Oslo aim of separating Israel and the Palestinians has failed, Knesset speaker says

Oslo aim of separating Israel and the Palestinians has failed, Knesset speaker says

Reuven Rivlin’s remarks on 17th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination draw heavy criticism from the political left

President-elect Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
President-elect Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Oslo peace accords have failed to lead to a long-term diplomatic solution and should be replaced with a new plan to reach the two-state solution, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during a memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin Sunday.

The remarks drew heavy fire from politicians on the left-wing on the day marking 17 years since the assassination of the premier who signed the Oslo Accords.

“I disagreed with Rabin then, and I still disagree with him today,” Rivlin said in a speech at a special session of the Knesset to mark the anniversary. “I believe the concept of Oslo is fundamentally erroneous and is not applicable in the area between Jordan and the sea. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the idea of separation between the two peoples failed, as it attempted to deny the reality of our life here.”

The first Oslo accord, signed in Washington on September 13, 1993, by Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, established the Palestinian Authority over part of the West Bank.

The agreement gave the Palestinians administrative and military control over certain parts of the territory, and was seen as a stepping stone toward a peace agreement and a two-state solution. The agreement was meant to last for a five-year period, by which point a final-status negotiation was to be concluded.

However, the peace process largely stalled after that, stymied among other factors by ongoing Palestinian terrorism, the assassination of Rabin, the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, and the onset of the second intifada in 2000. Despite several stops and starts over the last two decades, negotiations between the two sides are currently frozen.

Rivlin’s remarks, in which he called the division of the land a greater danger than a binational state, drew heavy criticism from Knesset members on the left, several of whom heckled Rivlin during the speech.

“The things you said are taking us back to a deep rift that no longer exists,” Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich said. “Almost the entirety of the Israeli public does not support your position. Who wants to live in a binational state?”

Yachimovich also mentioned the bitter criticism Rabin drew from the political right, notably from Netanyahu, saying that “some of those who speak today about governance and requiring more power to control, did not let the Rabin government proceed with its job and presented it as illegitimate.”

Meretz head Zahava Gal-on responded, saying that Rivlin was speaking about a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a vision Rabin did not share. “Rabin realized that the only way to maintain a democratic Israel is to end the conflict and reach a settlement with the Palestinians,” she said.

Kadima MK Shlomo Molla said Rivlin disgraced Rabin by using the podium to promote a political agenda.

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