What most distressed veteran US diplomat Madaline Albright on her maiden sojourn Secretary of State to the Middle East was the depth of the crisis of confidence that now exists between Israelis and Palestinians.

The current dynamics of the Oslo peace process are such that if you light a match, you might kindle a tinderbox that will devour any of the deteriorating relationship that remains between the state of Israel and the new Palestine Authority.

The trust that had been fostered over four years of the intensely negotiated Oslo Middle East Peace Process between Israel and Yassir Arafat had essentially ground to a halt on August 20, 1997, the day that Arafat’s Palestine Authority announced a formal working alliance. The Hamas bombings in Jerusalem’s crowded Machane Yehudah marketplace on July 30 and on Jerusalem’s crowded Ben Yehudah mall on Sept 4 and Arafat’s refusal to take any action against Hamas signaled that this was a new turn in the peace process that few had expected.

On Monday, September 15, 1997, Israel prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu dispatched an Israeli intelligence official to testify before the Israel Knesset Intelligence Committee that Arafat had not taken any concrete steps to dismantle the Hamas terror infrastructure. The official added that the Israeli public should brace itself for more Hamas terror attacks, which are to be expected imminently, adding that Arafat must immediately do what he is supposed to do – to dismantle terror operatives before they go into action. However, he added, Israel held no illusions that Arafat would do so.

All week long, the Israel’s Defence Forces went on high alert, sending Israeli intelligence units to conduct a massive preventive surveillance operation to stop terror groups that may infliltrate any part of Israel at any minute. The operation bore fruit, when the IDF announced on Friday, the apprehension of a terror group en route to kill the Mayor of Jerusalem.

On the very night that the IDF began its massive sweep to seek out and prevent new Hamas terror operations in Jerusalem, several Israeli families made it a point to establish their first small community on Ras El Amud.

What upset Netanyahu about Ras El Amud was its timing, not its substance. The issue of confidence building measures has also fallen victim to the crisis of the current Middle East crisis.

Jerusalem had always been a subject that would be the final stage of negotiations. A gentleman’s agreement had it that Israel would take no more unilateral motives. In the current stage of the Oslo process, gentleman’s agreements are off.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.