“I think we are witnessing the last gasps of violence by those Palestinians who want to block this accord,” Yosse Beilin told Jerusalem Post reporter David Makovsky. Way back on November 30th, 1993!
Labor MK Yosse Beilin has never been big on Palestinian violations. When he was Deputy Foreign Minister he even asked AIPAC to stop compiling reports on PLO compliance. And today he is doing his best to minimize their significance.
Beilin and his fellow travelers have a problem now with Netanyahu. As of this writing it appears that the PM may actually insist on some measure of Palestinian compliance before continuing down the Oslo path. In fact, the Ministers’ Committee for National Security set some clear requirements, including the confiscation of illegal weapons and action on Israel’s requests for the transfer of terrorist suspects. Something which few observers believe the Palestinians will ever do.
Days before the signing of the Declaration of Principles, Amos Oz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that “Once peace comes, Israeli doves more than other Israelis, must assume a clear-cut ‘hawkish’ attitude concerning the duty of the future Palestinian regime to live by the letter and spirit of its obligations.”
Since then Oz, Beilin and the rest of the Left have done just the opposite.
If Oslo was truly just an “experiment”, as Beilin and others originally presented it, then it wouldn’t be such a disaster if it failed. But as Beilin now readily admits, Oslo was not a test but instead an attempt by the Labor-Meretz coalition to create permanent Palestinian facts on the ground before the 1996 elections. Forget about all the talk about “mandate” and “democratic process”. The Left was determined to make the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza unstoppable, regardless of what the Israeli people should decide when given their first chance to vote since “Oslo” became more than a city in Norway. So here we are after the elections and Netanyahu is finally starting to do the little that he can under the very agreement which Beilin and his colleagues drafted. Under the agreements which they negotiated, Israel can build settlements, set the extent of each of the further redeployments (FRD) and require strict controls on Palestinian ports. These same agreements require the PLO to break up and disarm Palestinian militias, transfer terrorists to Israel for prosecution and refrain from incitement.
Got the score? Israel is acting legally and the PLO isn’t. So instead of talking about violations of the agreements, Beilin talks about violations of some amorphous “spirit of Oslo”, giving equal footing in his “five point plan” to legal Jewish construction and illegal Palestinian arms smuggling. And instead of calling straight out for an end to Palestinian terror, Beilin opts to sap it of meaning by making it a mutual call against terror and violence, knowing full well that this means bolstering the Palestinian equation that a bomb in Apropo is no more violent than a bulldozer on Har Homa or the imposition of temporary restrictions on the entry of Palestinian workers.
It’s bad enough that Beilin and his ilk are doing everything they can to deny Israel its moral advantage in the court of world opinion. But this isn’t the only reality which they have distorted.
Labor leaders assured the public that everything was under control since the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had a “map in his mind” of the final agreement. Beilin, a key player in the negotiations, recently admitted that Rabin never let him take a peak at the map. After he was murdered, Leah Rabin explained to Beilin that Rabin had no plan.
The “Beilin-Mazen plan” may also not be what Beilin has been telling the public. When Dr. Khalil Shikaki, the Columbia University educated head of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies (CPRS) in Nablus, released his most recent poll, he surveyed support for what he terms “a Palestinian version of the so-called Abu Mazen-Beilin Permanent Status Plan.”
When I asked Dr. Shikaki how he came up with the idea that there were different Palestinian and Israeli versions to Beilin-Mazen, he explained that there are “two readings of the same document…There is no such thing as an accurate reflection of the document. It’s a question of how people see it. Both sides tell the people what they want to see in it.” Shikaki’s version is “based on newspaper reports and conversations with various people.”
It would be easy enough to clear the air on this question if Beilin would make the document public. But as Orit Shani, MK Beilin’s Legislative aide, explained, “Beilin and Peres are the only Israelis who have seen it.”
Beilin’s spokesman, Amir Abramowitz, also hasn’t seen the plan. But that doesn’t stop him from denying Palestinian claims that the plan includes an understanding that the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem will ultimately be under Palestinian sovereignty.
Likud MK Michael Eitan, whose Beilin-Eitan plan is touted by Beilin as an extension of Beilin-Mazen, also hasn’t seen the plan. “Out of all the hours we spoke, Beilin gave an oral presentation of the Beilin-Mazen plan which took between a quarter hour and twenty minutes.”
Eitan himself claims that the Beilin-Mazen plan doesn’t matter to him. But if the plan does not exist, or is subject to radically different interpretations, then the compromises made by those who endorsed it in the belief that this was the last step towards an agreement were nothing more than a weakening of what at best may be Beilin’s idea of Israel’s opening position.
What drives Yosse Beilin to do this? I’ll leave that to the psychologists. But don’t expect a purely logical explanation. After all, here is a man who, instead of dealing with the world as it is, insists on “convincing himself that ‘yihyeh tov’ [it will be good]…I simply am not prepared to live in a world where things can’t be solved.” (“Haaretz” 7 March, 1997).
We all share Beilin’s hope that our problems can be solved. But that doesn’t mean ignoring reality to get there.
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645