Twenty years ago this week, Israel committed one of the greatest strategic
blunders in its modern history, one that is still casting a long and painful
shadow over the entire Middle East.
Ignoring military intelligence, moral
principles and basic common sense, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the
Oslo Accords with PLO terrorist-in-chief Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn
on September 13, 1993, setting the stage for unprecedented bloodshed and
Nonetheless, despite the passage of two
decades, the architects of Oslo stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the error of
their ways and continue to ignore the damage they have wrought. It is time for
them to do so.
Under Oslo, Israel allowed Arafat and his cohorts into
Gaza and gave them weapons as well as territory to control. In return, we
received the worst wave of violence and terror in the nation’s
Instead of harmony, Oslo brought horror, resulting in an
immediate, predictable and painfully prolonged wave of stabbings, shootings and
Here is a simple fact which speaks volumes: in the five
years after Oslo, more Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists than in
the 15 years prior to the signing of the agreement. A total of 279 men, women
and children were murdered in the half-decade following the accords, while 254
were killed in the previous 15 years.
And in the two decades since Rabin
and Arafat exchanged handshakes with Bill Clinton looking on, over 1,400
Israelis have lost their lives to Palestinian terror.
By all measures,
Oslo was a disaster. It divided the people and land of Israel, failed to bring
peace, established a hostile Palestinian entity, weakened the Jewish state’s
deterrence posture and empowered Hamas.
One might have expected that the
main culprits behind this catastrophe would at least have had the intellectual
honesty to come clean and take responsibility for the fiasco. But like a fretful
husband who has gambled away his paycheck at the blackjack table, they prefer
instead to deny reality and blame the deck of cards rather than own up to their
Take, for example, Ambassador Uri Savir, who took part in the
talks with the PLO. Writing in The New York Times last month, Savir had the
audacity to rewrite history in a pitiful attempt to salvage his
“Oslo,” he declared, “failed to meet the Israeli and
Palestinian expectation of resolving their bitter conflict, primarily due to the
election in 1996 of an anti-Oslo government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu,
and also Yasser Arafat’s failure to combat Palestinian terror and
Amazingly, in the course of just one sentence, Savir manages
to squeeze in not one, but two major distortions of history.
places the blame “primarily” on the outcome of Israel’s democratic process,
rather than on the Palestinian leadership’s nasty habit of violating every one
of its major obligations, including the need to crack down on violence, disarm
and disband Hamas, and halt anti-Israel incitement.
Second, Savir also
fails to note that his mentor Shimon Peres was actually leading in the polls in
the run-up to the May 1996 election after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. It
was only after the wave of Palestinian suicide attacks in February and March of
1996, when buses were blowing up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that public support
In other words, even if one wanted to make the dubious assertion
that it was Netanyahu’s election which derailed Oslo – it wasn’t – the fact
remains that it was Palestinian terror and noncompliance which soured any hope
of eventual progress.
Not content with mere obfuscation, Savir goes on to
engage in chicanery: “The main lesson to be learned from Oslo,” he insists, “is
that for the peace process to be successful, it must be inclusive, not elitist.
It must be a peace by the people, for the people.”
Umm, no. The main
lesson to be learned from Oslo is that Israel cannot and must not entrust its
security to others, and that appeasement and territorial concessions are a
recipe for ruin. All the rest is commentary.
Savir, of course, is not
alone in his efforts to conceal the dark truths of Oslo and its
Others, such as President Shimon Peres and former deputy
foreign minister Yossi Beilin, continue to cling to their pseudo-messianic
pretensions about the wisdom of the experiment.
This was most clearly on
display earlier this year in an Independence Day interview that Peres granted to
The Jerusalem Post.
As the Post reported on April 15, Peres said that he
did not regret Oslo nor did he think that it had been a mistake. Instead, he
defended the agreement, saying that due to the accords, there is now a
Palestinian peace camp, whatever that means.
Needless to say, Peres did
not offer a word of contrition or remorse, nor did he ask forgiveness from the
victims of Oslo.
As it turns out, this coming Friday not only marks the
20th anniversary of Oslo, but it is also the eve of Yom Kippur, when Jews around
the world engage in soul-searching, grapple with our sins and seek to make
The intersection of these two occasions presents the perfect
opportunity for Peres, Savir, Beilin and all those who backed Oslo to give the
people of Israel the belated apology that we deserve. Doing so would not only be
the just and moral thing to do, it would also begin to heal some of the schisms
Oslo caused in Israeli society.
The architects of Oslo might not be able
to undo the mistakes of the past, but they sure can seize this moment to finally
begin to atone for their transgressions. And acknowledging the failure of Oslo
and apologizing for their roles seems like a good place to start.