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Middle East Issues





Politico and The Washington Post Get Oslo Wrong


When Israeli statesman Shimon Peres passed away, aged 93 on Sept. 27, 2016, it occasioned tributes and expressions of grief from many world leaders. Unfortunately, it also occasioned some bad history. In particular, there was an inaccurate recounting of the Oslo process that Peres participated in by Politico and The Washington Post.

As the U.S. State Department's office of the historian notes, the Oslo accords occurred when:

“On September 13, 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiator Mahmoud Abbas signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, commonly referred to as the ‘Oslo Accord,' at the White House. Israel accepted the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians, and the PLO renounced terrorism and recognized Israel's right to exist in peace. Both sides agreed that a Palestinian Authority (PA) would be established and assume governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a five-year period. Then, permanent status talks on the issues of borders, refugees, and Jerusalem would be held.”

Peres, as Rabin's foreign minister, participated in the drafting and signing of the accords. For these efforts at peace, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Rabin and PLO head Yasser Arafat.

What happened next?

The Washington Post, in an article which attempted to detail Peres's legacy, claimed, “Many Israelis have turned away from Peres's signal achievement, the crafting of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the beginning of what has become a faltering peace process with the Palestinians (“Security hawk became ultimate dove,” Sept. 9, 2016).” The Post doesn't say why—nor does it cite any evidence—to prove that “many Israelis have turned away” from the 1993 Oslo accords. Rather, the dispatch by Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and reporter Ruth Eglash, implied that it was Rabin's assassination “by a Jewish extremist in 1995 as he worked to build a lasting peace with the Palestinians,” which ended the Oslo peace process.

In two separate articles (“Bill Clinton's unfinished business in Israel,” September 29 and “Tensions crackle at Peres funeral over elusive Mideast peace deal,” September 30), Politico echoed this view.

Yet, the idea that the Oslo process failed due to Rabin's assassination—and that the “peace process” has merely “faltered” since—is misleading. A simple timeline bears this out.
 
Straight from Arafat's mouth

As historian Efraim Karsh pointed out in his 2003 biography of the Palestinian leader, as early as May 10, 1994, Arafat told South African Muslim leaders that the Oslo accords “fell into the same category as the Treaty of Hudaibiya that was signed by the Prophet Muhammed with the people of Mecca in 628, only to be reneged on a couple of years later when the situation titled in Muhammad's favor.” Arafat's words were recorded by a member of the Jewish community who had infiltrated the meeting posing as a Muslim—provoking demands from Israeli officials that he repudiate the statement. Arafat never did. Instead, he reiterated the Hudaibiya comparison on several occasions, including in his August 21, 1995, remarks at al-Azhar University in Gaza.

That is, Arafat had already forsworn the Oslo process in public appearances shortly after the White House signing—and before Rabin's assassination.

Perhaps for this reason—and for the continuing Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, “Rabin may have been close to calling-off the Oslo process, according [to] his daughter Dalia,” as The Jerusalem Post has noted. The Jerusalem Post highlighted that in an Oct. 1, 2010 interview with Yediot Aharonot, Dalia Rabin said that “many people who were close to father told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets, and because he felt that Yasser Arafat was not delivering on his promises (“Yitzhak Rabin was ‘close to stopping the Oslo process,'” Oct. 17, 2013).”

According to Moshe Ya'alon, a future Israeli Defense Minister who was then serving as the head of military intelligence, Rabin told Ya'alon that after the next election, “he was going to ‘set things straight' with the Oslo process, because Arafat could no longer be trusted (The Long Short Way, Yediot Aharanot Press, 2008).”

Writing in Commentary magazine, journalist Seth Mandel noted another important fact omitted by The Washington Post and Politico: “The Oslo accords weren't Rabin's idea, but the handiwork of Shimon Peres, his intraparty rival (“Rabin's Ultimate Revenge,” Dec. 14, 2015).”
 
Omitted: Israeli offers and Palestinian rejectionism

Indeed, even after Rabin's murder, Israel and the U.S. attempted to continue the process. Despite this, as CAMERA has frequently noted (see, for exampleWashington Post Treats State Department, Palestinian Allegations as Facts,” Aug. 4, 2016), the Palestinian Authority (PA) has repeatedly refused a “two-state solution” in exchange for peace in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference. Israeli and U.S. proposals to restart negotiations in 2014 and March 2016 were similarly rejected. All of these offers were made under Israeli and U.S. governments of various political stripes. All were refused outright by Palestinian leadership which failed to even submit a counteroffer. Yet, none of this is noted by Politico and The Washington Post.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority—which was created by Oslo and has since received international aid money as a result of that process—has continued to violate the agreements terms, which, among other things, calls for an end to incitement and the promotion of terror. As CAMERA has pointed out, the PA has continued to glorify and pay terrorists who murder Israelis.

A 2015 survey commissioned by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Washington D.C.-based think tank, showed that “58 percent of West Bankers and 65 percent of Gazans polled said even if a ‘two-state solution' is negotiated, ‘the struggle is not over and resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine [Israel] is liberated.'” In other words, Palestinian Arabs in both areas want to see Israel destroyed. Fifty-six percent of the respondents in the West Bank and 84 percent in Gaza support the use of violent attacks to achieve this end. Despite this pronounced support for violence, 74 percent of West Bankers and 83 percent of Gazans say ‘Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel' (“Real Polls of Palestinian Housewives, et. al., Pass Washington Post Columnist,” CAMERA, Nov. 9, 2015).”

Contrary to The Post's claim that “Israelis have turned away” from a “two-state solution,” many polls (some of which can be found here) show that citizens of the Jewish state believe in a “two-state solution”—they just don't think the Palestinians share this objective. And, it seems, not without reason. Yet, the history behind that skepticism is nowhere to be found in Politico and The Washington Post's faulty retelling.


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