By Failing to Hold Palestinian Leaders to Account, Israel Contributed to the Failures of Oslo

Since the Clinton administration’s attempts to negotiate a final settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict ended with the second intifada in 2000, various revisionist accounts have tried to place the blame on Jerusalem. Maurice Hirsch, looking back on the period that began with the Oslo Accords in 1993, argues that the Israeli government indeed shares some of the responsibility—but not in the way its critics normally assume:

While the agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) focused on what territorial control, powers, responsibilities, and jurisdiction the Israeli side would give the Palestinians, they also included reciprocal Palestinian commitments. Primary among these commitments was the total abandonment of the use of terrorism to advance their political agenda. Israeli authorities—instead of insisting that the PLO, the Palestinian Authority (the body created by the agreements), and their respective leaders fulfill their agreed-upon commitments—adopted an approach of willful paralysis.

First and foremost, the PLO committed to erasing all the different expressions that called for Israel’s destruction from its Covenant. The PLO further committed to using the newly created PA body as a vehicle for peace, preventing incitement to hatred and violence, and combating terror.

Time after time, the Israeli authorities watched as the PLO/PA ignored its commitments and engaged in practices, and adopted policies, fundamentally contradictory to the agreements. While Israel voiced concern over these breaches of the agreements, no practical steps were taken on the ground to remedy the situation. Even when Israel responded to the Palestinian beaches by temporarily delaying the implementation of the agreements, these moves were short-lived. As time moved on and the PLO/PA breaches of the agreements became more egregious, the Israeli approach of appeasement became more entrenched.

Far from inspiring or forcing Palestinian compliance, Israel’s behavior created the perception, and to a great extent, reality, that it was no longer genuinely insistent on the Palestinians ever living up to their commitments.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Oslo Accords, Second Intifada


Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden