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.