Peres at Rabin funeral_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
While the country’s right wing factions contend that the Oslo Accords spelled
catastrophe for Israel, President Shimon Peres expressed his continued belief
Tuesday night that they were, in fact, a blessing.
After kindling a
memorial candle for slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 16th anniversary
of his assassination, Peres declared that the majority of those who had been
opposed to the Oslo Accords were now in favor of a two-state solution to the
Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
Recalling the fateful night on which Rabin
was the target of three bullets at the conclusion of a peace rally, the
president said the rally had been full of hope.
directly to the slain leader, Peres reviewed his distinguished military career
and his political leadership, which came to an end in a way no one had
anticipated. He spoke of Rabin’s transformation from the chief of General Staff
who directed military operations during the Six Day War, to the man of peace who
was prepared to make territorial compromises rather than compromise on morality
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Under Rabin’s leadership, said Peres, Israel knew how to be a
strong shield, yet unwavering in its hope for peace.
In seeking an
accommodation with the Palestinians, he went on, “we knew that Arafat was not
Sadat, but after the agreement with Jordan was torpedoed, the only partner we
had left was the Palestinian partner.”
Still speaking to Rabin, the
president said: “Yitzhak, I knew that this was probably the most difficult
decision of your life, because even with the PLO, there were no guarantees. But
you chose, albeit with a heavy heart, to do something of historic
The Oslo Accords, declared Peres, formed the basis for the
two-states-for-two-peoples solution. It was the first time in the history of the
Jewish people, he said, that a Palestinian leader had withdrawn from the concept
of the 1947 lines and had moved his tactic to the 1967 lines. Because the PLO
had been in need of external support, it publicly recognized the State of
Israel, pledged that it would desist from terror and entered into peace
Not everything that had been desired had been achieved,
Peres acknowledged, “but what was achieved created the framework for a new
relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The Oslo Accords, he
insisted, opened up new markets for Israel, promoted international investments
here and brought an end to the Arab boycott of the Jewish state. They also
facilitated the peace agreement with Jordan and enabled Israeli representation
in a number of Arab states, namely Qatar, Morocco, Oman and
There had been considerable resistance to the accords among
the Israeli public, Peres recalled, saying that he would never forget with what
courage Rabin had walked “through fields of hatred and incitement.”
was no secret that there were sharp differences between himself and Rabin, and
these caused them both considerable frustration, Peres said, but when it came to
basics, they had a shared vision and conviction that Rabin’s path was one of
peace and security.
“It was the correct path,” he said.
granddaughter Noa Rotman, who won the hearts of the nation and the world when
she eulogized her grandfather at his funeral in November 1995, said that the
shock waves following his death had subsided, but nonetheless there had been
many gray events.
She was awash with so many different feelings, she
said, noting that at a distance of 16 years, she was more mature – a mother, and
generally a proud citizen of her country – yet on this date, all the wounds
opened anew, and she did not know how to protect herself from the pain of loss,
the affront of murder and the finality of death.
Rotman thanked Peres for
maintaining the tradition of lighting a candle for her grandfather and the
statesmanlike manner in which the president honored his memory.