Reprinted from Ha'aretz 6 November 2000

Oslo Was Mere Child's Play

By Nadav Shragai

Oslo supporters ignore devastating results and disaster that would have
been worse if Camp David had been implemented.

The Israeli memory is short, maybe shorter than any other nation on earth. However, the stubborn determination of Prime Minister Ehud Barak and some of his cabinet ministers in sticking to the "Camp David understandings" as a basis for negotiating with the Palestinians, even after the events of the previous month, seems to indicate more than just poor memory. At Camp David, Barak was willing to pay the price of humiliation for the sake of peace between the Palestinians and the Israel. Yet, in the end, all he ended up with was humiliation and war.

The great Jewish thinker Ahad Ha'am once commented: "A mistake that turns out to be a success is still a mistake." This statement is even more true if the mistake turns out to be a mistake. The obstacle course known as the "Oslo process" that has proved to be an empty shell, was only the road to hell (even if the road was paved with good intentions). The hell that we were almost led into, only a few months ago, was the "Camp David understandings," which Barak, even today (incredible as it seems), is finding so difficult to abandon.

In the last month, one third of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - territory designated Area A - was a base for attacks, for terrorism, for gunfire and for other forms of combat directed against Israel. Over the past few weeks, dozens of Palestinian terrorists with huge quantities of Jewish blood on their hands were set free into this very territory. Furthermore, the "industry" of Palestinian terrorism and bomb-making has been renewed over the last few weeks in this territory, from which extremely powerful explosive devices and human time bombs were sent into Israel during the so-called Oslo years.

At Camp David, an irresponsible Israeli prime minister proposed that Israel would increase by 100 or even 200 percent the extent of territories under Palestinian jurisdiction. At Camp David, the Palestinians were nearly granted the potential - which they do not hesitate to use - to increase terrorist attacks and shootings against Israeli targets by 100 or even 200 percent.

If, during the past few weeks, the Palestinians fired no shots at Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood, the only reason was that they thought that Beit Iksa, which is adjacent to Ramot and which was proposed to them, is not worth the trouble. The Palestinians also did not fire at another Jerusalem neighborhood, Pisgat Ze'ev. Massive pressure exerted on Barak prevented him, five months ago, from handing over to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat the adjacent community of Anata. At Camp David, Arafat replied "This is not enough" to the offer of the two communities of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, which are adjacent to Pisgat Ze'ev.

The prime minister did not manage to hand over to the Palestinians Abu Dis and Al-Azariya. As Barak has said, "Jews have never prayed to return to these during their two thousand years of exile." Thus, shots were not fired at Jews who attended the funerals of loved ones under a hail of rocks at the Mount of Olives cemetery.

At Camp David, reference was made to the establishment of a Palestinian Civil Guard and to Palestinian community policing in the Old City of Jerusalem, but, at the very last moment, we were spared the "exalting" sight of Palestinian police officers firing on Israelis from atop the walls of the Old City.

Only a few weeks ago, Barak transferred the Temple Mount to the jurisdiction of Palestinian General Intelligence Services chief Tawfik Tirawi and Palestinian security personnel for a few hours. The Temple Mount became a conflagration. The plaza before the Western Wall was cleared of its Jewish worshipers. Israeli police officers were wounded and many Israeli Jews felt that they had reached the very depths of humiliation. At Camp David, such an arrangement came very close to becoming institutionalized.

Jerusalem's Jewish residents have drunk only a small portion of the poisoned drink prepared at Oslo. Life in Jerusalem has been drastically transformed - shots fired at Gilo; a municipal economic crisis; Atarot industrial zone on the point of collapse; rerouted bus lines, and in some cases a total suspension of service on certain bus routes; shooting incidents and explosive devices in the Rehavia quarter and in the Mahaneh Yehuda open-stall marketplace. Marketplaces and holy sites in Jerusalem have become deserted zones. Every evening helicopters are in the air and the sounds of explosions on the ground sharply disrupt the peace and tranquillity of the city's residents.

This is the "Oslo way." This is the multi-staged process, the Hudaybiyah procedure, as Arafat and his followers have themselves termed the "Oslo way." However, in contrast to the "Camp David understandings," which Israelis were spared at the last possible moment, the "Oslo way" is mere child's play.

Had the "Camp David understandings" been implemented and had the Palestinian community of Jabal Mukkaber (which is situated opposite the Jewish neighborhood of East Talpiot), Sur Baher (situated opposite the kibbutz of Ramat Rachel), and Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah (situated opposite the Israeli government compound in East Jerusalem and opposite the neighborhood of Musrara) been transferred to the hands of someone - whom Barak and Regional Development Minister Shimon Peres still stubbornly refuse to call an enemy - the bloody clashes and the destruction in Jerusalem would have been on a much greater scale.

Recent events have amply demonstrated that former science minister Benny Begin, who has often been depicted as a prophet of utter pessimism was, after all, merely a realist.

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