Sunday, March 18, 2018

Avi Gil and the Failure of the Oslo Accords

Avi Gil, long-time Shimon Peres confidant, was asked on the occasion of the publication of his memoir:

Today the Oslo Accords are perceived as a failure by large parts of the Israeli public. Do you still believe in it?

and replied: 

“I will not deny that significant mistakes were made by both sides. On the Palestinian side, they did not control and did not stifle the terrorism effectively. That was a terrible wrong, flaw or sin – all those words are correct. Both because of the victims who died and also because it sabotaged the possibility of progressing from there. And on our side, especially, because of the settlements. Because according to the Palestinian narrative – and I don’t have a good answer when they thrust it in my face – they say: ‘In Oslo we made a tremendous concession from our point of view, of 75 percent of our dream, of what in our opinion is ours, of the territory between the sea and the river, and what has been left to us are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which constitute about 25 percent. We agreed to recognize you on the basis of our understanding that Gaza and the West Bank are ours, it doesn’t matter in what form [not necessarily as a state, but as long as they could see the land as theirs], and since then you have been eating away at that territory. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a right-wing or left-wing government, since we signed on the White House lawn, the number of settlements has done something between doubling and tripling.’”

Two comments.

One, the assumption that 'settlements' equals 'terror' is a huge failing by those who, like Gil, seek to understand, as it were, why did Oslo fail. The terror preceded political Zionism, Balfour, the Mandate and the state and the "occupation".

Second, the accords specifically applied an exclusion category to the issue of Jewish residency locations in Judea and Samaria.  As explained here:

Neither the Oslo Accords, nor any subsequent signed Israel-Palestinian agreement put any restriction on settlement growth in Area C, the Israeli-controlled area of the West Bank.

Article 5, Section 3 of the Oslo Accords, which deals with what will be discussed during permanent status negotiations, makes it clear that the future of the settlements would be resolved only through direct negotiations between the two parties. No other article limits construction of or in settlements.

Moreover, this was confirmed in 1997 by then-US Secretary of State Madeline Albright who told NBC that while she disagreed with an Israeli decision to build new dwellings in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, “it’s legal”. Asked by Reuters if Albright was changing US policy of ambiguity regarding the legal status of Israeli settlements, her spokesperson James Rubin clarified that “All she meant by that was that as a technical matter, Oslo does not prohibit the settlements” or “[the construction of additional] housing in [the West Bank settlement of] Efrat.”

So typical of the Oslo proponents.

And Peres admirers.

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