by Dror Eydar
After years at the center of various political storms, President Shimon Peres has entered the public's good graces and won their admiration in his role as president. That's all fine and good, but admiration does not excuse his colossal mistakes.
Peres entered the Prime Minister's Office directly after Rabin's murder. Week after week he transferred another city to the Palestinian Authority. Then our buses started exploding. Dozens were killed in each attack. He gave them cities and they blew things up. About a year earlier, Benny Begin provided trustworthy information about Arafat's true intentions. Peres dismissed him.
At Camp David, Ehud Barak offered too much, and Arafat proceeded to rain blood and fire on Israel. He never intended to end the conflict. Begin was right. But this was not sufficient proof for the Oslo gang and their blind followers in the media.
Peres joined forces with Sharon, who caused the Likud to collapse and deceived its voters. Together they destroyed 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in Samaria. They promised that Gaza would turn into a mini-Singapore. Instead, we got a cross between Saudi Arabia and Iran and thousands of missiles fell on our heads.
Let's review the promises of Peres and his wise men, how they correctly predicted events beginning with Oslo until the disengagement and how they silenced the protesters at their gates. Nor have we mentioned the far-sighted opposition to bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 ...
So Peres "knows Abu Mazen" and "is aware of reality." And Abu Mazen for his part realizes a compromise must be reached on the Right of Return and that he will "not return to Safed."
Here's a reality check: Two days after being interviewed on Channel 2, Abu Mazen was quick to declare, in the Palestinian Authority's newspaper "Al-Hayat al-Jadida" that his position on Safed was personal, and that he has no intention of giving up on the Right of Return. "No one can give up on the Right of Return," he said. Peres was also aware that Olmert had made reckless offers to Abbas and that Abbas' response was to run away.
Tzipi Livni was quick to declare that Peres has "told the public the truth." The truth is that 20 years is long enough to realize that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to sign on a conclusive end to the conflict. You have to be familiar with Palestinian culture — even within Fatah — to understand that they have no intention of coming to terms with our existence. These matters are explained at length on Itamar Marcus' Palestinian Media Watch website. I highly recommend that Peres' advisers peruse the site.
In the same newspaper, Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina said that "a television interview is not the same as negotiations, and the purpose of the interview for Israeli television was to influence Israeli public opinion." Just like Peres' words on Sunday, three weeks before elections. As if 20 years hadn't passed, he still believes in a New Middle East. It's only the rest of us who have forgotten.
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