Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Left Face, Backward March

Avi Friedman

While Barack Obama was announcing his vision of Middle East peace in Washington, Israeli peace activists were holding forth in Tel Aviv, where Mishpacha squeezed in a few words — and questions — edgewise with Yossi Beilin, the grand architect of the Oslo process, along with dissenting voices who say neither Oslo nor Obama will bring peace.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Yossi Beilin is nothing if not indefatigable. Sitting on stage with veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner at the Eretz Yisrael Museum in Tel Aviv, Beilin is clearly in his element speaking about a Palestinian state and the diplomatic storm that is likely to hit Israel when the PLO asks the United Nations to admit the nascent state in September.

It’s an old, familiar script for Beilin and his colleagues — and one that President Obama verbalized, more or less, during his May 19 speech at the State Department. Israel is threatened by demographics, the country is losing support and legitimacy around the world, the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely. The Palestinians are ready for peace, if only they had a partner to deal with on the Israeli side of the table.

“There is a different Palestinian leadership today,” contends Beilin. “They are committed to resolving the conflict with Israel without violence.”

Born one month after Israel achieved its independence, Beilin is no longer the youthful deputy foreign minister that initiated secret talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the early 1990s, meetings that were illegal at the time under Israeli law. Back from years in the political wilderness, he has spent the better part of a decade promoting the Geneva Initiative, a nongovernmental “peace treaty” that calls for the consummation of the Oslo process, including a Palestinian state in most of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza; land swaps so Israel can retain the settlement blocs where a majority of West Bank Israelis live; shared sovereignty in Jerusalem; financial compensation and a limited right of “return” to Israel for children and grandchildren of Palestinian refugees.

Love is in the air between Beilin and his European sponsors as they discuss recent events in the Middle East and warn about Israel’s increasing isolation if Jerusalem refuses to budge on key Palestinian demands.

But the tone changes when Saeb Erekat steps to the microphone. Erekat, who sat at negotiating tables with Beilin from Oslo to Camp David throughout the 1990s and still serves on the Fatah Central Committee, appears tense as he thanks the conference organizers for the “honor” of addressing the conference and wastes little time before attacking Kouchner, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the international community, and Israeli society in general. In sharp contrast to the Geneva Initiative’s “I am a partner” PR campaign, Erekat states simply and strongly that the Palestinians “have no partner for peace in Israel today.”

“I have had it,” says Erekat, jabbing an angry finger in the air. “I am sick and tired of Israelis either fearing me or being ashamed of what they did to me, or ignoring me. Negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis are over. Netanyahu threw the key to peace in the Dead Sea.”


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time