BBC’s Robin Lustig did a retrospective feature on the Oslo peace accords which aired on World Service News Hour on October 24, 2003 and appeared in article form on the BBC website.
Although Lustig tried to appear evenhanded by interviewing both Israelis and Palestinians, it was clear he was not straying from BBC’s “blame Israel” line. Thus, Lustig lumped together proponents of the view that the Oslo approach was misconceived as “right-wing Israelis and Islamist Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” He suggested that Israeli settlement building – something he acknowledges was not prohibited under Oslo – was, nevertheless, the underlying cause for Oslo’s failure. To bolster this suggestion, Lustig asked leading questions and interjected his own comments into the interview. He asked Yossi Beilin:
The question of settlements was not directly referred to in the Oslo declaration of principles. In hindsight, do you acknowledge that that was a mistake?
And in response to Erekat’s statement that “Oslo cannot die, Oslo did not fail,” Lustig interpolated “And yet the settlements carried on being built anyway.”
Most disturbing, however, was Lustig’s distortion of historical fact in order to portray Israelis as being responsible for the breakdown of the Oslo accords. In the radio broadcast Lustig said:
Within months of the signing of the Oslo agreement, the cycle of violence had restarted. In February of the following year, an Israeli settler had shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers in a mosque in the ancient West Bank city of Hebron. A little over a month later came the first post-Oslo Palestinian suicide bomb. And in November 1995, a Jewish fanatic assassinated the Israeli prime minister Yitzchak Rabin.
And in the section titled “Collapse of Oslo” in his website article, Lustig similarly wrote:
Within months of the signing ceremony, a Jewish settler shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers in a mosque in the ancient West Bank city of Hebron. A little over a month later came the first Palestinian suicide bomb. And in November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fanatic.
These statements mislead listeners and readers to assume that until an Israeli (Baruch Goldstein) murdered Muslim worshippers on February 25, 1994, the Oslo process was sailing along and all was peaceful, and that Palestinian suicide bombings came only as a response to the Israeli action.
This is patently false. Violence was rampant in the months between the signing of the Oslo Declaration and the Goldstein shootings. Stabbings, shootings, hand grenade and firebomb attacks on Israelis by Palestinian terrorists were daily occurrences. In fact, 27 Israelis lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the period between the signing of the Oslo Declaration and the Goldstein murders. (See Appendix 1 below.) Scores more were wounded by Palestinians. (Some examples in Appendix 2 below.)
Nor was the Palestinian suicide bombing a little over a month after the Goldstein killings the “first.” There were over a dozen attempted suicide bombings in 1993, starting on April 16, 1993, when Sahar Tamam Nabulsi drove a stolen van packed with explosive devices into a roadside cafeteria near Mehola. The blast killed the driver and an Arab worker and injured nine other people. Hamas claimed responsibility. Even on the eve of the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles, an abortive car bomb attack on a prisons service bus in Gaza resulted in the death of the suicide bomber and wounding of two Israelis. And at least six attempted or successful suicide attacks took place in the period between the signing of the Oslo accords and the Goldstein killings, which resulted in numerous injuries but no fatalities other than those of the suicide bombers themselves. (See Appendix 3 below.)
It is difficult to believe that a veteran journalist like Lustig who was actually reporting on the Oslo process 10 years ago could have so conveniently forgotten the numerous Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis after the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed. Facts and memory, however, apparently do not get in the way of BBC’s consistent efforts to blame Israel.
Appendix 1: Israelis killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks after signing of Declaration of Principles (September 1993) until Goldstein shootings (February 25, 1994) [Israeli foreign ministry]
9/24 /93 Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death in an orchard near the trailer home where he lived near the village of Basra. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
10/9/93 Dror Forer and Aran Bachar were murdered by terrorists in Wadi Kelt in the Judean Desert. The Popular Front and Islamic Jihad each publicly claimed responsibility.
10/24/93 Two IDF soldiers, Staff Sgt. (res.) Ehud Rot, age 35, and Sgt. Ilan Levi, age 23, were killed after entering a Subaru with Israeli license plates outside a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The passengers were apparently terrorists disguised as Israelis. Following a brief struggle, the soldiers were shot at close range and killed. Hamas publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.
10/29/93 Chaim Mizrahi, resident of Beit-El, was kidnapped by three terrorists from a poultry farm near Ramallah. He was murdered and his body burned. Three Fatah members were convicted of the murder on July 27, 1994.
11/7/93 Efraim Ayubi of Kfar Darom, Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s personal driver, was shot to death by terrorists near Hebron. Hamas publicly claimed responsibility for the murder.
11/9/93 Salman ‘Id el-Hawashla, age 38, an Israeli Bedouin of the Abu Rekaik tribe who was driving a car with Israeli plates, was killed by three armed men driving a truck hijacked from the Gaza municipality, in a deliberate head-on collision.
11/17/93 Sgt. 1st Cl. Chaim Darina, age 37, was stabbed by a Gazan terrorist while seated at the cafeteria at the Nahal Oz road block at the entrance to the Gaza Strip. The perpetrator was apprehended. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the murder.
12/1/93 Shalva Ozana, age 23, and Yitzhak Weinstock, an American citizen, age 19, were shot to death by terrorists from a moving vehicle, while parked on the side of the road to Ramallah because of engine trouble. Weinstock died of his wounds the following morning. Hamas claimed responbility for the attack, stating that it was carried out in retaliation for the killing by Israeli forces of Imad Akel, a wanted Hamas leader in Gaza.
12/5/93 David Mashrati, a reserve soldier, was shot and killed by a terrorist attempting to board a bus on route 641 at the Holon junction. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
12/6/93 Mordechai Lapid and his son Shalom Lapid, age 19, were shot to death by terrorists near Hebron. Hamas publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.
12/22/93 Eliahu Levin and Meir Mendelovitch were killed by shots fired at th eir car from a passing vehicle in the Ramallah area. Hamas claimed responsibility.
12/23/93 Anatoly Kolisnikov, an Ashdod resident employed as a relief watchman at a construction site there, was stabbed to death while on duty.
12/31/93 Chaim Weizman and David Bizi were found murdered in a Ramle apartment. ID cards of two Gaza residents were found in the apartment, together with a leaflet of the Popular Front ‘Red Eagle’ group, claiming responsibility for the murder.
12/24/93 Lieut.Col. Meir Mintz, commander of the IDF special forces in the Gaza area, was shot and killed by terrorists in an ambush on his jeep at the T-junction in Gaza. Hamas publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.
1/12/94 Moshe Becker of Rishon Le-Zion was stabbed to death by three Palestinian employees while working in his orchard. The Popular Front claimed responsibility for the murder.
1/14/94 Grigory Ivanov was stabbed to death by a terrorist in the industrial zone at the Erez junction, near the Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
2/9/94 Ilan Sudri, a taxi driver, was kidnapped and murdered while returning home from work. Islamic Jihad sent a message to the news agencies claiming responsibility for the murder.
2/10/94 Naftali Sahar, a citrus grower, was murdered by blows to his head. His body was found in his orchard near Kibbutz Na’an.
2/13/94 Noam Cohen, age 28, member of the General Security Service, was shot and killed in an ambush on his car. Two of his colleagues who were also in the vehicle suffered moderate injuries. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
2/17/94 Yuval Golan, stabbed on December 29, 1993 by a terrorist near Adarim in the Hebron area, died of his wounds.
2/19/94 Zipora Sasson, resident of Ariel and five months pregnant, was killed on the trans-Samaria highway in an ambush by shots fired at her car. The terrorists were members of Hamas.
Appendix 2: A few examples of the many Palestinian attacks in which Israelis were wounded after signing of Declaration of Principles (September 1993) until Goldstein shootings (February 25, 1994)
10/16/93 Baruch Ben Ya’acov, a yeshiva student, was stabbed in the neck and back by a Palestinian terrorist as he walked past the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
11/13/93 Katriel Lerner, a 19-year-old soldier, was seriously wounded after being stabbed in the upper back while walking down David Street in the Moslem Quarter.
11/13/93 Nissim Bar-On was stabbed multiple times in the back and in the hand by a Palestinian carrying an Islamic Jihad pamphlet. Bar-On had stopped at a checkpoint to pick up some Arab workers.
11/16/93 Morris Miller of Netivot suffered stab wounds in the chest and both hands and Police Chief Supt.Ben-Sheetrit was wounded in the neck and hand by Hamas member Sami Musalah who had recently been released from prison.
12/8/93 Yair Cohen suffered serious bullet wounds to his stomach, large intestine and liver when targeted with his pregnant wife Claudine by masked gunmen at an appliance store in Bethlehem. The Wadia Haddad faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.
12/12/93 Egged bus driver Shlomo Ohana of Beersheba was seriously wounded when terrorists in a parked Peugeot shot at the bus he was driving south of Hebron.
12/30/93 Two IDF soldiers were wounded in Gaza City when Hamas gunmen ambushed their vehicle.
1/6/94 Ilan Gabai, an 18-year-old soldier, was stabbed in the armpit, shoulder, and neck as waited for a ride at the French Hill hitchhiking station on Nablus Road, near the turnoff to Ma’aleh Adumim. The perpetrator,a member of Islamic Jihad, stole the victim’s gun and tried to escape but was shot dead by border police.
Appendix 3: Palestinian Suicide Bombings after signing of Declaration of Principles (September 13, 1993) until Goldstein shootings (February 25, 1994)
9/14/93 A Palestinian suicide bomber wearing a belt packed with explosives was killed when his charge exploded just as he started to enter a Gaza district police station.
9/26/93 Hamas member Ashraf Mahadi died when his explosive-ridden car blew up while he was driving in the Gaza strip. The car had been packed with two pipe bombs and canisters of bottled gas. Earlier, Mahadi had bid his father farewell saying he had “some difficult work to do” and asking him not to be angry if he is killed or died. Mahadi had told his father that he was “one of God’s soldiers.”
10/4/93 Kamal Bani Odeh blew up his car next to a bus carrying soldiers from Jerusalem to Shilo, wounding 30. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber’s car carried at least 20 grenades and a makeshift bomb, made of gasoline cans with nails.
11/2/93 A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a botched car-bomb attack near Sinjil. The car was carrying explosives and three gas cannisters and apparently exploded prematurely because the terrorist had made an error in constructing the bomb. Hamas nevertheless claimed responsibility for the abortive attack.
12/13/93 Anwar Aziz of Islamic Jihad stole an ambulance, rigged it with explosives and rammed it into an Israeli army jeep on patrol in Gaza. The bomber was killed and several soldiers were wounded. The number of wounded was relatively small because Israeli troops were on alert for the stolen vehicle.
12/14/93 Hamas member Osama Hamid rigged a stolen car with explosives, but was killed by Israeli border policeman before setting off the car-bomb. Israeli sappers used a robot to detonate the car.