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Signing of Oslo Accords (archives) Photo: Reuters
Signing of Oslo Accords (archives) Photo: Reuters
 
 

When Oslo became a four-letter word

Op-ed: During election campaign, Israel's 35 parties did not dare link ill-conceived agreement to their political platform

Ophir Falk
Published: 01.24.13, 20:05 / Israel Opinion

There are many interpretations to the surprising election results in Israel. But one, perhaps overlooked thing, is clear. The Oslo Accords have lost all relevance. Thirty-five political parties participated in the election campaign and not one dared link the Oslo Accords to their political platform. Oslo has become a four-letter word for Israelis. Signed with much fanfare on September 13, 1993 by the late PM Yitzhak Rabin and former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, the ill-conceived accords will go down as an historical folly.

 

Leadership in Israel has not changed in 2013 but the core issues have. Israelis have realized that after 20 years of endless deliberations, senseless withdrawals and delusional Palestinian demands, a viable peace agreement is unattainable in the foreseeable future. And so the national agenda must change.

Netanyahu, Lapid and Bennett can bring that change.

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The only party leader that challenged Netanyahu’s premiership got less than half his mandates. Before Labor's Yachimovich decided to declare herself as a candidate for prime minister, the polls gave her 23 mandates. But due to that misguided declaration voters gave her party 15 actual mandates on Election Day.

 

Hatnua, the only party to really challenge Netanyahu's foreign policy wound up with a mere 5% of the vote. In fact, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who once led a party of 28 mandates, will now head a party of six.

 

The key characteristic of Israelis is that they hate being suckers and the elections underlined that idiosyncrasy. They balked at the political process that led to Israeli concessions in return for Palestinian terror. Those days have ended.

 

The 2013 voters told their representatives that "it's the economy and equal rights stupid."

 

Today, Israel's overtaxed and underprivileged middle class is completely fed up, and voted accordingly. Confronting internal rather than external challenges now sets the day. The future Israeli government will need to lower the cost of living in such a way that working people can afford housing, a car and a yearly family vacation without living a life in debt. The new government will also need to give Israelis a fair shake. If national military or civil service is seen as mandatory, it must be mandatory for all, not only for those obedient citizens that work, pay taxes and send their children to serve in the army.

 

Netanyahu is a true believer in the free market who sees Judea and Samaria as an integral part of his homeland, but at the same time he is much more liberal than he ever gets credit for. Netanyahu is a stalwart supporter of freedom of speech, small government, private enterprise, education, rule of law and perhaps most importantly, he wants equal rights and obligations for all.

 

Those positions correlate with both Bennett and Lapid, who emphasized the need for equal obligations and opportunities for all. That should be the focus of the next government.

 

Oslo and its tragic results have steered Israelis to other, perhaps more pressing matters. The election results may present a unique window of opportunity for a secure and fairer society in Israel.

 

 

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