Between September 11th and 13th

This column is being written between the third anniversary of the terror attack on the United States and the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo accords on the White House lawn.

This column is being written between the third anniversary of the terror attack on the United States and the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo accords on the White House lawn. America marked the deaths of more than 2,700 people in memorial ceremonies and election rallies of the Republican Party. The historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinians did not even merit a public symposium.

Figures on the right have grown tired of throwing up the 1,000 victims of terror in the faces of the "Oslo criminals." Faded bumper stickers have given way to slogans deriding Ariel Sharon and the disengagement plan. Meanwhile, Shimon Peres, the "architect of Oslo," is waiting for a phone call from the prime minister, in order to complete the closing down of his diplomatic life's work. Unilateral steps such as withdrawal and the separation fence have taken the place of dialogue and agreements. Together with the political camp that initiated Oslo, the "peace camp" has tossed the important agreement into the trash heap of history.

Generally, the balance sheet that is used to judge Oslo focuses on the issue of security. Yes, Yasser Arafat did not make good on his commitments to Yitzhak Rabin, who, whatever you want say about him, would not let violence rear its ugly head. It can be assumed that if the Palestinian Authority had taken a stronger stand against the zealots (as it at times did), many of the Israeli victims of terror would be celebrating Rosh Hashanah this year with their loved ones. Yet no one knows the number of victims there would have been if, rather than Oslo, the diplomatic stalemate that characterized the preceding 26 years had continued. Israeli citizens were murdered before the "Oslo criminals gave them rifles."

They continue to die still, four years after Oslo died a severe death, and Israel Defense Forces soldiers are ordered to shoot any Palestinian carrying a gun.

The disengagement plan was intended to put an end to any agreement on the West Bank and East Jerusalem that might be acceptable to moderates among the Palestinians. It has been proven that the absence of hope for a diplomatic arrangement does not reduce the motivation of the Palestinians to kill Israelis, but in fact intensifies it. The security establishment has succeeded in foiling dozens of terrorist attacks and liquidating dozens of wanted men.

Nevertheless, according to a former high-ranking Shin Bet official, the wider the gap between motivation and capability, the more dangerous and lunatic the terror becomes. Even advocates of disengagement are not promising that in its aftermath Israelis will be safer in the West Bank or in Be'er Sheva.

The second type of accounting vis-a-vis Oslo is diplomatic in nature - granting international legitimacy to that villain Arafat and to the corrupt Tunis gang, which has never ceased to strive for the elimination of Israel. An important document whose contents are delineated in a new book, "The Truth about Camp David," by the American researcher Clayton E. Swisher, casts additional doubt on the conspiracy theory that was cultivated with extreme success in Israel and all over the world. The book provides details on the document that Arafat sent to Bill Clinton in December 2000, in response to the outline that the president presented to the two sides at that time.

The document indicates that Arafat sought legitimate clarifications regarding such weighty matters as the mechanism of compensation to refugees, the extent of the land that Israel wished to lease, and the demarcation of the territory of the Western Wall that would remain under Israeli sovereignty. The chairman of the Palestinian Authority proposed a visit to the White House at any time, in order to continue discussion of these subjects.

The author quotes the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Dr. Saeb Erekat, who told him that he once asked Clinton why he chose to place blame for the failure at Arafat's doorstep. Erekat claims that Clinton said he had done so at the request of Ehud Barak, who explained that if he hadn't done so, he would lose the support of the Israeli left.

The Clinton outline was the first agreed-upon formula for a permanent settlement, and to this remains the accepted solution for the conflict. It happened after Oslo and in spite of the numerous hiccups along the way. Like the peace treaty with Jordan, and like the Saudi Arabian peace initiative, it would not have happened without that God-forsaken ceremony that took place on September 13, 1993.