Oslo: No choice?

It is simply not true that the repercussions of a breakdown in a bad peace process would be unimaginably worse than its continuation. Lessons for today’s peace negotiators from the past.

Since the Oslo accords were struck five years ago this month, conventional wisdom has been that Israel must navigate within the confines of the deal. “Israel has no better diplomatic alternative” is the mainstream, establishment mantra, to which Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government swore allegiance, as well.

Despite the fact that our Palestinian partner hasn’t quite turned out to be the neighbor we’d hoped for, there is, simply put, no choice but to stick with Oslo. Why? Because the repercussions of total breakdown in the peace process which would result from any formal renunciation of the accord would be worse, unimaginably bad. “The pressure cooker would explode”, we’re told.

In sum, we “have” to go forward with the second redeployment (and the third and perhaps more), otherwise there’ll be no peace, no security, no international support for Israel.

But does anyone really believe that we’ll have more peace and more security and truly more solid international support after we go forward with the next redeployment?

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the territories is the IDF going to have an easier time providing security for Israelis? Then-IDF C-o-S Amnon Shahak told the Knesset on June 9 that after the redeployment “from a security standpoint, we will live in a much, much more difficult reality than the one currently prevailing…” Indeed, our ability to foil terrorist attacks diminishes as we withdraw from more territory, making us increasingly dependent on PA intelligence. But, we have no choice…..

After we hand over 13 percent more of the territories to Yasser Arafat is he going cease “fostering Hamas terrorist infrastructures as a military reserve for the future” (– IDF Intelligence Chief Brig. Gen. Yaalon, July 1) or downsize the PA police force in line with the Oslo terms? Is Arafat  going to distance himself publicly from the Yihye Ayyash suicide bombers of this world or continue to embrace and glorify their memories? Are PA leaders going to stop threatening violence every time the peace talks hit a snag? I doubt it. But again, we have no choice…

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the West Bank heartland are the Israelis who live there going to sleep more securely in the knowledge that the process is “building trust” between the sides and that joint security patrols will better protect them? Or can Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria expect to picked-off one-by-one by PA terrorists and policemen ( — “move to Tel Aviv if you want security” says Jibril Rajoub) and find themselves trapped inside their towns as PA forces cut-off access roads? But remember, we have no choice…

After we “recommit ourselves to the process” by withdrawing from 13 percent more of the territories will the PA cease its ongoing diplomatic aggression against Israel in international fora? Is the Palestinian representative at the UN going to stop attempting to have settlements investigated as war crimes under international convention? Is Arafat to end his lobbying of European leaders for a suspension of trade ties with Israel? Again, I doubt it.

Nor do I believe that, after the withdrawal, the current government will become a beloved son in international politics. Netanyahu will be as isolated as ever, and pressured to make, well, the next pullback. But we need American support. So, we have no choice….

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the territories is the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement of the Palestinian press going to abate? Will *Al Hayat al-Jadida*, Arafat’s semi-official organ, issue a retraction, informing Palestinians that the “DNA” on Monica’s dress didn’t come, after all, from AIPAC’s warehouses, and that the Lewinsky affair apparently isn’t a plot launched by the “satanic, Zionist state”? How about a feature debunking the Holocaust revisionists that have been so popular until now in the Palestinian press? Unlikely, you say? But, we have no choice…

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the territories will Palestinian encroachment in eastern Jerusalem – an absolute violation of the Oslo accords – be turned back? Will the Palestinian ministries of police, education, interior and religion desist from their continuing step-by-step takeover of the city?

More likely that, as talks over final status near, the struggle for control will only increase, along with purposefully-directed Palestinian violence meant to show who is the boss in eastern Jerusalem. But, we have no choice…

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the territories will Arafat chuck the bigots and radical imams he has been smooching with, like Louis Farrakhan, Sheikh Yassin and the Ayatollah Khameini? Or will the PA act to clean-up its awful human rights record? Improbable? But hey, we have no choice….

After we withdraw from 13 percent more of the territories will fewer Israeli cars be stolen and spirited-away to disassembly yards in PA-controlled territory; or be stolen for the PA police motor-pool? Are you skeptical?

But, we have no choice. Right?

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post on August 30, 1998

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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