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The Crime and Criminals of Oslo

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg, April 30, 2002

In his powerful book PERFIDY, Ben Hecht writes: "The ancient Greeks believed that unpunished crimes brought plagues to the people who harbored them. They sought out and punished the evil doers in order to purify human life."

I have only one crime in mind, the CRIME OF OSLO, the crime that was legitimated and dignified on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, the crime that has resulted in the murder of more than 800 Jews, the crime that has wounded thousands more, the crime that has made hundreds of children cripples and orphans, the crime that has subjected Jewish communities to daily sniper fire, the crime that makes it dangerous to drive on Israeli roads, the crime that has disgraced and diminished the Jewish state, the crime whose perpetrators are not only free, but enjoy the monetary rewards and honors of public office.

Some background is necessary.

In August 1986, a National Unity Government headed by Shimon Peres introduced and had passed in the Knesset an amendment to the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (section 4h), which banned all contacts and meetings with representatives of terrorist organizations. The Government was prompted to such action because leftist politicians, academics, journalists, and peace activists, by their frequent contacts and meetings with terrorist spokesmen, were harming Israel's security by undermining the Government's tough stance against terrorism. This law was in force until its repeal on January 19, 1993 under the left-wing Rabin Government.

That government came to power after the June 1992 elections. Shimon Peres was made foreign minister and appointed Yossi Beilin his deputy minister. Peres and Beilin, who had reportedly made illegal contacts with PLO spokesmen prior to the elections, entertained the belief that Israel could achieve peace if Yasser Arafat were allowed to establish an Araba state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. They now needed not only an intermediary to establish contact with the PLO, but an appropriate European venue on which to conduct indirect as well as secret negotiations with Arafat then ensconced in Tunis.

It so happens that socialist Norway had close relations both with the PLO and Israel's Labor Party. Terge Larsen, a suave left-wing Norwegian academic attached to the Norwegian embassy in Cairo, had previously met with Arab and Israeli leaders. Larsen, himself ambitious to perform an Israel-PLO peace-making mission, met with Beilin, i.e., Peres' deputy minister, in Tel Aviv. The two men established an immediate rapport. However, since it would be extremely difficult for any Israeli minister to meet, undetected, with the PLO, Beilin told Larsen that Yair Herschfeld, a left-wing historian from Haifa University who was Beilin's confidant, would serve as his representative.

In December 1992, Larsen arranged for secret meetings in London between Herschfeld and Abu Ala, the financial brains of the PLO. Beilin was fully apprised of the results of these meetings (as was Arafat), and he certainly informed his boss Shimon Peres. Peres, Beilin, and Hershfeld knew that these clandestine meetings were prohibited by the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance. These illegal meetings led to the "back-channel" Oslo negotiations and the Israel-PLO Agreement, which called for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and from undefined areas of Judea and Samaria. (Dr. Ron Pundak, who represented Peres and Beilin in those negotiations, is now Director of the Peres Peace Center, funded by Norway.)

Eventually, a petition submitted to Israel's Supreme Court (HC 3414/96) claimed that the Agreement was illegal, indeed, that its implementation would require Israel's Government "to perform certain acts which may be classified PRIMA FACIE as treason under sections 97, 99 and 100 of the Penal Law." Those obligations, the petition went on to say, "can be divided into four kinds of acts:

1. the category of acts which 'IMPAIR THE SOVEREIGNTY' of the State of Israel--section 97(a);

2. the category of acts which 'IMPAIR THE INTEGRITY' of the State of Israel--section 97(b);

3. the category of acts under section 99 which give assistance to an 'ENEMY' in war against Israel, which the Law specifically states includes a terrorist organization;

4. the category of acts in section 100 which evince an intention or resolve to commit one of the acts prohibited by sections 97 and 99."

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court held, in effect, that it lacked the power to consider the merits of the petition. This being so, the present writer believes that a Commission of National Inquiry should eventually be established to investigate the antecedents of the Israel-PLO Agreement and to determine whether those responsible for this agreement and its implementation have violated the laws mentioned above.

Whatever the findings of the Commission, it is beyond dispute that the Oslo Agreement has been an unmitigated disaster for Israel. Hence those responsible for this disaster should be publicly denounced and they should cease to derive any public benefits or honors.

One way or another, Oslo must be recognized as a monstrous crime, and its perpetrators must be held to account, if only by public disgrace. Otherwise, we shall not only have betrayed the victims of Oslo, but we shall have murdered the sense of justice in this and perhaps in future generations.