The Oslo accord was based on several premises:
• That peace could be obtained by creating a Palestinian state on land from which Israel would withdraw.
• That the PLO ultimately desired peace, and so could be a partner.
• That the PLO could transform itself from a terrorist group into a stable governing authority.
• That Palestinian attitudes would moderate as Israel made concessions, and a ‘virtuous cycle’ could be established.
• That there could be ‘solutions’ to the questions of Jerusalem and refugees that both sides could accept.
• That both sides would educate their people for peace.
Every one of these was false in 1993, and as time passed it became evident that they were not going to become true — indeed, Arab attitudes hardened. The transfer of power from the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat to the bureaucrat Mahmoud Abbas had no effect on them. In addition, the rise of Hamas created brand-new, insuperable difficulties for the Oslo approach.
But despite this, these premises remained at the foundation of Western ‘peace’ proposals, from the Road Map, through Olmert’s too-generous proposals, to the Obama-Kerry plan. Only details and methods of implementation changed.
If we didn’t know in 1993 that the argument was not about ‘Palestine’ but rather about Israel, we know it today, from Abbas’ refusal to admit that Israel is the nation of the Jewish people (he claims there is no such people, only a religion), and from the content of their media, educational system, art, literature, etc., all of which send the message that there is no ‘Israel’ between the river and the sea, only ‘occupied Palestine’.
If we didn’t know that the PLO wasn’t interested in living peacefully alongside a Jewish state, we know it today from the official adulation and financial support for terrorist murderers whose release from prison was extorted by US pressure.
After 21 years of the ‘Palestinian Authority’ (PA) receiving billions in support from the gullible West, Palestinians have no democracy, no independent judiciary, no investment in the public sphere, no private economy — only ‘security’ forces and Swiss bank accounts. Can you imagine what a sovereign ‘Palestine’ would be like?
Israel has totally withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and placed more than 90% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria under control of the PA. It tried a settlement freeze, removed checkpoints, released prisoners — murderers — and made various other concessions in the name of peace. But there have been no matching concessions from the Arabs. Incitement against Jews and Israelis in Palestinian official media has, if anything, increased. Our overtures of compromise have been taken as signs of weakness.
Negotiations of one sort or another have been going on since Oslo, punctuated by wars and generally accompanied by terrorism. The objectives of the two sides, however, have always been different, as I wrote yesterday: Israel wants peace and security, while the Arabs want to weaken Israel enough so that it can be overwhelmed, and replaced by an Arab state. There’s no common ground here.
We’ve heard over and over that “the basic outlines of a settlement are clear, it’s only a question of details.” This is the opposite of the truth. An agreement based on false principles cannot be achieved, no matter how cleverly the details are worked out.
The approach has been tried, and it has failed. Maybe 21 years ago, Kerry could have been excused for believing that it could work. Not today. Unfortunately, forcing it on the unwilling parties will have an asymmetric result: the Arabs will be forced to say things that they don’t believe, while Israel will be exposed to unprecedented levels of terrorism.
Bill Clinton finally understood this in 2001. But either nobody told Obama and Kerry, or their goal is closer to that of the Arabs than to the Israelis.
Israel can rip the veil off the Oslo fantasy by giving Kerry a firm ‘no’, and ending relations with the PA. The US and the Europeans will then punish Israel by reducing aid, boycotting its products, etc. Such actions would clearly damage the economy. But as Caroline Glick argues today, a few rockets hitting Israel’s high-tech centers and international airport would wreck the economy much more effectively than anything the US and Europe could do.