The Oslo Disaster Revisited: How It Happened

By September 13, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Precisely two decades after the failure by the Golda Meir government to identify a willing Arab peace partner triggered the devastating 1973 Yom Kippur war, another Labor government wrought a far worse catastrophe by substituting an unreconstructed terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction for a willing peace partner. Instead of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the “Oslo peace process” between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) created an ineradicable terror entity on Israel’s doorstep that has murdered some 1,600 Israelis, rained thousands of rockets and missiles on the country’s population centers, and toiled tirelessly to delegitimize the right of the Jewish state to exist.

This blunder is all the more mindboggling given that neither Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin nor Foreign Minister Shimon Peres desired the advent of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Peres subscribed to Labor’s old formula of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation, while Rabin envisaged “an entity short of a state that will independently
run the lives of the Palestinians under its control” (as he told the Knesset a month before his assassination) within narrower boundaries than the pre-June 1967 lines and with Jerusalem excluded from its territory.

Not only did Rabin not view the Oslo process in anything remotely reminiscent of the posthumous idealism misattributed to him, but he would have preferred to avoid it altogether in favor of an Israeli-Syrian agreement, and in its absence, a deal with the West Bank and Gaza leadership. Rabin found himself skidding down a slippery slope into a process he deemed “a national disaster,” brokered by a colleague he deeply distrusted, and inextricably binding him to a partner he profoundly loathed. He repeatedly
lamented that had he known Arafat’s real intentions in advance he would never have signed the Oslo accords, yet he failed to take the necessary measures to stop the slide into the abyss.

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Prof. Efraim Karsh
Prof. Efraim Karsh

Prof. Efraim Karsh is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Email: [email protected]