It will be 30 years in September since a grim Yitzhak Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn with a beaming Yasser Arafat following the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) that marked the beginning of what many thought could be a five-year road to peace. Plenty of people were skeptical and now are happy to say, “I told you so.” There will be plenty of time for the rehash on the anniversary of the Oslo Accords, but I was struck by a statistic that really tells you all you need to know about why the cynics proved right.
A mother and her two daughters became victims 1,658, 1,659 and 1,660 of Palestinian terrorists since the signing of that agreement.
Recall the Oslo peace process and every subsequent agreement was based on Arafat’s letter to Rabin on Sept. 9, 1993, in which he made four commitments:
- The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
- The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
- The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.
- The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators (emphasis added).
Some may argue whether the Palestinians fulfilled the first three commitments, but there is no debate as to the fourth. This was the most important promise and one that was broken almost immediately (the DoP was signed on Sept. 13, and Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death on Sept. 24). In subsequent negotiations, the Palestinians would make the same pledge as if it were a new concession that required Israeli reciprocation. Each time, it was not worth the paper it was printed on.
I’ve always believed that Rabin was determined to evacuate the territories and Oslo was essentially a way to do it unilaterally, despite the appearance of mutual understandings. That is why he continued to negotiate despite the ongoing terror.
Shimon Peres intended to continue Rabin’s policy but was undone by a paroxysm of violence, which led to the election of Benjamin Netanyahu. Though he had campaigned against Oslo, it was Netanyahu who agreed to the Wye River Memorandum, which called for the withdrawal from an additional 13% of the West Bank. Three days later, Danny Vargas, 29, of Kiryat Arba, was shot to death in Hebron. Three days after that, Sgt. Alexey Neykov, 19, was killed when a terrorist drove an explosives-laden car into an Israeli army jeep escorting a bus with 40 elementary-school students from the settlement of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. The continuing terror allowed Netanyahu to resist U.S. pressure to carry out the redeployment.
Ehud Barak followed with his offer to Arafat of statehood. Arafat rejected it and instigated the Second Intifada. During the five years of that Palestinian War, another 1,100 Israelis were killed. In the middle of the uprising, George W. Bush attempted to resurrect the peace process but Phase I of his Road Map required the Palestinians to immediately end violence, terrorism, and incitement. Instead, they killed more than 300 Israelis.
The number of fatalities has declined since, but it is not for lack of Palestinian determination. When I started to write this column, the week’s headlines included:
Two IDF Soldiers Stabbed by Palestinian in Central Israel
Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire at Israeli Kibbutz
Terrorists From Palestinian Authority Open Fire on IDF Cargo Plane
The head of the Shin Bet said the other day that the security service had prevented more than 200 “significant” terrorist attacks since the beginning of the year, including “about 150 shooting attacks, 20 bomb attacks, car-rammings, suicide bombings, kidnappings and more.”
Despite this reality, some people still argue Israel has a partner with whom to negotiate and are surprised that so few people in Israel believe it. They are baffled that the Palestinian issue has barely been mentioned in the last five elections and that Israel elected a right-wing government that opposes compromise with the Palestinians.
The reaction of the Biden administration to the incessant violence, to reward the Palestinians with aid and encouragement, is appalling.
The number of Israeli fatalities is equal to roughly 57,000 Americans—that is nearly as many as died in eight years of fighting in Vietnam.
Imagine the U.S. response to the murderers of that many Americans. You don’t have to guess because we know. Following 9/11, we launched a war on terror, fought two wars in Iraq, and continue to seek out and kill members of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Still, Israelis are pilloried for taking measures to protect their citizens. Yes, there is sometimes collateral damage and innocent Palestinians die. That is a tragic byproduct of a war against terrorists who use civilians as shields. It is also the price Palestinians pay for failing to fulfill the commitment Arafat made, allowing terrorists to hide among them and glorifying killers.
Not too many Americans thought twice about the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed during U.S. combat operations. There were no U.N. resolutions after 48 people were killed when bad intelligence led to the U.S. bombing of a wedding party. I could cite many other examples of the double standard used to judge Israeli counterterror operations.
I’m sick of hearing from U.S. officials that Israel should act with restraint, de-escalate, stop building settlements, maintain the status quo, and equate terrorism and counterterrorism ad nauseam. I want to hear the president and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken say that 1,600 Israelis have been murdered since the Palestinians pledged to end terror. It is unacceptable, and the United States will not provide one penny to the Palestinians, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) or to any other organization whose funds can be used to underwrite the murder of Israelis and while the killers and their families receive payments as rewards and incentives for killing Jews. There will be no opening of a consulate, there will be no support for them at the United Nations, and their officials will be treated the same as other sponsors of terror.
Everything else they say about the “Palestinian issue” is meaningless blather.
If you believe in peace, whether it be a two-state or some other solution, history has proven nothing can be achieved without putting a permanent stop to Palestinian terror.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby,” “Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”