It is amazing how, to this day, 25 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the agreement continues to serve the interests of all those seeking the ‘culprit’: the culprit in the intifada, the culprit in the global political situation and the local culprit in every event or issue that calls for a distraction from reality.
They make big announcements and declarations such as, “the Oslo Agreement was a disaster for the State of Israel”. I, on the other hand, think that the time has come for us to expose the great bluff that they have been hiding behind for at least 19 years, since the validity of the interim agreement ended.
The Oslo I Accord Was Just a Beginning
It should be remembered that the Oslo I Accord, signed in 1993, was an interim agreement, meaning that from 1999, a permanent agreement should have been put in place. However, political events, mainly the assassination of Rabin, left the Accord in a state of uncertainty. Since then, the agreement has not been advanced, has not been changed, and most interestingly, has not been aborted.
Since 1996, Israel’s mostly Likud prime ministers—Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert—spoke out against the agreement, but none of them dared to breech it. Moreover, for 22 years, Likud governments have maintained and strengthened the principles on which the interim agreement was drawn up and signed. The question arises – why? The answer is clear: none of those prime ministers were interested in sending the State of Israel back to the situation that existed prior to the agreement. None of them wanted to be the one who sinks the country into the deep hole it would have been hurled into had it not been for this agreement.
Bibi Netanyahu went even further. While one hand pointed an accusing finger at the Oslo Accords, the other signed the 1996 Hebron Protocol, a far-reaching agreement that Yitzhak Rabin would not have dared to sign. In short, there is no doubt that the Oslo Accords, which everyone loves to hate, well serve the security and political interests of all these leaders.
We’re Here, and They’re There
The Oslo Accords were the first agreement signed for the purpose of separating us both physically and economically from the Palestinians. The agreement was the beginning of the path to separation, without us having to give up what is most important to us—control over security. The entire agreement is in fact based on this principle. I can agree that there are aspects of the agreement that can and should be improved, but I repeat that this is an interim agreement. From the outset it was marked as a five-year target for evaluation and reexamination. Today, it is clear that the principles that were good for us in 1994 are still good for us today.
The agreement created a physical separation between us and the Palestinians, as well as an economic separation. In fact, today Palestinian daily life does not cost us money. We are not responsible for them, which was not true before 1994. At that time, the Israeli Civil Administration controlled the Palestinian economy, and the army and the police operated in the big and crowded cities: Ramla, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron. People tend to forget all these facts, all the complexities. It is important that we remember them; it is important that we remember what the agreement liberated us from. Today everything that happens there is no longer at the expense of the State.
If the State of Israel had to continue funding the activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, we would be forced to part with billions of dollars a year that would have come out of the state budget. If not for the Oslo Accords, all the economic welfare, investments in high-tech and other fields would have gone down the drain.
Palestinian Autonomy without Giving up Control over Israeli Security
The Oslo agreement created a situation that offered the Palestinians autonomy and self-management, but the real “bonus” for Israel was that we maintained control over our security. Today, the Palestinians are living in a ‘civilian prison’. We keep a close eye on them, control the crossings and limit their movement. From an Israeli point of view, this is a huge advantage, because it is we who control the security, we are not involved in their lives on the inside and we also receive help from them in capturing terrorists.
I tend to observe every diplomatic and military move in Israel pragmatically. The proof of this is my support for the Disengagement Plan led by Ariel Sharon. Although the plan has its drawbacks, like any plan or move, and it is based on a unilateral agreement that contradicts my principles and values, I certainly do believe that it served the needs of the State. The plan was right for the time in which it was established, because Israel could simply not remain in Gaza, and I definitely believe that internal control is a lot worse than controlling from the outside. For these reasons I supported Sharon’s plan, a plan which was much more far-reaching than the Oslo Accords, and was orchestrated by a prime minister who was the “father of the settlements” and the creator of the most extreme policy Israel has implemented.
The 25 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords is a long enough period for soul-searching. The time has come to expose the bluff towering over the heads of various self-righteous politicians—that the Oslo Accords are terrible and that no one wants them. The truth must come to light; Oslo was the first step in a necessary and right direction. It is certainly not the same culprit or evil that is so convenient and simple for so many to hate.