|Israel Resource Review
||5th September, 2002
Years of Hope
Benyamin Z'ev Begin
Years of hope, Z.B. Begin, Ha'Aretz, September 6, 2002
September 9, 1993
Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era in the history
of the Middle East. In firm conviction thereof, I would like to confirm the
following Palestine Liberation Organization commitments: The PLO recognizes
the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO
accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO
commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful
resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all
outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through
negotiations . . . The PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of
violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel
in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline
violators . . .
The PLO affirms that those articles which deny Israel's right to exist, and
the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments
of this letter, are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the
PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal
approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
Chairman, the Palestine Liberation Organization
These were surprising developments. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin responded
to them on the same day: " . . . The government of Israel has decided to
recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and to
commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process."
Four days later, the Declaration of Principles was signed in Washington. A
month later, the Israeli government committed itself to the PLO, to
encourage the activity of the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem. In
February 1994, the first Cairo agreement was signed; in April, the economic
agreement was signed in Paris; in May, the first PLO officials arrived in
Gaza and Jericho and two months later, Yasser Arafat arrived in Gaza. In
August of 1994, the protocols transferring authority to the PLO were signed
at the Erez checkpoint and Cairo, and in November, the donor countries
decided on a generous grant to the PLO. In December, the Nobel Peace Prize
was awarded to the head of the PLO, the prime minister of Israel and its
In February 1995, the second Cairo agreement was signed between the PLO and
Israel, and in September, the Interim Agreement was signed in Washington. In
November and December of 1995, the PLO assumed control over six cities in
Samaria and Judea. In January 1996, 812 terrorists were released from
Israeli prisons and 10 days later, elections were held for the Palestinian
Authority Council and its president. The reconciliation process reached its
climax in April 1996, when the prime minister of Israel, Shimon Peres,
announced that the Palestinian Covenant was annulled.
Those were years of hope.
Nine years after the exchange of instruments between Yasser Arafat and
Yitzhak Rabin, the government of Israel (with the participation of the Labor
Party) accepted the assessment by the Israel Defense Forces General Staff
and the Shin Bet security service that as of now, the continued presence of
IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, supporting Shin Bet activities there, is a
necessary - though not always sufficient - condition for preventing terror
activity. In the opinion of many, the developments of the last two years are
an expression of a dangerous distortion of the message of peace in the Oslo
agreements, and the source of the problem is that the "political horizon" of
the Arab residents of Samaria, Judea and the District of Gaza has been
The perception of the Oslo agreement as a means leading to peace was based
in its day on two assumptions. First, that the PLO had given up its
traditional goal of the elimination of the State of Israel, including
through the realization of the right of return of 1948 refugees to their
homes, and second, that the PLO gave up violence as an instrument to achieve
this goal. Therefore, the logical conclusion was that a peace agreement with
the PLO was within reach, since the main obstacle was removed from the path
to peace, and the remaining disputes, which were detailed in the Declaration
of Principles, would be settled around the negotiating table. That hope was
not realized and, in the last two years, two main reasons have been proposed
by way of explanation: Likud government policies between 1996-1999 and the
policies of the Labor government in 1999-2000.
But a discussion of the question of whether Israel missed the opportunity
for peace should also include a focused look at the early, formative period
of the Oslo agreement - in the years 1993-1996. In those years, a "dovish"
government headed by the Labor Party, with the participation of the liberal
Meretz party, was in power and the widest possible political horizon was
laid out before the PLO. An analysis of the same period enables what
approximates an examination under "laboratory conditions" of the PLO's
approach with regard to the two main aspects of the Oslo agreements: the
PLO's goal and the means to achieve it.
Strategy and tactics
The PLO's goal was embedded in two plans, strategic and tactical. The
strategic plan was included in the Palestinian Covenant, which was approved
by the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in Jerusalem, in 1964. The plan is
founded on the negation of Jewish nationhood, and therefore the negation of
the right of the Jews, who only belong to a religion, to establish a state
of their own in the Land of Israel. Since such a state was established on
Palestinian land, it must be removed through "armed struggle." The PNC
approved the tactical plan in 1974, known as the "stages plan" for the
liberation of Palestine. With this pragmatic plan, the PLO determined its
readiness to achieve control over all of Palestine gradually and not only
through "armed struggle." The PNC's decision said that: "In light of this
program, the leadership of the revolution will determine the tactics, which
will serve and make possible the realization of the objectives."
About a year before the signing of the Oslo accords, the late Faisal
Husseini discussed the distinction between the strategy and the tactic, in a
speech to an Arab youth organization in Amman (Al-Ra'y, Jordan, November 12,
1992). "In the life of all nations there are two political strategies: the
overall strategy and the current political strategy. We have to know that
the slogan for the current stage is not `from the sea to the river' . . . we
have not conceded and will not surrender any of the existing commitments
that have existed for more than 70 years . . . We have within our Palestinian
and united Arab society the ability to deal with divided Israeli society . . .
We must force Israeli society to cooperate . . . with our Arab society, and
eventually to gradually dissolve the `Zionist entity'." [Quotes from the
Arab media in this article are courtesy of MEMRI, unless otherwise noted -
Two years after the signing of the Oslo agreement, Husseini repeated these
views on July 22, 1995, at the University of Jordan. "The political solution
we are now proposing is within the context of our political strategy and not
our overall strategy. Our policy with regard to the second strategy is
known. If you ask any Palestinian, he will tell you that the boundaries of
Palestine go from the river to the sea. There are no arguments over that. We
might be mistaken about our political strategy, but we are never wrong about
our permanent overall strategy."
Husseini proved that this, indeed, is his permanent view when he reiterated
the distinction six years later. He told the Cairo Al-Arabi on June 24,
2001: "We distinguish the strategic, long-term goals from the political
phased goals, which we are compelled to temporarily accept due to
international pressure . . . The Palestinian borders according to the higher
strategy [are] `from the river to the sea.' Palestine in its entirety is an
Arab land, the land of the Arab nation, a land no one can sell or buy, and
it is impossible to remain silent while someone is robbing it, even if this
requires time and even [if it means paying] a high price."
In that interview, Husseini revealed the PLO's tactic with regard to the
Oslo agreement. "The people of Troy . . . cheered and celebrated thinking that
the Greek troops were routed, and while retreating, they left a harmless
wooden horse as spoils of war. So they opened the gates of the city and
brought in the wooden horse. We all know what happened next."
Hatem Abdel Kader, a member of the Palestinian Legislature, repeated the
idea in the eulogy he delivered for Husseini (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, July 17,
2001), saying Husseini "used the metaphor of the Trojan horse to issue his
first call, `Climb into the belly of the horse' - it may have a bit of
rotting wood and maybe you don't like the type of wood, and maybe you'll
find strange things inside, but get inside. When, over time, the horse
arrives at its destination, you will hear a different call: `Get out of the
belly of the horse!"
Arafat described the tactic in a speech at a Johannesburg mosque, in May
1994 in which he compared the Oslo agreement to the peace agreement signed
between Mohammed and the Koraish tribe, at the Hudeibah springs. Mohammed
signed the agreement in a moment of weakness, all the while intending to
violate it and eliminate the Koraish, after he gained strength - which is
what he did. "This [Oslo] agreement," said Arafat in Johannesburg, "I am not
considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our
prophet Mohammed and Koraish, and you remember the Caliph Omar refused this
agreement and [considered] it a despicable truce." [Source: IRIS-Information
Regarding Israel's Security - Ha'aretz].
Nabil Sha'ath did not need any metaphors when he said in Nablus in January
of 1996: "We respect the Oslo agreements and nonviolence as long as they
proceed step by step. When Israel declares, `Enough, we won't talk about
Jerusalem, we won't get into the refugee matter, we won't discuss the
settlements, we won't discuss the borders,' then it is saying that we should
go back to violence, but this time with 30,000 armed Palestinian soldiers in
the cities, while on the ground there are already many elements of liberty,
and at a heavy price to Israel."
Did the PLO give up its goal?
Arafat did not conceal his strategic plan. Barely an hour before the signing
of the Declaration of Principles at the White House on September 13, 1993,
Jordanian television broadcast a brief speech by Arafat, in Arabic, which he
had taped in Washington a few hours earlier. With caution that was
appropriate to the timing, he mentioned the foundations of the PLO's
traditional struggle: liberating Palestine and turning it into an Arab land,
the right of return of the Palestinian diaspora to their homes, "the "stages
plan" from 1974 for gradual fulfillment of that right, and jihad as the
means of fulfilling the plan.
Among other things, he said: "Oh my beloved, do not forget the Palestinian
National Council accepted the decision in 1974. It called for the
establishment of a national authority over any part of Palestinian land that
is liberated or from which Israel would withdraw. This is the fruit of your
struggle, your sacrifices, and your jihad . . . this is the moment of return,
the moment of gaining a foothold on the first piece of liberated Palestinian
land . . . the world recognizes our legitimate national rights, and the unity
between our people and its leadership, the PLO, which merges those who live
in the diaspora and those who stood fast under occupation . . . long live
Palestine, liberated and Arab."
There was no contradiction between what the PLO's leaders were saying
publicly in Arabic, and what was being said to Israeli representatives in
closed-door discussions, and there was no concession on the right of return
of the refugees to their actual homes. Deputy defense minister Mordechai
Gur, who conducted talks with the PLO's representatives during 1994, said
(Ha'aretz, January 30, 1995), "It's not very pleasant to hear what I hear
from the Palestinians. They aren't talking about the house in Hebron or on
Givat Hatamar [in Efrata - Z.B.B.]. They are talking about the university
hill in Tel Aviv . . . Once, during one of the sessions, I called aside the
head of their delegation and told him that if I were to record the
discussions and play them back to the members of my party, not the
opposition, 90 percent of them would say `stop the talks immediately.'"
In early 1995, the Palestinian Information Ministry issued Booklet No. 5 in
which the State of Israel is defined as "land occupied in 1948." Booklet No.
6, "Palestinian refugees and the right of return," published in English 28
years after the 1967 war, refers to "more than four decades of occupation."
It says "the 1947 resolution guarantees the right of return of all those
Palestinians who want to return home and live in peace with their
neighbors." Other sections of the booklet mirror the Palestinian covenant.
"The Palestinian people didn't accept the Balfour Declaration at anytime . . .
The 1947 resolution on the partition of Palestine came only to complement
the unjust laws and military orders enacted by the British Mandate
government - the partition of Palestine was baseless and illegal . . . The
purpose of the Zionist movement was the establishment of a state of their
own at the expense of the original inhabitants of Palestine . . . Arab and
international attempts that sought to convince the Jews to accept
self-autonomy rule in Palestine, were doomed to failure . . . "
Arafat himself declared, with the start of the handover of responsibility
for cities in Samaria to the PLO (Voice of Palestine, November 11, 1995)
that "the campaign is not over until all of Palestine is liberated." A clear
definition of "all of Palestine" was heard from one of the moderates in the
PLO leadership, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) who declared on December 23, 1995 at
the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, inhabited by refugees from the
Beit Shemesh and Beit Guvrin area within Israel proper, "Inshallah, the
return is coming soon."
For Israel, the test of real change in PLO goals would be the implementation
of the commitment included in Arafat's letter from 1993, "the PLO undertakes
to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the
necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant." When prime
minister Peres announced on April 24, 1996 that the annulment that day of
the covenant by the PNC was "the most important ideological event of the
past 100 years in the Middle East," he did not know yet that Arafat had
deceived him. The details of the circumstances were only to become known two
years later, in an article by the legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry in
the years 1993-1996, Joel Singer ("The truth about the covenant," Ma'ariv,
June 19, 1998).
The following are the main points: Israel and the Palestinian Authority
agreed that the PNC would approve the formula "the current covenant is
hereby annulled," but two days before the PNC convened, Arafat told the
government that he could not discharge that commitment. Instead, Israel and
the PA agreed on an alternative, less binding formulation. Instead of
annulment of the covenant, those articles contradicting the letters of
mutual recognition from September 1993 would be immediately removed. But
that compromise also did not work, and the PNC came up with its own
language, which, says Singer, could be interpreted as a decision to amend
the covenant in the future.
When the government realized it had been deceived, it demanded a
"clarification" from Arafat. It received, in English, a false version of the
PNC decision, and coming only a few weeks before the elections in Israel,
the government approved it. Singer said in his article that "this was
blatantly a political decision," and elsewhere in the article states, "I
never gave an opinion to the Israeli government saying that the amendment to
the Palestinian Covenant, as adopted by the PNC, met the Palestinian
The PLO's fraud was exposed by the chairman of the PNC, Salim Za'anun, 10
days after the PNC met. He told Al-Nahar on May 5, 1996, that "the PNC
accepted a `third formulation,' different from what Israel demanded." Five
years later, he revealed the entire truth in a manifesto issued in Cairo on
February 2, 2001: "The PLO Covenant continues to exist, because the PNC was
never convened to ratify the changes that were proposed in the past,
particularly because no legal committee was appointed to draft the necessary
All of this makes clear that even in the years of hope, the PLO did not give
up realization of all its rights, expressed in its doctrine in a consistent
order: first, the right of return of the refugees to their homes, second,
the right of self-determination after the return of the refugees, and third,
the right to establish a state with Jerusalem as its capital on the basis of
the fulfillment of the first two rights. The gap between these three
conditions and the existence of the State of Israel is unbridgeable.
Did the PLO give up terror?
In 1974, Arafat delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly, wearing
a uniform and a pistol on his hip. Nineteen, and then 20, years later, he
tried to repeat that success on two occasions: during the signing of the
Oslo agreement at the White House, and during the Nobel Peace Prize
ceremonies in Oslo. Israel and his hosts convinced him to remove the pistol,
but at both ceremonies, he appeared in combat uniform. The message was
clear: The war was not over. The new political circumstances, after the
signing of the Oslo accord, did not allow Arafat to make direct use of his
organization, Fatah, as a terrorist instrument, so he chose a two-legged
solution: incitement to violence against Israel and terror operations
conducted by proxies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Marwan Barghouti, then head
of Fatah in the Ramallah area and even recently described as a moderate,
explained clearly the basis of the division of terrorist labor during an
interview with NBC at the end of January 1995: "The commitment to cease the
armed struggle only applies to the areas under the Palestinian Authority's
control - in the rest of the areas, it is legitimate."
Arafat himself conducted the incitement. On January 1, 1995, a few
months after a series of lethal suicide bombings inside Israel, he said at a
public gathering in Gaza: "We are all seekers of the path of martyrs,
[mashari shahada, in the original]. And I say to the shaheeds [martyrs] who
have already died, on behalf of the shaheeds who are still alive, that our
vow remains, and our commitment remains, to continue the revolution."
At a convention of the Palestinian Women's Union on June 15, 1995,
Arafat praised Dalal al-Mugrabi, who participated in the Israeli coast road
terrorist attack in the spring of 1978, as "the commander, the star, one of
the heroes who conducted the landing on the beach. She was the commander of
the force that established the first Palestinian republic inside the bus . . .
the woman of whom we are all proud and in whom we take glory . . . "
Four days later, at a memorial gathering for the censorship chief in
Gaza, Arafat declared: "We are all seekers of the path of shaheeds, in the
way of truth and rights, the way of Jerusalem, capital of Palestine . . . We
will continue this long and difficult jihad, the way of martyrdom, through
sacrifice . . . on this difficult jihad, through the fallen, through victory,
through glory, not only for our Palestinian people, but for our Arab and
Mahmud Zuheir, one of the Hamas leaders in Gaza, congratulated Arafat
on his speech during a condolence call the Palestinian leader paid on
January 5, 1996, after the death of "the engineer," Yihye Ayash: "As you say
in all your speeches, Mr. President, we are all seekers of the path of
With this incitement in the background, at the end of 1995, the PLO
reached an operational agreement with Hamas, allowing the organization to
conduct terror actions as long as they do not embarrass the PA. The head of
research in Military Intelligence explained in March 1996: "Arafat believed
the genie would stay in the bottle as long as it suited the interests of the
PA. The understanding his representatives reached in December 1995 with
Hamas representatives - though it never became a formal agreement, but
actually determined the behavior of Hamas and the PA ever since - symbolizes
[Arafat's belief] more than anything.
"Within the framework of this understanding, Hamas implicitly
committed itself not to act against Israel and Israelis from areas within PA
jurisdiction until the end of the IDF redeployment and the elections of the
PA council. Arafat has done practically nothing since to fight the
operational infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad while they exploited
that to prepare a series of terrible attacks. A close examination of
Arafat's behavior and that of his people enables us to see clearly that this
is not merely a policy that began in recent months. It is the conception
that has guided him since he entered the territories in May 1994."
This was officially detailed only four years later in an
English-language publication by the Israeli government, that was prepared by
Military Intelligence (Ha'aretz, November 24, 2000) and included the
following [the parentheses are in the original]:
"An important development was the understanding between the PA and the
Hamas leadership, in preparation for the January 1996 Legislative Council
elections - in effect, encompassing the sort of `rules of the game' for
terrorist action that prime minister Rabin had warned against, more than a
year earlier. What the PA sought (in the draft exchanged with Hamas in
October 1995) was `an end to military operations in or from the National
Authority's territory, or a declaration of them in any form.' The actual
understanding, reached in Cairo between PNC Chairman Salim al-Za'anun and
Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al on December 21, 1995 allowed Hamas to `hold on
to its reservations' as regards the Palestinian commitments (to restrain
terrorism); but the movement did undertake `not to aim at embarrassing the
Authority' - i.e., avoid operations which the PA could be blamed for."
The official report went on to say: "In a joint interview, Za'anun
went so far as to explain that in the event of an attack in Hebron (then
still under Israeli rule), it will not be the Palestinians' duty to do
anything about it; if Israel wants to avoid such action, it should hurry up
and withdraw from the rest of the territories . . . This concept was clarified
by the PLO representative in the Arab League, Mohammed Sbeih, a few months
later (March 8, 1996): Hamas, he said, `had committed itself not to act from
inside Palestinian controlled areas' . . . Throughout the early period of
consolidation in the areas under its control - from May 1994 onward - Arafat
resisted constant pressures by Israel to restrain Hamas and restrict, if not
destroy, the infrastructure established by the terrorist organization. The
failure to do so put in question the basic underpinnings of the Oslo
accords; and its most evident outcome was a sharp rise in the number of
Israelis who fell prey to terrorist attacks during this period."
Shimon Peres summed up the matter succinctly in July 1997: "Until
March 1996, Arafat did not listen to me when I demanded he act against
It is, therefore, clear that even during the years of hope, 1993-1996,
the PLO had not forsworn either its political goals or terror as an
instrument to achieve them. Arafat never intended to keep the glowing
promises he included in his letter to the prime minister of Israel on
September 9, 1993, and the fact that the Oslo agreement was successfully
marketed requires an explanation.
Marketing the Oslo concept
In 1993, the Israeli government faced a dilemma. The Camp David
accords, signed 15 years earlier, did not produce peace between Israel and
its Arab neighbors in Samaria, Judea and the District of Gaza. During the
months of negotiations with the PLO, it became clear to the government that
the organization was demanding far-reaching changes in important elements of
the Camp David accords: the establishment of a legislative council instead
of an administrative council; Israel's relinquishment of its authority in
the territory, and of responsibility for security in those areas removed
from its authority; and the creation of a "strong police force" instead of a
"strong local police force." The choice was clear: either face the risk of
no agreement or the risk of signing an agreement with the PLO that would
profoundly contradict the political and security defense mechanisms anchored
in the Camp David accord.
The difficulties of an agreement with the PLO were not foreign to
then-prime minister Rabin and then-foreign minister Peres in the summer of
1993. In the words of Dr. Yossi Beilin, speaking to the Knesset on January
24, 1990, what they sought was no more than to "lead to a situation in which
the PLO would be the one to accept our political plan and to give a green
light to the Palestinians in the territories to come to terms with us in
order to reach elections."
According to Beilin's book, "Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a
Final Agreement," in June 1993, Rabin ordered a halt to the talks with the
PLO and sent Peres a letter with vehement reservations about the deal that
was taking shape, but shortly afterward, he reauthorized the continuation of
the contacts. A few days before secretly signing an agreement with PLO
representatives, Peres told the Knesset on August 16, 1993: "The Israeli
government will not negotiate with the PLO or with official members of the
PLO. I want to say what revolts me about the PLO: First, I don't want to
negotiate with the diaspora. I want to negotiate with the residents of the
territories. This is not a formalistic issue, this is an essential issue.
Secondly, I do not want to negotiate with elements who are currently dealing
An attempt to avoid signing an agreement directly with the PLO
continued up to the last minute. In the formal version of the Oslo
agreement, the Declaration of Principles, which was signed in Washington -
and as it has been published ever since - one party to the agreement is "the
Government of the State of Israel," and the other party is "the PLO team (in
the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference)
(the `Palestinian delegation') representing the Palestinian people." [All
parentheses and quotes are in the original - Z.B.B.] Under pressure from the
PLO, a few minutes before the signing, that lengthy title was crossed out
with a pen, leaving only the initials PLO. The trap was closed.
The assumption that it was possible to reach a permanent peace with
the PLO by abandoning the critical defensive elements in the Camp David
agreement was disconnected from reality. It is clear today that warning
signs were not lacking, and the fact that many good people accepted the
assumptions of the new era again raises questions about human judgment
regarding the dangers facing individuals and society. It seems that some
cultural, psychological and political elements came together at the time to
blind the leadership, the intelligence community, the academic community,
the media and the public. The main reason for that is the fundamental human
desire to see better days and the psychological inhibitions about dealing
with threatening scenarios. Although such scenarios might come true, the
fact that they belong to the future permits people to comfort themselves
that the threats will never unfold.
Furthermore, one must take into consideration the cultural climate of
the times, in which Francis Fukuyama's essay, "The End of History," shone,
and the consensus was that ideology had passed from the world. But, in fact,
many large groups in the world did not change their ideology and did not
share in the "spirit of the time" that held sway in the universities, the
press and the diplomatic circles of the Western world. The denial of the
importance of striving for the truth, and education about the coexistence of
"relative alternative narratives," combined to soften bitter disputes in the
imaginations of tolerant listeners.
This method was effectively applied by Yossi Beilin, who submitted to
the PLO, during the Taba negotiations in January 2001, a document aimed at a
"just solution for the Palestinian refugees, based on UN General Assembly
Resolution 194, providing for their return . . . " Under the headline
"Narrative," Beilin summarized the source of the dispute thus: "Despite
accepting the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 1947, the
emergent State of Israel became embroiled in the war and bloodshed of
1948-49 . . . " (Source: Le Monde Diplomatique). Questions such as who attacked
the emergent Jewish state were evidently left for another "narrative."
The illusion that even the conflict in the Middle East was
successfully nearing its conclusion was based on the prevailing view in
Western society that every dispute has a solution based on compromise. The
fact that many disputes in the Western world have no agreed solution is
proved by the enormous amount of civil disputes litigated through legal
mechanisms, but slogans, like "meeting half-way" and "territorial
compromise," were entrancing.
In such an atmosphere of peace, a paradoxical "explanation" of the
PLO's violations of the Oslo agreement was easily embraced. It consisted of
the following logical chain: 1. Israel signed an agreement with Arafat. 2.
To fulfill the agreement, Arafat must politically survive. 3. To survive,
Arafat must violate the agreement.
In other words, the agreement cannot be kept unless it is violated.
Nissim Zvilli, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee at the time, recently gave heartfelt expression to that (Ha'aretz,
July 27, 2002): "I remember myself lecturing in Paris and saying that
Arafat's double-talk had to be understood. That was our thesis, proved
[later] as nonsense. Arafat meant every word, and we were naive, thinking
that he is doing it to overcome the resistance to the agreement among his
Oslo's supporters in Israel overcame resistance to the agreement in
our public, but nice achievements in public debate do not mitigate the
hardship s of reality. The tragedies of the past two years were sown in the
first two years. As far as the PLO is concerned, the Oslo agreement was not
derailed and the violence involved in its implementation was dictated from
the moment it was signed. Things could not be any different - and therefore
they were not.
`Oslo criminals - nonsense!'
Ha'aretz Magazine: There will be those who interpret your article as
part of a political agenda - there's nobody to talk to and nothing to talk
about, so the conflict will go on forever. Is that your political
Begin: "Under no circumstances should there be any negotiations with
the PA/PLO. There should certainly be negotiations with representatives of
the Arab residents of Samaria, Judea and the District of Gaza who truly seek
peace with us. Success in the war against the PLO and company is therefore
vital for building a chance to reach peace with our neighbors. Those who
have despaired of this are actually the supporters of the Oslo agreements,
who are now demanding, with even more zealotry, a unilateral withdrawal by
Israel to the 1949 lines.
"The bitter Oslo years prove we cannot reach peace by giving up
homeland. However, those alchemists who failed to bring
peace-by-giving-up-land with an agreement now promise us
serenity-while-abandoning-the-land without an agreement. These desperate
people assume that in the new Middle East, what doesn't happen with retreat
will happen with escape. Escape is a recipe for continuing war; firm
steadfastness is a condition for peace in the future."
There are people who regard the agreement itself as illegitimate,
calling its architects criminals who should be put on trial. What is your
position on this issue?
"In 1993, the Labor government hoped the Oslo agreement would result
in the annulment of the Palestinian Covenant, an end to terror, and lead to
peace. The Knesset ratified the agreement, 61 to 50. In 1998, the Likud
government knew that the Palestinian covenant remained in force, knew that
the operational agreement between the PLO and Hamas about the division of
labor with regard to the use of terrorism remained in place, knew from its
sources - and was explicitly warned - that the PLO intended to violate the
Oslo-Wye agreement. The Knesset approved the Wye agreement 75 to 19. The
slogan `Oslo criminals,' is baseless and is a form of incitement. We have
plenty of problems without such nonsense."
The article is evidence of comprehensive research. What motivated you
to invest such a great effort involved in writing it? How important is it to
you, and what does it contribute to the public debate?
"All the information in the article is available from public sources.
Nonetheless, when I lectured on this subject in the last two years,
including at the National Security College, I was surprised to find that the
audiences was surprised by its content. I thought it was important to bring
the facts to the readers. They'll judge whether it makes a contribution."
This article ran in Ha'aretz on September 6, 2002
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Former Prisoner of Zion Ida
Nudel Appeals to the Vatican ambassador to Save Palestinian Arab
AP Wire, September 5, 2002
[The meeting described herein between Former Prisoner of Zion Ida Nudel and the Vatican ambassador Msgr. Pietro Sambi was facilitated by Israel Resource
News Agency, whose bureau chief, David Bedein, took part in the meeting]
Ex-Soviet dissident tries to save accused Palestinian spy
By The Associated Press
Former Soviet dissident Ida Nudel, who survived four years of Siberian exile and waged a 16-year fight to reach Israel, embarked Wednesday on a new struggle - to save a Palestinian accused of spying for Israel from execution by Palestinian authorities.
Nudel on Wednesday urged the Vatican's representative to the Holy Land, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, to intervene in the Palestinian man's case. "He didn't say yes and he didn't say no," Nudel said in Russian-accented Hebrew as she left the Vatican's offices on the Mount of Olives.
Dozens of suspected Palestinian collaborators have been lynched by mobs, hanged and executed by firing squad during two years of conflict with Israel. Palestinians say the collaborators have helped Israel find leading militants and target them for assassination.
Nudel hopes international pressure might help the accused collaborator, Akram Azzatma, 23, get a fair trial in a Palestinian court and save him from execution. Azzatma, a college student in the Gaza Strip, was arrested July 29 by Palestinian police. He confessed to helping Israeli forces keep tabs on Salah Shehadeh, founder of the military wing of the militant Islamic group Hamas, just before an IAF warplane dropped a one-ton bomb on the Hamas leader's apartment, killing him.
Speaking to reporters last week, Azzatma confessed to informing Israeli agents about the Hamas leader's whereabouts and said others were also involved. He said he was tricked into working with the Israelis two years ago.
Azzatma said he heard the thunderous blast of the F-16 fighter jet dropping its load 20 minutes after telling his Israeli contact by phone that Shehadeh's car had arrived home. "I feel guilty and I deserve any punishment for this crime," he told reporters in a prison interview in Gaza.
In Jerusalem on Wednesday, an Israeli lawyer and Nudel, presented the case to the Vatican and asked for church intervention. "I hope that maybe our efforts will help to save this young fellow," Nudel said.
Nudel, a slight, gray-haired woman, was exiled to Siberia for four years in the late 1970s for hanging protest banners from her apartment balcony. One of them read: "KGB, Give Me My Visa." She was a leading figure among Soviet Jews seeking to escape Soviet persecution and emigrate to Israel. Her efforts earned her the nickname the "Guardian Angel." She finally came to Israel in 1987.
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UN Envoy Larsen Says that His Info about Jenin Came from . . . Official Israeli Sources
On August 30, 2001, UN envoy to the middle east and special UN ambassaodor to the PLO Mr. Terje Larsen, convened a press conference at the Beit Agron International Press Center to express the concern of the UN for the economic plight of the Palestinian Arab population over the past six months. Larsen complained that Israel was taking "draconian" measures against the Arab population which were not justified by Israel's security situation.
This was Mr. Larsen's first press conference in Israel since he visited the UNRWA refugee camp in Jenin when he declared that what he saw was "horrific beyond belief . . . "It is totally destroyed, it looks like an earthquake has hit it . . . Not any objective can justify such action, with colossal suffering"
Larsen's statements at the time lent weight to the Arab claim that "hundreds" of people had been killed
and buried in a "massacre", claims that were later refuted in a comprehensive UN report issued on
August 1, 20002.
In light of the UN report, I asked Mr. Larsen if he would apologize to the people of Israel before Yom Kippur for promulgating the idea of a Jenin massacre.
Larsen said that he did not promulgate any such idea, saying that he was expressing reports that he had heard from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IDF Army spokesman.
Larsen's spokesman called me aside to say that the word of "hundreds of deaths" in the Jenin camp were
communicated by the Israel Foreign Ministry info chief, Gideon Meir and by the IDF spokesman, Mr. Ronn Kitry.
Reached for comment, both Meir and Kitry denied ever having spoken with Larsen, and both called Larsen a liar.
Reacting to Larsen's comments, Israel prime minister's press advisor Mr. Raanan Gisin said that Mr. Larsen's allegations would be worthy of an immediate complaint to the UN Sec'y Gen'l.
It will be recalled that the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had suggested in April that Mr. Larsen should be classified as "persona non grata" by the Israeli government.
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