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Saturday, September 8, 2018
Weekly Commentary: Oslo - Avarice, Hubris, Secular Messianism

Weekly Commentary: Oslo - Avarice, Hubris, Secular Messianism
Dr. Aaron Lerner 8 September, 2018

As we mark 25 years to Oslo it is useful to recall three key drivers behind
what became known as the Oslo Process: Avarice, Hubris and Secular
Messianism.

Avarice:

First and foremost the establishment of a Palestinian autonomy was an
opportunity to make money. Besides the assignment of monopolies (for example
gasoline supplies) there was development money as well as other economic
activity.

Ministers and MKs in Prime Minister Rabin's ruling coalition, as well as MKs
considering crossing the floor, saw themselves either receiving
"consideration" for helping others get a piece of the action or as silent
partners.

There were also security officials who took a key role in negotiations with
the Palestinians who split their time with their Palestinian colleagues
between hammering out security details and discussing joint ventures in
anticipation of their retirements.

The "peace business" also became a source of easy money for academics and
others engaged in promoting support the Oslo Process.

All of this served to taint their judgment.

Hubris:

The Oslo Process was driven by the working assumption that regardless of the
lines drawn or the conditions set, the IDF could always come up with
"appropriate security arrangements".

There was a darker side to this hubris. One frequently heard from
"realistic" Oslo Process supporters that they expected Oslo to fail, but
that the failure would be so profound that it would lead to a conflict
during which Israel would have the moral justification, and the means, to
kick the the Arabs out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Secular Messianism:

There were also hardore Oslo Process supporters genuinely believed that once
Israel would withdraw to the '67 lines that some kind of utopian peace would
prevail. Post-withdrawal security concerns were thus not truly relevant but
instead documents only for the record. A necessary nuisance to placate the
nonbelievers.

Besides the above, perhaps the one of the biggest problems with the Oslo
Process was the typical Israeli shallowness.

Most ministers, MKs, talking heads and journalists who could jabber for days
about Oslo consistently declined to invest the time to read any of the
series of documents created by the process.

It distresses me to write that over the course of the last quarter century I
talked with many Palestinian officials who could "chapter and verse" the
various agreements while their Israeli counterparts were clueless of the
details of what they themselves voted to approve.

In many respects, Palestinian impatience saved us.

A few years without terror would have easily facilitated the establishment
of a sovereign Palestinian state that by now could have served as a
strategic bridgehead in a multi-front conflict to destroy us.
________________________________________
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Arab-Israeli relations

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