Friday October 31, 2014
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31.10.2014
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MK Zeev Elkin

Israelis have sobered up

The signing of the Oslo Accords -- which took place exactly two decades ago -- was truly significant, and some see it fit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event. For example, representatives of Palestinian Authority donor states held a special gathering at the U.N. to mark the anniversary and one of the architects of the Oslo Accords even made sure to publish a book that provides a behind the scenes look at the signing of the agreement. However, this is actually the right time to look back honestly and ask: Is there reason to celebrate?

The Oslo Accords transformed our lives beyond recognition and enabled the founding of the Palestinian Authority, with Fatah at its helm. Fatah was led by Yasser Arafat and other officials who were responsible for many attacks against Israel. The Oslo Accords also played a key role in transforming the two-state theory and the establishment of a Palestinian state from the horrible vision of a handful of radical leftists to an outlook that now dominates Israeli and international discourse (even though the signers of the Oslo Accords explicitly stated at the time that this was not their goal).

We must ask ourselves whether the Oslo Accords moved Israel forward, not only in terms of theoretical political discourse and debate among newspaper columnists, but also regarding the most basic parameters that are of interest to all Israeli citizens. What interests Israeli citizens are not the Nobel Peace prizes that were awarded after the signing of the Oslo Accords, but rather the level of security over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, the answer is very clear: Of around 1,800 Israelis killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks during Israel's 65 years of existence, about 1,200 were killed since the signing of the Oslo Accords. These figures speak for themselves and no further analysis of the feelings of the average Israeli citizen is needed. Those who might claim that these casualties were the result of past problems -- "victims of peace," they say -- must ponder whether they truly believe there is a shiny and rosy future ahead of us on the path to peace and security.

All it takes is a visit to a southern Israeli city, like Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, or, of course, Sderot, to understand, after short conversations, that residents feel much less secure now than 20 years ago. Back then, if someone told these people that Palestinian rockets from the Gaza Strip would someday land on their homes and schools, they would have thought that person was delusional. Unfortunately, however, such rocket fire has now become routine. So a vast majority of Israeli citizens have sobered up from false dreams of a new Middle East and the naive concept that far-reaching concessions for immediate peace would bring about more security.

In the last election, only 10 percent of Israelis voted for parties that ran under the exclusive banner of peace at any price (Meretz and Hatnuah, which together received 12 Knesset seats). The Israeli public has sobered up, and those in the world (and in certain circles in Israel) who are celebrating the anniversary of the Oslo Accords should take note of this and think twice. Instead of partying, perhaps it's time for soul-searching.

Zeev Elkin is a Likud MK and deputy foreign minister.

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