By Abraham H. Miller, Originally published in the New York Observer
On October 31, President Bill Clinton stood before an estimated crowd of 100,000 in Tel Aviv to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by an Israeli ultra-nationalist. Mr. Clinton was once again urging Israelis to take risks and make sacrifices for peace.
Unlike President Barack Obama, President Clinton’s support for Israel has never been in doubt. But Mr. Clinton has fallen into the traditional trap of envisioning the road to peace as a one-lane highway traveled by Israel alone, while the Palestinians sit on the shoulder creating an inter-generational culture of incitement and terror.
Mr. Clinton presided over the signing by Mr. Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of the 1993 Oslo Accords, an agreement that was to create the foundations for a just and lasting peace between the two sides. More important, no one did more than Clinton to help implement the accords. The hopes for Oslo, however, have evaporated over the years, and some would say predictably so.
Having fled Lebanon for Tunisia, Mr. Arafat used his base there to launch terror attacks on Israelis, eventually sustaining several retaliatory Israeli strikes on his headquarters. Safely ensconced thousands of miles from the front lines of the conflict, Mr. Arafat found himself becoming irrelevant.
In 1988, Mr. Arafat changed tactics, went to the UN and played the peace card. This led to a series of secret negotiations that culminated in the Oslo Accords and resulted in Mr. Arafat’s return to the West Bank from Tunisia, from which he had conducted terror attacks not only against Israelis, but also against Americans.