During the 20 years since the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinians have remained enemies, approximately 2,000 Israelis have been killed by terrorists and living conditions for the Palestinians have gotten worse, say a group of panelists who spoke at an Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) luncheon last week. So, they wonder, why is the Obama administration going down that same path.
“Oslo has failed. It’s finished. It’s dead. It’s about time to find a new approach to peace,” said Danny Danon, deputy minister of defense and a Knesset member for the Likud Party.
Danon, who addressed the crowd via Skype from Israel, said his country would be better off with Jordan or Egypt as a peace partner rather than wasting time working on “another failed accord with the Palestinians.”
About 100 people attended the Oct. 3 panel discussion that’s part of a series sponsored by Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, who are large donors for Republican and Israeli causes. Also speaking were Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum who has worked in the U.S. State and Defense departments; Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, a former diplomat at the Israeli Embassy; and Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine.
The optimism that followed the famous handshake at the White House between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat has faded away. But a recent push by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to rekindle peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis have many on the conservative side wondering what the point is of another fruitless effort.
Should these peace talks result in a two-state solution, one for Israel and one for Palestine, the speakers predicted dire consequences.
“If God forbid, there is a Palestinian state, it would be another entity of terrorism, closer to my home,” Danon said.
Ettinger said a two-state solution will end American influence in the Mideast and “enhance the presence of Russia, China and North Korea.” It will also allow Iran to move into that region.
He said the Palestinians believe Israel is part of an area “divinely ordained to be Muslim,” noting that Palestinians teach this to their children, preach it in their mosques and print it in their government-controlled press.
“One should learn from the history of Oslo by refraining from repeating the errors of Oslo,” he said, adding that America’s attempt at peace has failed “not twice, but umpteen times.”
People need to realize that Israel didn’t trade land for peace, “it traded land for terror.” And now, he said, Israel “puts itself in the place of a thief” having to return its own land.
“Israelis speaks of security. Palestinians speak of rights,” Tobin said.
The journalist praised the conservative activists in the audience, saying it was because of them “Israel can say no to John Kerry and Barack Obama. We give it the power to do so.”
He used harsh words to describe those who are all for renewed peace talks aimed at having Israelis and Palestinians living in peace, side by side.
“This is easier if you are J Street or Americans for Peace Now” whom he mimicked by saying they believe, “If we just try really hard, click our heels and say I believe in fantasy,” it will all work out.
Pipes said the aftermath of Oslo is increased terrorism and poorer Palestinians. “Israel paid for Oslo. So did the PLO.”
History shows that peace accords between enemies do not work. “Peace almost always requires one side to be defeated.”
Obama administration officials believe “that if you solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, it will help all the other Mideast issues,” including Iran’s attempts to gain nuclear weapons.
“I think it’s dead wrong,” he said. Israeli-Palestinian animosity is peripheral. “It is not the source. It’s the symptom” of Mideast problems.