Last week, the Jewish state commemorated the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, who served in that position from 1974 to 1977 and then from 1992 to 1995. On the Israeli left, and perhaps even more so on the American Jewish left, a persistent myth remains that, had he not been murdered, the Oslo peace process that he began would have somehow succeeded. On the right, many blame him for embarking on this course in the first place, ushering in years of terror and bloodshed. Efraim Inbar rejects both views:
Only very few [Israelis] deny the fact that overall, the Oslo process was a failure because the Palestinian national movement was not (and still is not) ready for historic compromise with the Zionist movement. There is evidence that Rabin came to this realization as well, before he was assassinated. Rabin was skeptical of the Oslo process from the start, and he projected growing ambivalence. He was considering calling an end to the process.
A close look at Rabin’s core diplomatic and defense views, above and beyond Oslo, does the late prime minister more justice. It is worth remembering that the centrality of Israeli national security in his worldview never wavered.
Rabin was ready for partition of the West Bank, which was the classic Zionist position, but he insisted on defensible borders for Israel. He never entertained a return to the 1967 borders or any territorial swaps. . . . Israel’s defensible eastern border was to be the Jordan Valley (“in the widest sense”). The areas around a united Jerusalem were to be included in Israel. . . . These formulations were (and remain) in sync with the Israeli consensus.
Rabin also believed that Israel would have to live by its sword for many years. Therefore, he insisted that large defense outlays were mandatory even after the signing of peace treaties. According to Rabin, Israeli military power was a necessary condition in guaranteeing the preservation of treaties with neighbors in a turbulent Middle East. This view is still very relevant nowadays.
Read more on Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security: https://jiss.org.il/en/inbar-rabins-true-legacy/