July 24, 2019

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European leaders don’t remember Camp David or the Second Intifada


In Financial Times, former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland  weighs in about how the two state solution is in danger, and how he is afraid that Israel might annex parts of the West Bank that would become part of Israel in any conceivable peace plan anyway.

He displays, as so many do, a peculiar amnesia about what exactly happened to end negotiations between Israel and the PLO:

For 25 years Europe’s relations with Israelis and Palestinians have been based on the assumption that the promises of a two-state solution would be realised. As the prime minister of Norway when the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, I hoped we had finally seen a breakthrough. Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization sat together, and agreed that they would gradually move towards a negotiated peace within five years.

Tragically, that approach was never seen through. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister who had signed the accords with Yasser Arafat, was assassinated in 1995 for his brave move towards peace. After that, Israel expanded settlements, instead of transferring West Bank territory to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Palestinian factions carried out violent attacks on Israeli civilians as well as military personnel.

There have been repeated attempts to revive negotiations, but all have petered out. 

Actually, Israel did transfer more land to Palestinians after Rabin’s assassination  – 80% of Hebron. The prime minister who made that decision? Benjamin Netanyahu.
That cannot be mentioned because Rabin was a saint and Netanyahu is a right wing warmonger.
But even worse than that lie is the complete absence of mentioning Bill Clinton’s attempts to forge an agreement in 2000 through the end of his term in 2001. Israel agreed – the Palestinians refused. And when negotiations failed, Palestinians started a war against Israeli civilians.
That is important information in understanding why Israel is not more forthcoming for peace. But even with that, Israel offered Palestinians a state in 2008 and accepted a US framework for peace in 2014, both times to be rebuffed again, without a counteroffer.
These facts are relevant to understand the failure of Oslo, but to many people, Oslo is a religion and it doesn’t matter how much proof one has against it, it must be believed in.
Brundtland, together with about 25 other former European diplomats and leaders have signed onto a letter  affirming the two state solution as the only solution ahead of Trump’s proposed plan that is rumored not to include a full Palestinian state. That letter similarly doesn’t mention any peace attempts by Israel that were quashed by Palestinian terror. Only Israel is held to be in violation of Oslo and international law, and only Israel is at fault for the failure of the two state solution, according to these former diplomats trying to be relevant. This op-ed is part of that push.
If these diplomats and former leaders cannot even admit the basic facts about why Oslo failed nearly two decades ago, why should anyone trust that they know what they are talking about now?

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