Peres Defends Oslo Accords

YERUSHALAYIM -

President Shimon Peres defended the Oslo Accords on Monday, arguing that without them there would be only one Palestinian camp — a camp of terror. Because of the accords, he says, there is a Palestinian peace camp.

Peres answered critics of Oslo in an interview with The Jerusalem Post in which said he had no regrets, despite the waves of terror that it precipitated and a failure to produce a peace agreement in the long term.

If he does have any regrets, they predate Oslo, he explained. As Foreign Minister, Peres entered into a secret agreement with Jordan’s King Hussein. The agreement — signed in London on April 11, 1987, in the presence of Jordanian Prime Minister Zaid al-Rifai and Yossi Beilin, who was then Director-General of the Foreign Ministry — set forth a framework for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 224 and 338.

The details were to be worked out at a U.N.-hosted conference, with the understanding that no solution would be be imposed on Israel and the Palestinians by outside parties. It also called for the renunciation of terrorism and violence.

But then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir cast a critical eye over the terms of the agreement and decided to shelve it.

Peres sees it as a missed opportunity. Israel and the Palestinians would be focusing more on science and other areas of education and developing their respective economies, Peres believes.

Peres remains the most prominent and one of the most ardent proponents of the two-state solution, a true believer that Mahmoud Abbas is a willing partner in peace, despite  widespread doubt that he could or would reconcile with Israel.

He thinks that now that both sides have agreed to a two-state solution, the nations of the world should be saying to the Palestinians, “You agreed to a two-state solution; why aren’t you implementing it?” Israel has already said repeatedly that it is willing to negotiate, but the Palestinians keep setting preconditions and finding pretexts for prolonging the impasse.