Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Israel’s most fervent peacemaker squandered his best chance

By Dan Ephron October 16 Follow @danephron, WashPost

As Israel prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish extremist, the peace process the prime minister championed could not be in worse shape. A fresh wave of violence between the two sides has killed at least 30 Palestinians and seven Israelis in the past two weeks. The signature peace deal Rabin championed, the Oslo Accord, further unraveled when President Mahmoud Abbas announced last month that Palestinians would no longer be bound by it. The deal envisioned Israel’s gradual withdrawal from territory in the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for peaceful relations with the Palestinians after nearly a century of conflict. After two decades of intermittent violence and relentless Israeli settlement expansion, it is now largely defunct.

Although Rabin’s 1995 assassination devastated the peace camp in Israel, it seemed to offer his successor, Nobel Peace Laureate Shimon Peres, a real opportunity to fulfill the slain leader’s legacy. The killing launched a wave of sympathy for Labor — the party Rabin had led — and a sharp rise in support for his deals with the Palestinians. In opinion polls, some 60 percent of Israelis backed Peres, an impressive figure in a country accustomed to 50-50 splits. Peace seemed, if not inevitable, at least plausible.

(More here.)

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