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Shimon and Arik: Playing Both Sides of the Road

09 September 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Watch what they do, not what they say. 

Supposedly Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres is furious over the interview given by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv where he explained that Oslo, Camp David and Taba do not exist any more (see yesterday’s posting).  Interviewed this morning on the Voice of Israel Radio, Peres said the Oslo Accords are very much alive, pointing out as proof that the Palestinian Parliament is meeting in Ramallah today.  The Palestinian Authority and Parliament are part of ‘Oslo’ and a meeting of the parliament (with Sharon’s unenthusiastic approval) is a continuation of the recognition of the Accords.

Even veteran newsman Arieh Golan in exasperation shot his question to Peres as to why the foreign minister remains in the government if Sharon is so blatantly against the Oslo Accords.  Peres was one of the chief architects of the agreement and still remains a loyal supporter.

Sharon constantly claims the Accords no longer exist while Peres claims they are “alive.”  So much for the Right – Left public relations show.  They are both correct and both incorrect and let one not forget they both willingly serve in the same government when many of their colleagues would like to rip the National Unity Government apart.

Sharon knows Oslo means a territorial and sovereignty compromise towards the Palestinians while Peres knows the Accords cannot be implemented without iron clad guarantees of Israeli security.  Sharon will allow for the convening of the Palestinian Parliament in Ramallah while Peres agrees to the recapture of the Palestinian cities to root out terrorism. 

The Oslo Accords are only a framework for a Palestinian – Israeli peace agreement.  When moving towards peace it is invoked (Peres), when terror strikes it is rescinded (Sharon).   The Accords have never been revoked by any government.  Yet no practical application has taken place, nor agreements signed since Wye in October, 1998.  The Wye implementation failed when Arafat was caught cheating on the amount of men and weapons he had in his ‘security forces’.

There is no agreement on final borders, security arrangements, Palestinian sovereignty, Jerusalem, refugees or less bombastic issues like water, commercial relations and economic development. 

It must be remembered that both Sharon and Peres want security, realize Israel cannot control over 3 million Palestinians and advocate compromise to attain a reasonable, workable agreement with the Palestinians.  They do not agree on specifics, but that is irrelevant since with Arafat at the helm there is no negotiating partner.  Peres and Sharon are playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ and holding the coalition together.

More importantly all are in limbo as everyone is waiting for the outcome of the American action in Iraq and its ramifications in the Arab world.