It's a shame the Labor Party opposes the initiative from the right wing, led by MK Uri Ariel, to investigate what the right refers to as "the Oslo crimes." Such an inquiry could, for example, find out why, nine years after they promised Israel would leave Gaza, people who signed the agreement belong to the government that endangers the lives of soldiers and allocates hundreds of millions from an empty treasury to protect a thousand Jewish families in the Gaza Strip.
It would be interesting to hear how Shimon Peres explains the Rabin government decision to shelve a plan raised in 1994 to evacuate Netzarim. It would be possible to find out why the government, instead of evicting the radical settlers in Hebron after the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, chose instead to throw out the Palestinian vendors from the wholesale market. It would be an opportunity to ask Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Elizer, who also was a member of the Oslo government, why he has not yet thrown Goldstein's friends out of the shops they took over once the Palestinians were thrown out of the market.
Oslo investigators would easily discover that the main flaw in the agreements and all the agreements that followed was the fear of those who now demand "putting the Oslo criminals on trial." The facts created since then in the territories out of concern for their security, their well-being, their swimming pools, and for the benefit of Uri Ariel and his pals are much more powerful declarations than hollow promises of "painful concessions."
From the Palestinian perspective, Abu Mazen and Abu Ala are the Oslo criminals, who lent a hand in September 1993 to an agreement that quietly legitimized the continuing land expropriations in the territories. The Oslo agreement and all those that followed do not include any article to prevent Israel from doubling the number of settlers since they were signed. Oslo II only says neither side will initiate or undertake any steps that could change the status of the West Bank and Gaza before the final-status agreements are finalized. Therefore, neither Shimon Peres nor George Bush have any formal reason to demand Sharon freeze the settlements. On the other hand, the agreements require the Palestinian Authority to protect the settlers who are taking over Palestinian lands. In that case, there is no difference between those sent by the government of Israel and those who trespass as the government turns a blind eye to their bullying.
Presumably, an Oslo inquiry would point to the essential failure in the strategic concept behind Oslo - the decision to leave the most extreme settlers alongside Islamic fanatics, for a five-year probationary period, which was the opening shot of an insane shepherds' war over territory. The investigators would find out that Arafat's decision to cooperate with Israel against terrorism did nothing to improve the Palestinian lot. They'll find newspaper archives full of praise that the head of the Shin Bet and the head of the CIA handed out to the Palestinian security service since 1999. Even the prime minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced he had thanked Arafat for his forces' contribution to foiling a major Hamas attack.
Netanyahu likes to claim that during his term in office there was a dramatic drop in the number of terror attacks. A beginning investigator would indeed find that since the September 1996 Hasmonean Tunnel riots, in the early days of Netanyahu's administration, he enjoyed relative quiet. And what did the Palestinians get? More expropriations, settlements and Jewish-only roads. Ehud Barak, who is considered by many settlers to be the off-spring of the Oslo criminals, has to his credit more building starts in a year than Netanyahu. He explained they were decoys that would soon be removed. One does not need to be a paranoid Palestinian to wonder who would invest hundreds of millions in settlements and roads for decoys.
There's no need for a commission of inquiry to determine that nothing - including illegal settlements - justifies murdering helpless civilians. On the other hand, it would be interesting to find out from MK Ariel and his friends how they would behave if they discovered Arab "Oslo criminals" settling in their gardens.
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