May 5, 1997..
This Op-Ed, by Aaron Lerner, originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post on May 5, 1997:
"I think we are witnessing the last gasps of violence by those Palestinians who want to block this accord," Labor MK Yossi Beilin told Jerusalem Post reporter David Makovsky on November 30, 1993.
Beilin has never been big on Palestinian violations of the Oslo Accords. When he was deputy foreign minister, he even asked AIPAC to stop compiling reports on PLO compliance. And today he is doing his best to minimize their significance.
Beilin and his fellow travelers have a problem with Binyamin Netanyahu. It appears he may actually insist on some measure of Palestinian compliance before continuing down the Oslo path. In fact, the Ministerial Committee for National Security set some clear requirements, including the confiscation of illegal weapons and action on extraditing suspected terrorists, something few observers believe the Palestinians will ever do.
Days before the signing of the Declaration of Principles, Amos Oz wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "Once peace comes, Israeli doves, more than other Israelis, must assume a clear-cut 'hawkish' attitude concerning the duty of the future Palestinian regime to live by the letter and spirit of its obligations."
Since then Oz, Beilin, and the rest of the Left have done just the opposite. If Oslo was truly just an "experiment," as Beilin and others originally presented it, then it wouldn't be such a disaster if it failed. But as Beilin now readily admits, Oslo was not a test but an attempt by the Labor-Meretz coalition to create permanent Palestinian facts on the ground before the 1996 elections.
The Left was determined to make the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza unstoppable, regardless of the decision made by the Israeli electorate in its first chance to vote on the issue since Oslo became more than a city in Norway.
Why the rush to oblivion? In Friday's Jerusalem Post, Beilin made the simplistic argument that as long as Israel continues to make concessions ("progress in peace negotiations") there won't be a war. He conveniently avoids the logical extension of that argument: that war will break out when Israel has nothing left to concede. Indeed the concessions made before that day of reckoning will make the "war option" that much more attractive to Arabs.
Now Netanyahu is doing the little he can under the agreement which Beilin and his colleagues drafted. Israel can build settlements, set the extent of further redeployments, and require strict controls on Palestinian ports.
These same agreements require the PLO to break up and disarm Palestinian militias, extradite terrorists to Israel for trial, and refrain from incitement. In other words Israel is acting legally and the PLO isn't. It's Palestinian intransigence that keeps their ports closed, not Israeli stonewalling.
So instead of talking about violations of the agreements, Beilin talks about violations of some amorphous "spirit of Oslo," giving equal footing in his "five-point plan" to legal Jewish construction and illegal Palestinian arms smuggling. And instead of calling for an end to Palestinian terror, Beilin opts for a mutual call against terror and violence, knowing full well that this means bolstering the Palestinian equation between suicide bombers and bulldozers on Har Homa. His plan calls for an immediate further redeployment in return for Palestinian "commitments." That's not land for peace, that's land for words.
It's bad enough that Beilin and his ilk are doing everything they can to deny Israel its moral advantage in the court of world opinion. But this isn't the only reality which they have distorted.
The "Beilin-Mahmoud Abbas plan" may also not be what Beilin has been telling the public. According to Dr. Khalil Shikaki of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies in Nablus, there are "two readings of the same document... There is no such thing as an accurate reflection of the document. It's a question of how people see it. Both sides tell the people what they want to see in it."
What drives Beilin to ignore the obvious? I'll leave that to the psychologists. After all, here is a man who, instead of dealing with the world as it is, insists on "convincing himself that everything will be OK... I simply am not prepared to live in a world where things can't be solved," (Ha'aretz, March 7, 1997).
We all share Beilin's hope that our problems can be solved. But that doesn't mean ignoring reality to get there.
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