In retrospect, we cannot say much more about the Oslo accords than that they were an attempt at peace, a risky attempt, that failed. As much as I hate to admit it, they certainly failed, most spectacularly, when Palestinians broke the agreements after September 2000, and refused to accept the Clinton offer, adopted by the Israelis in December of 2000 or the Barak offer made in January of 2001 at Taba.
Perhaps the crowning episode of the Oslo fiasco was the election of Hamas to govern the Palestinian authority. The Palestinian authority was set up officially only for the purpose of concluding a peace agreement with Israel. The election laws of the Palestinian authority supposedly bar candidates who support terror, under the Oslo Interim Agreement.
Nonetheless, candidates who support terror and an organization that advocates terror ran in these elections, won the elections, and now approve of terror attacks as part of their governmental activities that are supposed to promote peace and a final settlement.
Thus, it seems that we have accept the verdict of history. Perhaps in a generation or two generations there will be peace, and the Oslo years will be viewed in a different light, as a prelude to better times. From the present perspective, the Oslo process was a noble and tragic failure. There might be a new and better peace process in the future, but the Oslo process is dead, and it was a failure.
There are some for whom this verdict is inconvenient. Some are still riding the Oslo horse, and do not notice that it is dead. Others try to blame Israel for the failure, making out that the Israeli or American offers in 2000 were for a state of "Bantustans" rather than what it was.
In fact, at Taba, Israel offered to return 97% of the land and share Jerusalem. The Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar, stated that it would be a crime to reject the earlier American offer that Israel had accepted. That offer was not as good as the Taba offer, but Yasser Arafat rejected both. Nonetheless, the myth persists that the Palestinians turned down a bad deal. It is accompanied by the myth that the second Intifada of 2000 was started when Ariel Sharon visited the "Al Aqsa Mosque" on September 28, 2000. This lie can be found in many places.
For example: (at http://www.nmhschool.org/tthornton/mehistorydatabase/intifada_2000.htm )
....this in light of the Mitchell Commission's finding that Ariel Sharon's visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000 did not in and of itself cause of the intifada.
Examination of contemporary news reports shows rather conclusively that though Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (Haram as Sharif), he did not enter any mosques.
Nostalgia is a great distorter of history. It can turn the Middle Ages or the great depression, periods of horror and suffering, into "the good old days" - fictional periods of romance and heroism or heroism and nobility. A movement to nostalgize the "good old days" of the Oslo accords is well under way. M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel policy forum, ably assisted by Shmuel Rosner of Ha'aretz, tries to argue the case for Oslo based on the false contention that the last three years of the Oslo accords (or four years, since he mentions the period 1997-2000 but calls it "three years") were the "safest" in Israeli's history. In doing so, they wipe out the memory of scores of terror victims at the stroke of a pen, because those victims are inconvenient "details" that Mar their grand conception.
Those who want to believe such inventions will believe them. No doubt their beliefs help them get through the day. However, we must separate facts from beliefs. The Oslo accords were a noble and necessary experiment. Any decent person would have taken the risks that the Israeli governments took for peace. They failed. The failure was not due only to Arafat, since Abu Mazen, his successor, insisted on right of return for Palestinian refugees and was not able or willing to control terror either. The failure might have been in part exacerbated by Israeli actions after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, which included an unprecedented building boom in the West Bank. However, whatever the reasons, the peace process failed. No good cause will be served by hiding the obvious truth, fudging statistics as Rosenberg does, or inventing events that didn't occur, such as the mythical August 2004 truce led by the Hamas that is mentioned in an article in the Australian.
Most Israelis now accept that the Oslo peace process has failed, and that other solutions must be sought. Having said that, we must add that this failure is not a cause for celebration for Zionists or for Israel. It is not an excuse to entrench the occupation, formulate grandiose plans for transferring Palestinians or annex territory. Zionists must understand that the failure of the Oslo process must not mean the failure of peace efforts for all time, for if there will be no peace, then eventually there will be no Israel.
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