. On the evening I saw it, the crowd, more Upper West Side than Upper Midwest, gave the performers a rapturous standing ovation.

 

One might attribute this fervor at least in part to our own, highly fractious times, in which political, not to say partisan, drama is ripe for a comeback. But Oslo, which has been nominated for a 2017 Tony Award, is also an effective piece of indoctrination, mirroring, to a subtle but powerful degree, the dominant political mentality that helped produce the disastrous Oslo Accords themselves. Aside from the iconic Rabin-Arafat handshake, the whole story of the Oslo negotiations is not especially well known, and Rogers deserves credit for telling it with relative fidelity. The events are seen from the perspective of three Norwegian diplomats: Terje Rød-Larsen and his wife Mona Juul, and Jan Egeland. Thanks to a shared zeal, whose motive is never examined, the three navigate all manner of obstacles in order to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in secret negotiations at a country house south of Oslo, where the play is largely set.

 

Indeed, the play quite artfully stresses the single most astonishing fact about the Oslo talks: not only were they secret, but, on the Israeli side, they were at first completely unauthorized. At the time, Israelis were forbidden by law from having direct contact with PLO officials. It was Yossi Beilin, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, who unilaterally decided that flouting the law was justified by the end he sought. In December 1992, Beilin asked Yair Hirschfeld, a University of Haifa economist, to meet in London with the PLO’s finance minister, Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala. In January and early February, at further meetings in Norway, Hirschfeld and another economist, Ron Pundak, began drafting with the PLO team a document offering an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian administration in the West Bank, and direct negotiations regarding a final-status accord.

 

Prodded along by the committed and good-humored Norwegians, the play shows us, the participants found their mutual mistrust and hatred giving way to grudging respect and then a kind of friendship. The other side was humanized, which in turn led to recognition of its grievances and rights—grievances and rights that the Palestinian side, particularly, is portrayed in the play as having been more justified in holding on to. Eventually, higher-level Israelis—Uri Savir of the foreign ministry and Joel Singer, a lawyer and confidant of Prime Minister Rabin—replaced the economists in an effort to hammer out a final draft according to which, in exchange for the aforementioned concessions, the PLO would renounce violence and recognize the state of Israel…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017 —On Thursday, US President Donald Trump bowed to the foreign policy establishment and betrayed his voters. He signed a presidential waiver postponing the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for yet another six months.

Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017—Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in U.S.-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.”

Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017—London, Manchester, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Kabul, Baghdad, the global carnage continues.

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017—When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mordechai Nisan: THE TWO-STATE DELUSION

Two decades after the signing of the declaration of principles (DOP) by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on the White House lawn, there is something unreasonable in the world's continued adherence to the Oslo paradigm, tattered and battered as it is by years of a bloody fiasco. The Palestinian Arab leadership has consistently and adamantly rejected the two-state solution since its first articulation in 1937 by the British Peel commission[1] and has, as consistently, advocated the destruction of the Jewish state. Still, it undertook a successful public relations campaign in the 1980s promoting the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—"the occupied territories."

 

Twenty years of Oslo, filled with optimism and enthusiasm and adorned with Nobel prizes, like the ones held here by Arafat, Peres and Rabin (l-r) have delivered no peace for either side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Firmly entrenched in its place, however, is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance written on a grand political scale, as the failed Oslo paradigm is revived again and again.

 

Over the years and especially in the wake of the DOP, the Palestinian demand for statehood has gained rapid political momentum and international acceptance. A succession of Israeli prime ministers—from Shimon Peres, to Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Binyamin Netanyahu—embraced the idea, as did U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The paradigm for a final peace includes among its primary components Israeli territorial withdrawal and Palestinian sovereignty, political separation with reconciliation, compromise, and coexistence.

 

Yet twenty years on, the two parties find themselves further apart despite years of diplomatic wrangling. It is thus past time to examine and invalidate the paradigm that has taken hold in the hope that a new and less sanguinary one will take root.

A History of Failure

 

The concept of a Palestinian state appears just and reasonable. It evolves from the notion of a right to national self-determination for the stateless Palestinian people and their demand to end an Israeli presence in the territories captured in 1967. The terminology of decolonization regarding Jews who have settled in those territories fits this narrative of thwarted native Palestinian rights; ending the "illegality" of Israeli rule over the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem is a global political stipulation for conflict-resolution. From the November 1988 resolution in Algiers that called for Palestinian independence to the extensive diplomatic campaign of September 2011 to promote Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, the PLO dramatically altered the political parameters of the conflict and its resolution. In sketching the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine as representing complementary rather than contradictory elements in the puzzle of peace-making, values of equality and freedom radiated from both sides.

 

The Palestinian state idea had been proposed repeatedly in the post-1967 era,[2] and its feasibility, viability, and desirability were analyzed and advocated again and again. The idea was central to the Arab-originated Fahd plan of 1981 and the Fez plan of 1982 and was reintroduced two decades later in 2002 by the Saudis as the Beirut peace plan. On the Jewish side, the nongovernmental Council for Peace and Security founded in 1988 was book-ended by the so-called Geneva initiative of 2003—headed by two failed politicians, Yossi Beilin and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak—with centrist Labor and leftist political parties contributing their own details along the way, all promoting a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The two-state solution emerged within PLO circles in 1988 when Bassam Abu Sharif, a political advisor to Arafat, presented a position paper on the theme.[3]

 

However, when the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO were signed in September 1993, there was no explicit mention that the peace process would culminate in a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had in 1974 rejected the notion of a "third state" between Israel and Jordan,[4] had reiterated this position in an autobiographical work in 1979, contending that a Palestinian "mini-state" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would serve as a stage toward the "secular, democratic state of Palestine" that would rise "on the ruins of the state of Israel."[5] Four years before concluding the historic agreement with Arafat at the White House, Rabin asserted that a Palestinian state would be a time-bomb for chaos and warfare,[6] and even with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994, it remained Rabin's belief that the final version of the Palestinian entity must be less than a sovereign state.[7]

 

With that said, Palestinian sovereignty was, nevertheless, anticipated as the end-product of the Oslo process. Israel had acknowledged Palestinian peoplehood and rights in the 1978 Camp David-negotiated framework agreement for Middle East peace. It then recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, agreed to the founding of the PA and its police force in 1994, and implemented territorial withdrawals from towns and rural areas in Judea-Samaria and Gaza in 1994-97. The International Donors' Committee provided billions of dollars in aid to the PA, which established institutions for what could be termed a state in formation. Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party in 1993, said he would abrogate the Oslo accords, but as prime minister in 1996, he failed to do so.[8] The Hebron protocol of January 1997 and the Wye River memorandum of October 1998 demonstrated that Netanyahu operated within the Oslo paradigm for peace by relinquishing Israeli control over land, which was linked to explicit Palestinian obligations such as combating terrorist organizations and preventing incitement. Soon afterward, the Israeli government cancelled additional withdrawals because the PLO did not fulfill its commitments but not because Jerusalem dispensed with the Oslo idea.

Faith in Oslo did not dissolve even when failure struck over and over again. In July 2000 at the Camp David summit, Ehud Barak offered Arafat Palestinian statehood with control over approximately 92 percent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and a political capital in the vicinity of Jerusalem. But Arafat spurned the offer, and a reign of terror and suicide-bombing ensued.

 

Despite the basic breakdown of diplomacy and although U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross admitted that Oslo had failed, he remained convinced—having written eight hundred pages of close text detailing the intricacies, efforts, obstacles, formulae, and setbacks regarding "the missing peace"—that "there is room for creative diplomacy."[9] Should failure not have brought about a reevaluation and some change in policy orientation?

 

In January 2002, President Bush called for an "end to occupation and [for] a peaceful democratic Palestinian state" as the prescription for peace, a formula endorsed a year later by the international "Quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations). Another year later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also hitched onto the Palestinian state bandwagon as did his successors in Jerusalem—Olmert and Netanyahu—a few years hence. Yet negotiations, such as those between Olmert and PA president Mahmoud Abbas in the latter part of 2007, dragged on without results. The plethora of issues—from settlements and prisoners, to Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, to the Fatah/Hamas split—preoccupied and confounded the Israeli-Palestinian discussions without any satisfactory conclusion.[10]

On May 19, 2011, President Barack Obama affixed his name to the distinguished roster of supporters of a Palestinian state by advocating that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."[11] Netanyahu reacted sharply that the Palestinian state could not come at the "expense of Israeli existence," affirming that the 1967 borders were "indefensible."[12] This set the political stage for a dispute between Washington and Jerusalem and assured that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were not likely to renew soon. The Oslo paradigm was frozen: There were to be no negotiations, no Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state, and no peace in the offing. The three "nos" on Israel formulated at the 1967 Khartoum Arab summit—no negotiations, no recognition, and no peace—had been transformed and reformulated with their political core unchanged.[13]

 

Twenty years of the Oslo process filled with optimism and enthusiasm, adorned with Nobel prizes, grand summitry, and historic declarations that peace was "just around the corner" have delivered no peace. Firmly entrenched in its place, however, is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance written on a grand political scale. A final status agreement should have been consummated by 1999, five years following the "Gaza-Jericho First" stage in 1994, but neither Rabin's assassination in 1995 nor the murder of 1,084 Israelis from September 2000 to October 2010 (along with 250 from 1993 until July 2000)[14] could quash efforts at advancing the process. True believers continue to argue that once a Palestinian state in the territories is established, the Oslo paradigm will be validated. For those afflicted with "Osloitis," when the evidence counters their utopian paradigm, the bearer of bad news is defamed rather than commended for contributing to an alternative conceptual construct.

Oslo's Unaddressed Fallacies

 

At the heart of the failed Oslo paradigm are a core group of fallacies that have been promoted as truths: that the land can sustain two opposing population groups; that the Arab goal of destroying Israel can be appeased through "painful concessions" (rather than defeated by an Israeli victory); and that this is not a conflict based on something as elemental and incendiary as religion. Not one can withstand close scrutiny.

 

Geopolitical conflict is frequently a function of a dearth of resources and cannot be resolved by a mere wish for human harmony. In this case, both land and water are scarce, and the less than 40-mile width of the land from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River is insufficient to accommodate two rival states with expanding populations and vibrant national ambitions. While there are a few small states living cheek by jowl like the Netherlands and Luxembourg that are not at each others throats, they do not face the other factors that have contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.

 

There is, moreover, a great likelihood that a Palestinian state ensconced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would evoke a powerful zeal for further land concessions, not only from the Arabs of Ramallah or Nablus, but also among many Israeli Arabs in the Galilee, for example, of whom opinion surveys indicate their belief that Jews are foreigners in the Middle East.[15] Such a state could easily foment an insurgency within Israel, bringing along further disruptions and destruction in its wake. Indeed, the Palestinian belief that Tiberias, Haifa, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa are lost cities of Arab Palestine fuels a deep-seated rejectionism, which is manifested in the leadership's adamant refusal to recognize Israel's very right to exist as a Jewish state.[16]

Finally, the war against Israel is little more than a modern application of Qur'anic hostility toward Jews, expressing the ethos of jihad and the religious definition of Palestine as a sacred waqf (Islamic religious endowment). Buoyed with this faith and ideology, Iran and Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Muslim elements dedicate themselves to destroying Israel once and for all. In this, they are only more obvious than the so-called moderate Fatah leadership, which makes use of religious imagery and imperatives whenever it suits its purpose. A two-state solution is, in essence, a betrayal of Islam although a Palestinian state could become the springboard for the ongoing campaign to undermine, overrun, and eradicate the Jewish state—fi Sabil Allah (in the path of God). All this is so because, as article 15 of the Hamas covenant declares, "the Palestinian problem is a religious problem."[17]

 

The irrefutable conclusion is that the Oslo process brought no discernible change in the Palestinian attitude toward Israel. It remains a state that has to be eliminated. In May 2013, Mahmoud Abbas repeated the PLO's position that the Palestinians would refuse, as they indeed have, to recognize Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state.[18] Jibril Rajoub, Fatah Central Committee member, declared soon thereafter that the Palestinians were the enemies of Israel, adding that if the Palestinians had nuclear weapons they would use them.[19] No less acerbic was a remark by Jamal Zahalka, Arab member of Israel's Knesset, who on July 31, 2013, railed against his fellow-citizens and parliamentarians: "We [the Arabs] were here before you [the Jews], and we'll be here after you're gone."[20]

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (l) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet at a conference in Washington, D.C., on September 2, 2010. In May 2013, Abbas repeated the PLO's position that the Palestinians would refuse, as they indeed have, to recognize Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state.

 

In addition, the Oslo paradigm founders on the twin rocks of Palestinian factionalism and extremism as Palestinian society is hopelessly fissured by traditional identities and loyalties with extended family and tribal ties enduring despite a narrative of nationalism. The rural-urban split, the settled-refugee dichotomy, and the Muslim-Christian differentiation all confound integral social cohesion. Such a political tapestry, barely holding together despite decades of trying, baffles national unity, complicating the viability of any Palestinian state project becoming sturdy or stable.

 

These divisions have become further concretized by geopolitical partition. In 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza after Israel's disengagement-withdrawal from the strip two years earlier and the Islamists' electoral victory over Fatah in 2006. The 40-kilometer geographic separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, alongside the ideological and political enmity between Fatah-PA and Hamas, is a powerful obstacle to generating Palestinian unity. The conventional two-state proposal is a misnomer inasmuch as Gaza already constitutes a Palestinian "statelet," so that another Palestinian state based in the West Bank would actualize a three-state solution. The fathers of the Oslo accords could not imagine in their wildest dream such a bizarre turn of events.

 

Lastly, an ethic of extremism has been embedded in the culture of Palestinian politics for the last one hundred years, beginning with Hajj Amin Husseini (1897-1974) and continuing through the tenure of Yasser Arafat (1929-2004), with a slew of other noteworthy firebrands such as Izz al-Din al-Qassam (1882-1935) and Ahmad Yassin (1937-2004) throwing fuel on the blaze in between. Five days before the Oslo signing, Arafat told an Israeli journalist that one day there would be "a united state in which Israelis and Palestinians will live together" (without Israel)[21] while in 1996, after Oslo, he forecast Israel's collapse under the weight of an Arab return to the West Bank and Jerusalem, linked to psychological warfare that would convince the Israelis to emigrate.[22] The Arabs of Palestine have every reason to believe that the country is theirs alone because their leaders have been telling them that from the very beginnings of their own self-awareness as a people. For them, extremism is justified although this mental universe of self-delusion and fanaticism has not led them to a political victory.

Four Insurmountable Oslo Issues

 

Early in 1993, the Oslo negotiators concluded that a full and immediate resolution of the conflict was an impossible task, preferring instead to conceive of peace-making as a staged process rather than a single, decisive event. The major points of contention would be left to a later phase following the initial and practical launching of the accord. In the final status negotiations, peace would be achieved when the outstanding issues could be settled to the satisfaction of the Israelis and Palestinians alike.[23]

 

The religious-cum-political issue of the holy city of Jerusalem represented perhaps the most intractable problem to be resolved. Despite the Jewish people's millennial connections to Zion, Israel's June 1967 decision to apply its law and administration over the entire united city as its capital was rejected by the Palestinians and their abettors in the international community. At Camp David in July 2000, contorted and repeated efforts were made to formulate an agreement that would accord Palestinians sovereignty over the Arab-inhabited peripheral areas of Jerusalem, jurisdiction over the inner neighborhoods, and Palestinian governance over the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City. In these plans, the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, would be handed over to a Palestinian administration that claimed it as the al-Haram al-Sharif (sacred precinct). Prime Minister Barak's negotiating position, although it seemed to waver over the summit days, demanded Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem and the post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods around the city but also over the inner Arab-inhabited Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Wadi Joz. He firmly rejected Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Arafat apparently called for Palestinian sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.[24] In the end, Arafat spurned the deal, and the world will never know if further Israeli concessions, like recognizing absolute Muslim control and Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif, would have perhaps elicited Arafat's agreement. Palestinian militancy regarding Jerusalem has continued over the years, leading to assaults upon Jews in the Old City area and stoning attacks on the Temple Mount. These attacks have occurred despite an Israeli policy to limit and sometimes prohibit Jewish prayer on the mount. Self-imposed Israeli renunciation of Jewish religious rights merges with and perhaps evokes Palestinian violence.

 

One of the most intractable issues that the Oslo accord was supposed to resolve revolved around the status of Jerusalem. Despite a number of good-faith efforts to share the city proposed by Israeli negotiators, the Palestinians have spurned all offers. In fact, lines have hardened as evidenced by the confrontation seen here between Palestinians and Israeli police over the presence of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

An even greater sticking point is the final status of the so-called Palestinian refugees. The unyielding Palestinian demand that the "right of return" be acknowledged and implemented is a call for Palestinian "justice" that carries within it the seed for Israel's destruction. The "right of return" has become sacred dogma for Palestinians. Perhaps equally fixed is the Israeli rejection of the idea as suicidal for the Jewish state. A growing constituency of Arabs in Israel echoes the "return" theme.[25]

 

This Palestinian position, sustained by a contrived memory of forced dispossession and nurtured by political rigidity, has been met with an equally steadfast Israeli rejection although Barak was willing to concede a symbolic number of returning refugees in July 2000.[26] The refugee issue proves clearly that the Palestinian intent is to Arabize Israel and obliterate the Zionist enterprise. These are not the building blocks for the two-state solution envisaged by the Oslo negotiators.

 

Of late, the issue of the "settlements"—Jewish communities—has become the international community's bête noire. The Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, numbering more than 120 localities with more than 330,000 people, may have begun in part as a perceived security imperative, but early on, it also expressed the immutable right of the Jewish people to live in and control the Land of Israel west of the Jordan River. For the Palestinians however, these communities were concrete evidence of Zionist expansionism and colonial occupation. The Palestinian position has become monolithic, demanding a dismantling of all Israeli communities and the expulsion of all their residents.

 

Meanwhile, Israeli governments forged a public consensus around those population blocks to be retained in any future agreement, a position endorsed by President Bush in 2004.[27] The Palestinian position hardened further in 2010 when Abbas, encouraged by President Obama, demanded a complete cessation of all construction activity, not only in the territories but also in post-1967 Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Har Homa and Ramat Shlomo, which are on the eastern side of the city.[28] In short, the settlement issue brought the sides to political wrangling that froze the already-stalled Oslo process. A Judenrein West Bank, recalling what Menachem Begin did in expelling Jews when handing over the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982, and what Ariel Sharon similarly did in the Gaza Strip in 2005, was not the future that many Israelis had in mind when imagining the contours of peace.

 

The fourth intractable issue is one of borders. A final political map delineating the outline of a Palestinian state is tied to the Arab demand that Israel withdraw to the June 4, 1967 lines. No Israeli government ever agreed to such a total retreat, which runs counter to U.N. resolution 242, which established the land for peace formula in the wake of the 1967 war: Barak wavered between 88-93 percent of the West Barak while Sharon and Netanyahu considered withdrawal from perhaps 50 percent of the area.[29] Military control of the Jordan Valley remains of particular importance for Israel to prevent both future smuggling of weapons and terrorists through Jordan into Palestine and to constitute a defensive line for Israel's eastern front facing the Arab states across the river. Israel would have to evacuate 100,000 residents in the unlikely event that final borders would exclude many smaller Jewish localities dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria beyond the larger population centers such as Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, and the Etzion block.[30] This grim scenario alone would be sufficiently critical to hamper an agreement, considering the national trauma that resulted from the expulsion of 8,000 Gush Katif residents from Gaza in August 2005. This is not the kind of public atmosphere that would generate Israeli support, let alone enthusiasm, for any peace based on the Oslo parameters.

Conclusion

 

While Israelis consistently poll in support of a Palestinian state, the reasons for abandoning the idea have multiplied over time. Palestinian nationalism with its malignant and rogue features remains committed to destroying Zionism. The Fatah media and school curricula indoctrinate the Palestinian people and youth to disparage Jews as "evil" and Israel as a "cancer."[31] Palestinian military forces train for the possibility of future fighting with Israeli military forces,[32] and Palestinian diplomacy, like the recent failed attempt to get the U.N. to grant it unconditional statehood, remains the stuff of wily bazaar bargaining in a diplomatic war of attrition. It is clear that the Palestinian public has never really accepted the two-state solution as a final end to the conflict.[33] This was given vivid expression in the last interview by the late Faisal Husseini, the prominent PLO leader, who infamously compared the Oslo process to a Trojan horse that would bring about Israel's demise.[34] More recently, Abbas Zaki, Fatah Central Committee member, confessed that "it's not acceptable to say we want to wipe Israel out … It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself."[35]

 

Obstacles also exist in addressing the practical aspects and nitty-gritty details of a Palestinian state centered in the West Bank. Israel's security-related conditions regarding demilitarization and control of airspace and military monitoring stations on West Bank hilltops meet with unwavering Palestinian opposition on all counts.[36] A state of Palestine, founded in a moment of desperation and born in bitter acrimony, will lack the space to absorb millions of refugees should the expatriate Palestinian community opt for emigration and be fated for economic impoverishment (discounting the billions of dollars donated to the PA by the international community since 1994). Based on everything a dispassionate observer can testify to since the 1994 establishment of the Palestinian Authority, this Palestinian state, awkwardly sandwiched between Israel and Jordan, has all the likelihood of becoming a failed state—fragile, mismanaged, tending to disorder and civil war.[37]

 

As such, the two-state paradigm trumpeted by Oslo has been invalidated with the growth of the magnitude of dissonance. There is just no sound political basis for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. All basic final status issues escape resolution. Yet, there has never been an admission of error, let alone an apology by Peres or Bill Clinton, Bush, Sharon, Olmert, Obama, or Netanyahu in their advocacy of a two-state solution. Speaking of the predominant role played by Peres in the Oslo saga, the contemporary grand master of realpolitik, Henry Kissinger, once remarked that Peres had "the trait of French academics who tend to believe that the formulation of an idea is equivalent to its realization."[38] The same could be said of all those well-intentioned diplomats and politicians who have followed in Peres's footsteps. Small wonder that, notwithstanding the plan's abysmal failure and likely calamitous future, the intellectual brainwashing exercised by the Oslo paradigm has not yet loosened its grip over people's minds as evidenced most recently by John Kerry's heroic, but ultimately doomed, attempt to resuscitate the "peace process."[39]

 

    (Mordechai Nisan, CIJR Academic Fellow,  is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at other academic institutions in Israel. His most recent book is Only Israel West of the River (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).

 

[1] The Peel commission recommended the incorporation of the Arab part of western Palestine into Transjordan, ruled by Emir Abdullah ibn Hussein, rather than its constitution as an independent state.
[2] For example, Richard J. Ward, Don Peretz, and Evan M. Wilson, The Palestine State: A Rational Approach (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1977); Mark A. Heller, A Palestinian State: The Implications for Israel (Cambridge.: Harvard University Press, 1983).
[3] Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 2nd ed. (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009), pp. 535-8, 711-29.
[4] Yediot Aharonot (Tel Aviv), July 26, 1974.
[5] Yitzhak Rabin, Pinkas Sherut, vol. II (Tel Aviv: Ma'ariv, 1979), p. 583.
[6] Ma'ariv (Tel Aviv), Feb. 10, 1989.
[7] David Makovsky, Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government's Road to the Oslo Accord (Washington and Boulder: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Westview Press, 1996), p. 123.
[8] Yossi Beilin, "Oslo Kvar Betocheinu," Yisrael Hayom (Tel Aviv), July 27, 2011.
[9] Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), p. 800.
[10] "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Annapolis and After," Middle East Briefing, no. 22, International Crisis Group, Jerusalem/Washington/Brussels, Nov. 20, 2007.
[11] Barack Obama, remarks on the Middle East and North Africa, State Department, Washington, D.C., May 19, 2011.
[12] Al-Jazeera TV (Doha), May 19, 2011.
[13] "The Khartoum Resolutions," Sept. 1, 1967, The Jewish Virtual Library.
[14] Ross, The Missing Peace, p. 782.
[15] The Jerusalem Post, May 19, 2011.
[16] "My Country Palestine," Fatah PA TV, July 13, 2011, in MEMRI Bulletin, Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, D.C., July 26, 2011; YNet News (Tel Aviv), Aug. 28, 2011.
[17] "Hamas Covenant 1988," Yale Law School Avalon Project, accessed Oct. 29, 2013.
[18] Al-Hayat al-Jadida (Ramallah), May 4, 2013, quoted by Palestinian Media Watch, Jerusalem.
[19] Al-Mayadeen TV (Beirut), in Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, May 8, 2013.
[20] Israel Hayom, Aug. 1, 2013.
[21] Efraim Karsh, Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest (New York: Grove Press, 2003), pp. 59-60; idem, "Arafat Lives," Commentary, Jan. 2005.
[22] The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 1996; Yedidya Atlas, "Stockholm Revisited," Israel radio 7, May 10, 1996.
[23] Makovsky, Making Peace with the PLO, chap. 2-3.
[24] Shlomo Ben-Ami, Hazit Le'lo O'ref: Masa el Gvulot Tahalich Hashalom (Tel Aviv: Yediot Aharonot, 2004), pp. 165-95; Ross, The Missing Peace, pp. 686-7.
[25] L. Barkan, "Israeli Arab Leadership Jockeys for Central Role in Palestinian Leadership," Middle East Media Research Institute, Inquiry & Analysis Series Report, no.721, Aug. 11, 2011.
[26] Ron Pundak, "From Oslo to Taba: What Went Wrong?" Survival, Autumn 2001, pp. 31-45.
[27] The Washington Post, Apr. 15, 2004.
[28] YNet News, Nov. 10, 2010.
[29] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Nov. 4, 2006; The Times of Israel (Jerusalem), Feb. 19, 2013; "Peace Negotiations in Name Only," DebkaFile (Jerusalem), Sept. 23, 2013.
[30] Giora Island, "The Future of the Two-State Solution," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 8, 17, 2009.
[31] Al-Aqsa TV (Gaza), July 13, 2008; "Religious War," Palestinian Media Watch, Jerusalem, July 3, 2013.
[32] Gal Luft, "The Palestinian Security Forces: Capabilities and Effects on the Arab-Israeli Military Balance," Ariel Center for Policy Research, Shaarei Tikva, Oct. 2001; CNS News, July 7, 2008.
[33] Benny Morris, "Eliminating Israel," The National Interest, July 19, 2011.
[34] Al-Arabi (Cairo), June 6, 2001.
[35] The Blaze (New York and Dallas), Oct. 3, 2011.
[36] Dore Gold, "Banging Square Pegs into Round Holes," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dec. 2008.
[37] Charles W. Kegley, Jr., and Eugene R. Wittkopf, World Politics: Trend and Transformation, 7th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999), p. 372.
[38] Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999), p. 376.
[39] The New York Times, July 19, 2013.