The Intelligence Failure behind the Oslo Accords

With the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War—last Monday on the Jewish calendar, and next week on the Gregorian—Israelis are revisiting the inability of their intelligence agencies to predict an Arab attack. Ze’ev Begin and Yigal Carmon, meanwhile, focus on a different anniversary, and a different lapse. Why they ask, didn’t security officials see the evidence that Yasir Arafat had no intention of ending his conflict with the Jewish state following the signing of the Oslo Accords—despite the fact that he said so publicly on numerous occasions?

At the time, the majority of the Israeli public were in favor of the peace offered by the Oslo Accords, and Israel’s intelligence analysts were not immune to the spirit of the times. . . . Julius Caesar noted that “men are quick to believe that which they wish to be true,” thereby removing certain defense mechanisms. . . . The public discourse about the speeches by Arafat and other top PLO officials was limited, since raising doubts about Arafat’s true intentions was considered to be undermining the great ideal of peace that was supposedly being realized.

Indeed, the misinterpretation of Arafat’s actions and their significance was reinforced socially. Those who publicly raised the issue of the PLO leadership’s incitement against Israel were accused of being motivated only by their political disposition. In addition, a false symmetry emerged in the eyes of the Israeli public between the Israeli side and the Palestinian side: Israeli opponents of Oslo were considered opponents of peace, and the Israeli government a pursuer of peace; therefore, since Hamas was an opponent of peace, it must be that the PLO was also a pursuer of peace, like the Israeli government.

For a long time, . . . as evidence was piling up that Arafat and his group were grossly violating the Accords, the Israeli public was willing to accept the bizarre explanation that these violations were in fact necessary for the sake of peace: Israel signed an agreement with Arafat; in order to implement the agreement Arafat must politically survive among his people; to survive, he must violate the agreements [with anti-Israel incitement and the like]. In other words, the agreement between Israel and the PLO could only be implemented by being violated.

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Intelligence, Oslo Accords, Yasir Arafat

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security