Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
A New Middle East

With the overwhelming defeat of Ehud Barak, the "peace process" begun at Oslo is completely over and a new era has started in Israel and in Israel's relationship to the world.

As the Israeli prime minister who certainly went far beyond any of his predecessors -- and, it is likely, any of his successors for the foreseeable future -- Barak's crushing defeat by a margin of almost 25 percent represents a clear message that his approach is not acceptable to the people of Israel. Almost half of the people who voted for him only a year and a half ago did not vote for Barak this time. (We are sure that no small part of this rejection for most Israelis was due to his "secular revolution, as well.) Now Barak as a leader is gone.

Since last summer Barak has been declaring that his generous offers to the Palestinians are part of a package and if they are not accepted by the other side they do not remain on the table. Yesterday Barak and his outgoing Cabinet formalized this commitment with an official decision stating that his offers and former U.S. President Clinton's ideas are void and not binding on the government of Israel. All these somewhat wild proposals are now officially gone.

In Washington, President Clinton is no longer in office. From the beginning of the Oslo process, Clinton was deeply involved, doing more than his fair share to try to bring calm to the area. It was evident that he had a proprietary feeling towards the Israeli-Palestinian efforts to reach peace, and he made an intense, but unsuccessful, effort to reach some sort of closure in the past months. Now Clinton is gone.

President Bush is here and with him of course a whole new Administration that is very different from Clinton both in substance and in style. The new government in Washington brings a new perspective to the Middle East. They have signaled clearly that they do not intend to continue the intense personal involvement that was shown by Clinton and emphasized with Dennis Ross and Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State. The new Administration in Washington takes a broader perspective to view the Middle East as a whole without the extreme focus on the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Recently, U.S. government spokesmen have declared that they will introduce a new way of talking about events in the Middle East. They will refer to the negotiations between leaders as just that: talks, or summit meetings. But the "peace process" as a concept with a life of its own, is gone.

This is certainly a new beginning, though of course history is not erased. Certain elements will remain, at least for now, in particular international agreements signed by the parties and ratified by the Knesset such as the Oslo Agreements and the Wye Memorandum. Though never fully honored or implemented, they remain binding.

We are relieved that the "secular revolution" promulgated by Barak was rejected by some two-thirds of the Israeli voters, leaving no more residue than the other wild ideas that floated around during the past months. We have no great expectations from Ariel Sharon for great achievements in what really matters, but we will be satisfied, as our rabbonim said, if he does "not lend a hand to destroy religion in Eretz Hakodesh."

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.