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OpinionIsrael at War

There is no resuscitating the Oslo delusion

Most Israelis no longer believe that two states are the answer, and that Palestinians will magically be willing to live in peace and security with them.

Photos of civilians who have been held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, displayed on a building in Ramat Gan, Jan. 21, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Photos of civilians who have been held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, displayed on a building in Ramat Gan, Jan. 21, 2024. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a think tank that specializes in the Middle East. She is the author of Saudi Arabia and the Global Terrorist Network (2011).  

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken again visited a handful of Middle Eastern countries this week, including Israel, in an attempt to help calm regional unrest and work for the release of about 105 hostages still being held captive since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. While in Jerusalem, in hand was an offer to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu from Hamas for a ceasefire.

According to an Axios report, what Hamas offered would have come in three stages: In the first 45 days, in return for 1,500 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including those who have been convicted of murder, the Israel Defense Forces would have to leave Gaza, completely. In exchange, the Palestinians would release Israeli women, the elderly and all those under 18. The second phase would release Israeli males of fighting age. The final phase would involve giving Israel the remains of the dead. (It is a sobering reality, but 31 of the remaining hostages were declared deceased earlier this week by Israeli authorities.)

The Oslo Accords were also a phased plan whereby trust was supposed to have been developed with each new stage. Initially, the negotiations were drafted behind closed doors by Yossi Beilin, who held a number of governmental positions in the Labor Party; Ahmed Qurei, a Palestinian politician and negotiator; and Terge Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist. On Sept. 13, 1993, PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (with U.S. President Bill Clinton acting as facilitator) signed the Declaration of Principles and shook hands on the White House lawn. Likewise, Palestinian statehood was to have been earned, not automatically bequeathed on a silver platter.

There had been a slight pause in hostilities, and by May 10, 1994, Arafat spoke at a mosque in Johannesburg calling for a “jihad to liberate all of Jerusalem.” “Peace-loving” spin doctors from the left dubbed Arafat’s declaration of death an “internal struggle.”

So much for “pauses” to guarantee trust. We know that a 135-day pause only amounts to a victory for Hamas, which will only use this time to regroup and try to retake control of the areas in the Gaza Strip.

Let’s remember the sadistic reality that was Oct. 7—the mass murder of approximately 1,200 Israelis, plus rape, torture, mutilation of bodies, the butchering and burning of babies in front of their parents, and approximately 240 men, women and children who were dragged off to Gaza, kept in cages and tunnels to this day.

For some peculiar reason, there seems to be no agency for the attacking party: Hamas operatives, joined by Palestinian residents from Gaza, who engaged in the most sadistic sort of actions against the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Everyone, of course, is praying for the release of all of the hostages. Looking at their omnipresent photos and those of their families is like wrenching out one chamber of our collective hearts, as Jews.

However, before the United States cajoles Israel into anything, it is important to ask: Did anyone cajole the United States into a ceasefire with the Nazis? And can anyone deny that the horrific events of Oct. 7 were Nazi-like?

There is a quite familiar dance that those of us who have been observers of the Middle East for decades have been watching: Israel tries to reach out to its neighbors in peace; its overtures are rejected; Israel is violently attacked; Israel (and Israel alone) is asked to bow its knees and make “painful compromises” for peace.

According to a Jan. 31 report by Barak Ravid, the U.S. State Department has been reviewing policy options for a Palestinian state. The options include bilaterally accepting a Palestinian state; not using its veto power in the United Nations to block admitting Palestine as a full voting member state; and encouraging other nations to recognize Palestine.

Why is this dastardly behavior on the part of Hamas being rewarded by the two-state delusion, once again?

Think back to attempt solutions to the Israeli-Arab conflict: 2002 and the Road Map for Peace; to 1993 and the signing of the Oslo Accords; to 1967 and the Khartoum Conference; to 1947 and the U.N. Partition Plan; to 1937 and the Peel Commission. The Washington foreign-policy establishment always returns to the same old failed paradigm. All of this seems to represent a supreme failure of the imagination.

According to the highly respected Palestinian Center for Survey and Research, in a recent poll, fully 82% of the Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), are in support of the atrocities of Oct. 7.

How could Israel be expected to live in long-term peace and security with such neighbors? What guarantee is there that the reward of a Palestinian state to Israel’s enemies would result in a peace that would endure for generations, let alone years?

And speaking of that recent poll of Palestinians, support for 88-year-old Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority has dropped significantly. When asked who would rule Gaza after the war, only 7% said the P.A. with Abbas in control.

Yet the State Department is talking about a “revived P.A.” Why? Because their covenant, which has never been revoked, talks about a “phased plan” to attack Israel from any area that is evacuated. As opposed to Hamas, which would do it all on the very first day.

It is the P.A., not Hamas, that has established the curriculum of vile antisemitism and the goal of replacing all of Israel with Palestine. It is the P.A. that uses UNRWA schools in the Middle East to incite Arab youth against Jews, with hatred spewed in textbooks. These are the teachings that helped launch the events of Oct. 7.

I recently returned from Israel, and beneath the moral resolve to survive is an almost palpable existential despair. Israelis are willing to fight and die for the right of their people to live within defensible borders. Most no longer believe that two states are the answer—and that Palestinians will suddenly and magically be willing to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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