[September 13, 2018] In 1994, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” The problem, as we can see 25 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords on this date, September 13, 1993, that the entire accords were a disaster and a failure at nearly every level.
I believe that it is valuable to look back to any major event that affects the strategic position of nations and evaluate how senior-level decisions faired in the long term. We can do this with the Oslo Accords which everyone, including U.S. President Bill Clinton, had high hopes of fixing one of the most irresolvable problems in modern times.
The basis of the Oslo Accords was to bring peace when peace was not wanted. On the 20th anniversary of the accords, Michael Freud looked back for a thorough analysis and blow-by-blow explanation of the main political players and the background on which the idealism was centered. In fact, he calls it one of the “greatest strategic blunders in [Israel’s] modern history.”
“Oslo was a disaster. It divided the people and land of Israel, failed to bring peace, established a hostile Palestinian entity, weakened the Jewish state’s deterrence posture and empowered Hamas.” – Michael Freud, Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2013
One problem, as Freud noted, is that a basic understanding of diplomacy is that you cannot make a deal with a terrorist or a terrorist organization. A second problem is that the leaders in Israel have refused to acknowledge the mistakes made during the negotiations and signing of accords and the damage caused to both Israel and the Palestinian peoples.
Arafat and his political friends got enormously rich, personally. Rabin was assassinated two years after the signing at the end of a rally to support the Oslo Accords in Tel Aviv.1
The failure of the Oslo Accords, however, can be laid at the feet of Yasser Arafat. A few years after the accords were signed; there was a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks when buses were blowing up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Only then did the people of Israel begin to realize the magnitude of the failures of their leaders.
Jonathan S. Tobin writes that “we should mark this anniversary by giving up on the illusions that were paid for in blood and crushed hopes.”2 Today, United States’ leaders should pay close attention to the failures of Jewish, American, and Palestinian leaders at Oslo.