Yossi Beilin will never be able to forgive opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for placing obstacles in the path of the Oslo agreements that he had worked so hard to advance, the former justice minister said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Zoomcast last week.
“The person who should be blamed for it or blessed by those who thought Oslo was a disaster, is Netanyahu,” Beilin said in the interview.
He acknowledged that the former prime minister withdrew from land in Hebron through the Wye River Accords and later endorsed the two-state solution, but he said that the Likud leader should not have insisted that the Palestinians agree to unrealistic preconditions.
Beilin said it was ironic that Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state, while his predecessors, Yitzhak Rabin never did and Shimon Peres did only three years after he left the premiership. But he expressed confidence that Rabin’s views would have changed over time had he not been assassinated.
In his new book, Secrets I will not take to the grave, Beilin recounted that when he served as deputy foreign minister, the animosity between Rabin and Peres made it harder to get the peace process off the ground.
When Rabin established his government in 1992, he made an agreement with Peres, who served as foreign minister at the time, that Peres would not be involved in bilateral talks. So, when Beilin started speaking to the Palestinians in Norway, he initially had to keep the talks a secret from the prime minister.
“Rabin hugged Peres the night of the peace rally where he was assassinated, but it was not characteristic of their relations,” Beilin said. “The fact that I could not tell them about the beginning of the Oslo process stemmed from the relationship between them.”
When asked if he had any regrets about the Oslo process, he said that in retrospect, he should have pushed Rabin to seek a permanent agreement and not the interim arrangement that was eventually implemented.
Beilin, who served under both Rabin and Peres, said he did not know why they hated each other so much. Asked to compare them to current warring couples in politics, he responded by comparing the current Knesset to a kindergarten.
“The way people talked to each other in the Knesset in my day was more restrained,” he said.
Beilin, who headed Meretz after serving as a Labor Party minister, said he supported both parties joining the current government, even though it is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's, whom he called “an extreme Rightist.”
“Bennett’s idea to not talk to the other side is childish,” Beilin said in reference to the Palestinians. “It is very weird for me. But it is important that the Left and Center-Left be in the coalition so that their voice can be heard.”