Friendship? Hardly: Rabin, Arafat & the Oslo Accords
by DARLENE CASELLA
November 8, 2012
Chief Rabbi of Israel Eli Ben-Dahan, a candidate for the Knesset, believes it is time to officially put an end to the Oslo process. The Hamas terrorist organization, in violation of the Oslo Accords, does not recognize the State of Israel, and uses violence against it. Meanwhile tax money transfers from Israel to the Palestinian Authority continue and it goes largely go to Hamas.
Israel - Palestinian relations hoped for peace in 1993 with the Oslo Accord. President Bill Clinton witnessed the signing ceremony between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat; Mahmoud Abbas (PLO), Shimon Peres (Israel), Warren Christopher (United States), and Andrei Kozyrev (Russia) also signed.
This Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements was intended to have a five year limit. During that time, creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from Gaza and the West Bank would take place. In 1996 negotiations began on issues such as positions on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, and security. Today these issues remain without resolution.
PLO recognition of Israel's right to exist, Israel recognition the PLO as Palestine's official representative, and the PLO renouncing the use of violence were in the Declaration. It is disputed whether or not Arafat recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced terrorism. However, there are copies of a 9/9/93 letter from Arafat to Rabin confirming those commitments. Oslo II was signed in 1995 which gave Palestinians self rule in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, and over 450 villages in the West Bank. By the end of that decade the Oslo plan disintegrated. Rabin was assassinated and violence renewed.
President George W. Bush announced a Road Map for Peace, which Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas signed in 2003. It was another failed attempt to settle the Israel-Palestinian conflict; and included a two state solution.
Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister when Jewish Israeli's were forced to leave their homes in Gaza, and in the West Bank. It was called disengagement. Member of Knesset Benjamin Netanyahu disagreed with disengagement. In 2004 there was a human chain of tens of thousands of Israelis protesting the plan for disengagement. In 2005 more than 100,000 Israelis marched in protest throughout Israel. They were against forced eviction of all Jewish Gaza residents, demolition of the residential buildings; and dismantlement of the settlements in the West Bank.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged President Bush to back elections in Gaza. In January 2006 the terrorist Hamas party won and ousted the Fatah party. A branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas controls Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank. Ismail Haniya heads Hamas, and Mahmoud Abbas heads the PA, both governments consider themselves to be the legitimate government. Conflicts between the leaders continue.
After acquiring control of Gaza, Hamas began rocket attacks on Israel which continue today. Israel's Iron Dome Air Defense has prevented a large toll of lives. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote "No one seems to notice Palestinian terrorists operating from the Gaza Strip.... This year more than 800 rockets and mortars seriously injure people and thousands are forced into bomb shelters. If this incoming fire were landing in Texas from Mexico - or Southern Spain from North Africa - it would be a major story."
Under the Oslo Agreement, the West Bank and Gaza are in a customs union administered by Israel. Taxation on the Palestinian Authority is a complex system of tariffs and value added taxes on Israeli goods and services and on foreign imports. Israel keeps a portion of the tax for payment of water and power bills of Palestinian citizens, and forwards the rest; which is about two thirds of the PA self generated revenues. Sometimes Israel refuses to transfer some of the revenues to the terrorist Hamas led PA in response to violence and terrorist attacks; and sometimes for other reasons. For example, when Mahmoud Abbas bid for full membership in the United Nations, admission to UNESCO, and to reconcile Hamas with Fatah, Israel refused to transfer $200 million during October and November of 2011. Israel always releases revenues for humanitarian purposes, medicine and health needs.
The Oslo Accords have proven unsuccessful; issues that were to be negotiated remain unresolved. Rocket and mortar attacks are a regular occurrence. Children run into bomb shelters. Hamas does not honor the Accords, Israel does. Israel is obligated to transfer tax revenue which helps to finance a terrorist government that calls for Israel's destruction. What is wrong with this picture?
Darlene Casella was, before her retirement, an English teacher, a stockbroker, and president/owner of a small corporation. She lives with her husband in La Quinta, California, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org