'We were incredibly stupid'only out in Hebrew, Shlomo Avineri, an icon of the Israeli Left (no, that's not him in the picture - it's our main Leftist dufus), tells readers, "We were incredibly stupid.... We thought they wanted a state, and a two-state solution, but it turns out that they want to destroy Israel, because they cannot/will not accept any form of Jewish national self-determination." As my kids like to say at such times "Boker Tov Eliyahu" (Good morning Elijah).
Of course, Avineri reaches the wrong conclusion (he calls for a redeployment of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, removing the remainder of the blockade on Gaza, and a thinning of the civilian population by paying Jewish residents to leave Judea and Samaria), but the mea culpa with respect to Oslo and the 'Palestinians' intentions is fascinating.
I have the entire article in Hebrew (it was sent to me by email). I'm translating the key paragraphs below:
The initiators of Oslo and the process' supporters saw the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a conflict between two national movements, and believed - as I believed - that in direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO, a solution could be found to the territorial and strategic issues that are the source of the dispute between the two movements. It was not simple to persuade Israelis - and even the Labor party - that there was a national movement on the other side, and that although it had terrorist aspects, at heart it is entitled to fulfill its independent national self-definition, just like Zionism. The viewpoints of Golda Meir on the subject ("there is no Palestinian nation") have not been forgotten, and the fact that the initiators of Oslo managed to overcome this tradition of denial, to which even the Labor party was a partner, was an accomplishment.Wow. What an epiphany!
But the basis of this concept had a mistake. All of those who supported the Oslo process believed that we were talking about a dispute between two national movements, and that the other side felt the same way.
We were mistaken.
The Palestinian side does not believe that we are talking about a dispute between two national movements: It believes that we are talking about a dispute between one national movement - the Palestinian - and a colonial imperialistic entity that will eventually die off. Therefore, the parallel that appears in the Palestinian textbooks is Algeria. It isn't the Israeli presence on the West Bank that is Algeria, but rather the entire Israel is Algeria, and the Israelis will disappear one way or the other, just like the French settlers were expelled from Algeria.
This is the reason why the Palestinian title for the two-state solution is different than the Israeli version. The Israeli stance talks about "two states for two peoples" but in the Palestinian version the phrase "for two peoples" does not appear. It only talks about "two states." If someone thinks that this is just poor phrasing, he should ask his Palestinian counterpart to express an opinion about the "two states for two peoples" version and he will sooner or later get the answer that there is no Jewish people. This is also the reason why the Palestinians refused the version suggested by [John] Kerry "an agreement between two nation states."
The truth is - and every Oslo supporter must recognize it - that in the Palestinian narrative, the Jews are not a people or a nation, but only a religious group, and therefore they are not entitled to a state. This is also the reason for the across-the-board and uncompromising opposition of the Palestinian side to recognizing the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People. Even those who believe that Benjamin Netanyahu raised the topic only to complicate the negotiations, must contend with the fact that the Palestinian refusal to contend with the topic derives from the simple reason that the Palestinians believe that there is no Jewish people.
The source of the dispute is not borders, settlements or even Jerusalem. And of course, this is connected to the Palestinian refusal to waive the principle of the right of return. There are good reasons to criticize the Netanyahu government's behavior during US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive the negotiations, but to ignore these deep-seeded views constitutes a lack of intellectual honesty.