President Shimon Peres has a historical weakness: Speaking on behalf of history. On Monday last week, May 4th, 2009, he told attendants at the AIPAC Conference in the US that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is familiar with history and wishes to “make history.”
That is, that Netanyahu wishes to be recorded in the annals of history as the person who partitioned this land.
A search through the archives revealed that the exact same day marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo-A Agreement. On May 4th, 1994 Peres was in Cairo, on the same decorated stage with Rabin, Mubarak, and Arafat, and added his signature to the agreement.
His speech was replete with promises on behalf of the minister of history for a better future in the Middle East and for humanity in its entirety. For example, the following baseless pledge: “Today we declare that the conflict has ended.”
A week later, in the face of a raging opposition headed by Netanyahu, Peres again resorted to history-rich language. The then-foreign minister declared that “never before has a government more convinced in its historic way faced the Knesset.”
To emphasize the point, Peres added: “We bring to the Knesset a historic, open, clear, and brave decision, which is the right way for the Jewish people on its historic path,” (Knesset transcript, May 11th, 1994.)
As we know, history ended up not conducting itself in line with Peres’ outline. The Oslo Accord is not considered a great bargain these days even in the view of people who lauded it enthusiastically at the time.
Many historians believe that in retrospect, the Oslo Accord was a major disaster, or at the very least a historical mistake.
Therefore, Mr. Peres would do well to draw some kind of historic lessons and cease from pushing Netanyahu into making historic moves. The memories of Oslo provoke a great desire for normal days.