September 13, 1993: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, while President Bill Clinton looks on, at the signing of the Oslo Accord. (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)
September 13, 1993. Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the lawn of the White House. They have just officially signed the document that was supposed to start Peace: the Oslo Accord. The cogs of this machine began their work.
Overnight, Yasser Arafat was no longer the leader of a defeated terrorist organization. He had suddenly become the President of a quasi-state; his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had been transformed into the "Palestinian Authority".
Terror attacks against Israelis attacks during this "peace" grew even more bloody and more profuse, and soon were being perpetrated at a frantic pace. Some deliberately targeted children and youths, such as the Dolphinarium discotheque massacre and the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing. Arafat condemned none of them.
In September 2000, the Palestinian Authority launched a full scale guerrilla war that lasted four years and killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
It soon became clear that Arafat was not going to give up being a mass murderer. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was no better. Murders of Jews did not stop. Israel finally decided to build a security barrier. Palestinian leaders continued untiringly to make demands that no country could satisfy without committing suicide. These included retreating to indefensible 1949 armistice lines and allowing into Israel millions of people sworn to the Jews' destruction:
While it is true that Hamas is expert at getting innocent Palestinians killed, it has made it very plain, in word and deed, that it would rather kill Jews. The following blood-freezing statement is from the group's charter: "The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The day of judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say 'O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
This is a frank and open call for genocide, embedded in one of the most thoroughly anti-Semitic documents you'll read this side of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not many people seem to know that Hamas's founding document is genocidal.
Israel, meanwhile, was constantly summoned to negotiate and make ever more concessions.
And make concessions it did. In 2005, Israel forcibly and unconditionally evacuated every last Jew from the entire Gaza Strip -- a move that resulted in Hamas swiftly seizing power there. Israel also offered, in a plan proposed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, to abandon the eastern half of Jerusalem, and almost totally to withdraw from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley -- a move that led to the breakdown of negotiations by the Palestinian side. Even so, Israel continued to be defined internationally as the guilty party.
Although the Palestinian Authority never hid that it was still the same old genocidal PLO, it steadily gained widespread recognition: many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and even the Holy See, recognize a "Palestinian state" that simply does not exist. "Palestine" obtained a seat at the UNESCO, was granted a Permanent Observer status at the United Nations.
Despite the fact that a large part of the foreign subsidies given to the Palestinian Authority were being used to reward terrorism and finance incitement to anti-Jewish hatred, foreign subsidies increased.
Palestinian propaganda gained ground internationally, and even in Israel. A growing number of Israeli Arabs became radicalized; some committed attacks.
Extremist organizations that had been established in Israel, but financed from abroad in the name of "peace," showed their true colors as openly hostile to the existence of Israel. The recent passing of a law that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and stipulates what has been in evidence since the founding of Israel in 1948 (the Declaration of Independence does not exclude anyone and speaks of the "development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants"; it also explicitly speaks of the "natural right of the Jewish people to be, like all other nations, master of their destiny on the soil of their own sovereign state") led some of these organizations to try to provoke anti-Israel anger among the Druze minority and to organize protests in Tel Aviv.
Twenty-five years after Oslo, the balance sheet is more like what, in 2003, the historian Efraim Karsh, commenting on the Rabin-Arafat handshake, called the start the "Oslo war". In this war, he wrote, Israel had conceded from the beginning a major victory to its worst enemies by giving them a respectability they did not deserve, and thus placed itself in a losing position from which it never fully recovered. In a comprehensive study published in 2016, he reasserted his analysis and said that the 1993 handshake and the document signed then had been the "starkest strategic blunder in Israel's history".
In January 2017, the historian Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, explained in detail the urgent need of a deep change in Israel's behavior before it would be too late. The Palestinian population, he stressed, is imbued with a "genocidal obsession towards Israel." He emphasized that:
"Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not 'make [peace] with very unsavory enemies' but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated...
"...Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume."
In 2003, Joel Fishman, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, wrote that, before any further action concerning the Palestinian issue, the Israeli government would have to stop treating the Palestinian Authority (PA) as what it is not and start treating it as what it is and has never ceased to be: a terrorist organization – and one that should be treated as such. The U.S. and Israeli governments are now going in that direction. On March 6, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Abbas must "stop paying terrorists to murder Jews". The statement not only amounted to designating Abbas as a terrorist leader; it also reminded the public that money incentivizes murder. A few weeks ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted that Abbas "pays NIS 100 million ($27 million) in salaries to terrorists and murderers" and added "a clear message: No more".
Those who support the Palestinian Authority are supporting terrorism. One can only conclude that in doing so, they have shown themselves as enemies of Israel. Saying that to some governments might be unpopular, but less so non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGO Monitor was founded in 2002 to counter organizations that use the appearance of "defending human rights" to support often harmful goals. In July 2016, the Knesset passed a law demanding that NGOs receiving more than half of their funding from abroad indicate it in their financial reports and disclose the fact in advertising and publicity, and while lobbying officials. How would you like it if more than half of the funding to shape the policies of your country were coming, undisclosed, from openly hostile nations?
Another task that needs urgent attention is exposing, refuting and rejecting the falsifications of history that the PA and its supporters proliferate. The Israeli government's decision to withdraw from the UNESCO after a vote that falsely denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem's Temple Mount and Western Wall was essential and overdue. When Prime Minister Netanyahu refers to the West Bank, he speaks only of Judea and Samaria, states that Judea is named precisely for the Jews' presence there thousands of years ago, and explains that expelling Jews from Judea and Samaria should be called by its name: ethnic cleansing.
In a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism."
The same fact was reconfirmed in a video posted by the invaluable resource MEMRI: a Hamas minister of the interior in 2012 states that Palestinians are "just Saudis and Egyptians."
For eight years, the Obama administration took positions to undermine Israel. Those policies culminated with the December 23, 2016 decision not to veto a UN resolution that demanded the return of Israel to "1967 borders", in reality not borders at all but just an armistice line. The policies also defined "East Jerusalem" and the Old City as "occupied Palestinian territory". President Trump on the other hand recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 and by those moves took Jerusalem off the negotiating table. Guatemala helpfully followed by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, too. When President Trump asked Palestinian leaders to stop paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and to the families of dead terrorists, and the Palestinians refused, he cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.
President Trump's administration also regarded extending "refugee" status to millions of descendants of the approximately 500,000 original Arab refugees as unjustifiable. According to a classified State Department document, only 30,000 of the original refugees remain today. So the president cut all outstanding funding, roughly $300 million, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). He added that UNRWA had been "vulnerable to misappropriation and corruption" and that it aggravated the problem instead of contributing to solving it. On September 9, he also decided to freeze $25 million in funding to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem for refusing to participate in peace efforts, and on September 10, he decided to close the Palestinian delegation's office in Washington D.C.
The Sunni Arab regimes know that Israel could be their greatest ally against the Iranian threat in the region. Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, said in New York in April that Palestinians will have to "accept the proposals made by the Trump administration or keep quiet". On August 12, Walid Sadi, a former Jordanian diplomat, wrote in the Jordan Times (a newspaper that depends directly on the kingdom's government) that the Palestinian Authority must "resign itself to an imperfect solution". The statement should lead one to reflect on what, in the Palestinian Authority's view, the perfect solution would be.
Israel has always been facing the unrelenting hostility of the European Union, France and Germany, which today are among the most ardent supporters of the corrupted "Palestinian cause". The Israeli government knows it has nothing to expect from them, except being undermined. In July 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, after making openly anti-Semitic remarks in the European Parliament, received a standing ovation. In July 2017, Emmanuel Macron kissed Abbas and with a straight face thanked him for his "tireless work in favor of non-violence". In April 2018, Hams leader Ismail Haniyeh was on the cover of one of the main French news magazines, Paris Match, and that several pages of the magazine were dedicated to a hagiography of a man who can only be described as an anti-Semitic murderer. In April 2017, while on a diplomatic trip to Israel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with groups that slander Israeli soldiers as "war criminals". The European Union, France and Germany will apparently not stop funding the Palestinian Authority and dozens of radical anti-Israel organizations, and are doing everything they can to save the "Iranian nuclear deal" and the mullahs' regime.
The number of Israelis who think that a peace agreement is possible is dwindling. The number of Israelis who think that no additional concessions should be made is growing. The number of Palestinian Arabs supporting terrorist attacks is also growing.
In a recent survey ranking countries on the basis of their alliances, influence and leadership, Israel, despite its small size, was ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world.
Hamas, a crumbling terrorist entity, has been trying to make the brutally governed population of the Gaza strip into a horde of bloodthirsty fanatics. The Palestinian Authority is a corruption-ridden autocracy that survives only thanks to massive aid, mostly from the gullible West – a bribe that not only has failed to work, but, as in most extortion, has only led to further demands for more money with no noticeable change in behavior.
It is has been truly tragic that the people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been held hostage for so long by Palestinians leaders who feed them on a dream, impede their progress and lead them to incite against Israel to seek its destruction.
In February 2017, US Ambassador John Bolton, now President Trump's National Security Advisor, said he did not see any viable institutions on the "Palestinian" side and added that he thought the best option could be a "three-state solution", whereby Gaza would join Egypt, and a part of the West Bank would join Jordan. The Israeli government did not disagree.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.