Israeli architect of Oslo accords says Middle East peace process is over (TELEGRAPH UK) By Adrian Blomfield, Jerusalem 04/06/12)
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The chief Israeli architect of the Oslo accords has urged the
Palestinian leadership to declare the death of the peace process he
helped instigate as Britain issued one of its strongest ever
condemnations of Israeli settlement policies.
Yossi Beilin urged Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to carry
out his threat to dissolve the Palestinian Authority – created by the
Oslo deal in 1993 – and hand back full control of the West Bank and
Gaza to Israel.
Mr Beilin´s dramatic intervention reflects growing international
concern that Israeli settlement construction is undermining the
viability of a "two-state solution", the Oslo formula meant to end
the Middle East conflict by establishing a Palestinian State
alongside an Israeli one.
While Mr Beilin was careful to blame "extremists" on both sides
for "gutting" the agreements, there has been mounting international
outrage after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, took
steps this week further to entrench Jewish settlements in the West
Bank and East Jerusalem.
His administration published tenders for more than 800 settler homes
and in a major policy shift, he also announced plans to seek the
retroactive legalisation of four wildcat settler enclaves known as
outposts in the West Bank that were built without planning permission
from the Israeli authorities.
Although all settlements are considered illegal under international
law, outposts are also prohibited under Israeli law and courts in the
Jewish state have ordered that a number be demolished – a step Mr
Netanyahu´s pro-settler ruling coalition has sought to resist.
The issue of outposts is particularly incendiary as many are built on
privately owned Palestinian land, and Israel has made repeated
pledges in the past to dismantle dozens of them.
Britain responded angrily to the move, accusing Israel of being in
breach of commitments it made under the Bush era Road Map to freeze
all settlement construction on land it captured during the Six Day
War of 1967.
"Systematic, illegal Israeli settlement activity poses the most
significant and live threat to the viability of the two state
solution," William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said. "The Israeli
government´s policy is illegal under international law,
counterproductive, destabilising and provocative."
With more than 500,000 Israelis now living beyond the pre-1967
armistice lines, Palestinians say it will soon be impossible to build
a state of their own because the settlement footprint extends across
so much of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which they claim as
Mr Abbas, who has refused to negotiate with Israel unless it carries
out earlier pledges to freeze settlement construction, had included a
threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority in a letter to Mr
Netanyahu to be delivered next week.
But he withdrew the clause under pressure from President Barack Obama.
The authority was only ever meant to be an interim measure on the way
to full Palestinian statehood, and many in the West Bank believe that
it now serves Israel´s interests far more than its own.
If it were dismantled, Israel would be forced to send its troops back
into Palestinian cities and bear the full cost of its occupation,
much of which is now shouldered by Britain and its European partners.
"Do not accept the request of President Obama, who merely wants to be
left undisturbed before election day," Mr Beilin wrote in an open
letter to Mr Abbas.
"Do not let Prime Minister Netanyahu hide behind the fig leaf of the
Palestinian Authority – impose upon him, once again, the
responsibility for the fate of 4 million Palestinians.
"For the sake of your own people, and for the sake of peace, you
cannot let this farce continue." Sealed by a famous handshake in 1993
between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn as a
beaming Bill Clinton looked on, the Oslo accords were the result of
months of secret negotiations between Mr Beilin – then deputy foreign
minister – and PLO representative Ahmed Qurei.
But while the agreement represented the high point of the peace
process, Mr Beilin said it had been so twisted it had now become
detrimental to hopes for peace.
"Oslo´s adversaries have turned the interim agreement, which was
supposed to last not more than six years and serve only as a pathway
to a finale solution, into an arena where they can continue to build
settlements or spin their dream of an Islamic empire," he wrote.
"The extremists´ gutting of the Oslo agreement has been complete. One
simply cannot continue with an interim agreement for more than 20
Last night Israel responded to the comments by Mr Hague, saying it
would be better if he put pressure instead on the Palestinians to
drop its demand for a settlement freeze and resume negotiations
"The only possible framework for a realistic solution to the
settlement issue has been, and still is, direct negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinians," said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the
Israeli foreign ministry.
"As long as the Palestinians continue to shun direct talks by all
kinds of pretexts and excuses life goes on and the issues remain
unresolved." (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012.
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