As the world reminisces about the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Peace Process, an exploration into the less-talked-about aspects of the initiative reveals a story that diverges from conventional narratives.
Three decades ago, on September 13, 1993, the White House witnessed a historic moment as Israel and the PLO signed the “Declaration of Principles” (DOP) in the presence of US and Russian officials. This landmark agreement, meticulously crafted in Oslo, sought to establish mutual recognition between the two parties, while requiring the PLO to renounce terrorism and nullify its call for Israel’s destruction.
A week later, the Israeli Knesset approved the accord with a vote of 61 to 50, with 9 abstentions. However, what remains largely obscured from public awareness is the subsequent failure of the PLO Fatah executive to ratify the Oslo agreement on October 6, 1993. This lack of ratification was initially reported by Pinchas Inbari, an Israeli correspondent based in Tunis, who wrote for the left-wing newspaper Al HaMishmar.
The media’s response to this revelation was a stark contrast. The Israeli government and compliant media chose to disregard the PLO’s non-ratification, preferring to believe in the potential for genuine peace. The narrative took shape, painting a picture of hope and reconciliation while overlooking a significant failure.
This incident foreshadowed the years to come. Dr. Michael Widlanski’s meticulous investigation exposed the duplicity of Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA). In 2002, nearly half a million documents were seized from the Orient House, the quasi-official seat of the PA in Jerusalem. These documents portrayed Arafat’s day-to-day control over the Palestinian authority’s military operations, contrary to the common belief that he was influenced by terror organizations.
Widlanski’s findings highlighted Arafat’s direct involvement in Fatah’s tanzeem militia and other terror-related activities. The documents even illustrated the process by which Arafat’s proxies requested his approval for expenditures related to terror operations and other illicit activities.
The documents that could have unveiled Arafat’s true intentions, which included involvement in organized crime and illicit dealings, were stored in a police warehouse in Beit Shemesh. A request for private funding to translate these documents was made, but the decision to keep them from public scrutiny was eventually made. When questioned, the reasoning behind this choice was marked as classified by Tzachi HaNegbi, who today leads the Israel National Security Council.
In the midst of all this, a flood at the Israel Police headquarters in Beit Shemesh resulted in the destruction of these revealing documents. The Israeli government’s commitment to portraying Arafat as a harbinger of peace overshadowed this loss, further shaping a narrative that diverged from reality.
In the annals of history, Pinchas Inbari remains one of the few who remember and bring to light the untold story. As a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, he continues to emphasize the overlooked aspect of the Oslo Accords.
In the shadow of nostalgia, it is essential to reevaluate history, considering the unratified accord that shattered the initial hopes of a lasting peace. The PLO-Israel Peace Process, often celebrated for its potential, was marred by the stark reality that it lasted less than three weeks.