Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A 20th Anniversary Approaching

May I remind you that

On the night between August 18th and 19th, Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst served as a mediator between Peres, who was located at the time in Stockholm, Sweden, and Arafat and Abu Alaa from PLO headquarters in Tunisia. The Declaration of Principles was initialed the following day. It was signed by Savir, Abu Alaa, Singer, and Hassan Asfur, in the presence of Peres.

The outline of the process:

The decision to hold direct talks with the PLO was a diplomatic revolution in Israel’s foreign policy and paved the way to the Oslo accord of 13 September 1993.  Three men were primarily responsible for this decision: Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, the foreign minister, and Yossi Beilin, the youthful deputy foreign minister.  Rabin held out against direct talks with the PLO for as long as he could.  Peres took the view that without the PLO there could be no settlement...

...The secret talks in Oslo got under way in late January 1993 with the active encouragement of Yossi Beilin who kept Shimon Peres fully informed. Altogether, fourteen sessions of talks were held over an eight-month period, all behind a thick veil of secrecy. Norwegian foreign affairs minister Johan Joergen Holst and social scientist Terge Rød Larsen acted as generous hosts and facilitators. The key players were two Israeli academics, Dr Yair Hirschfeld and Dr Ron Pundik, and PLO treasurer Ahmad Qurei, better known as Abu Ala...

...Rabin’s conversion to the idea of a deal with the PLO was clinched by four evaluations which reached him between the end of May and July. First was the advice of Itamar Rabinovich, the head of the Israeli delegation to the talks with Syria, that a settlement with Syria was attainable but only at the cost of complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Second were the reports from various quarters that the local Palestinian leadership had been finally neutralized. Third was the assessment of the IDF director of military intelligence that Arafat’s dire situation, and possibly imminent collapse, made him the most convenient interlocutor for Israel at that particular juncture. Fourth were the reports of the impressive progress achieved through the Oslo channel...the army chiefs and the internal security chiefs repeatedly stressed to him the urgency of finding a political solution to the crisis in the relations between Israel and the inhabitants of the occupied territories.  Rabin therefore gave the green light to the Israeli team and the secret diplomacy in Oslo moved into higher gear.

...On 23 August, Rabin stated publicly for the first time that ‘there would be no escape from recognizing the PLO.’...On Monday, 13 September 1993
, the Declaration was signed on the South Lawn of the White House and sealed with the historic hand-shake between prime minister Rabin and chairman Arafat.

Oslo, when the 'peace' went out into the cold.


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