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Knesset Speaker: ‘Mistaken’ View Led to Oslo, Disengagement

At a speech marking 40 years since Yom Kippur, Yuli Edelstein says MKs need to engage public more with policy decisions.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/15/2013, 7:11 PM

Minister Yuli Edelstein
Minister Yuli Edelstein
Flash 90

The 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2005 “Disengagement” were both mistakes, and were both motivated by the same fundamentally flawed ideology, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said Tuesday, in a speech commemorating the Yom Kippur War, which was fought 40 years ago.

“Forty years have passed, but the nation of Israel keeps picking at its wounds, beating its breast and confessing its sins,” he said.

The Yom Kippur War is often recalled for an underestimation of enemy intentions among Israel's senior intelligence officers. Israel was surprised on the holiest day of the year in 1973 by a joint Syrian-Egyptian assault on its northern and southern borders.    

“Sometimes,” Edelstein warned, “the desire to atone for over-confidence can be expressed in over-compromise.” He said this led to a failure to respond to threats in a correct  and proportional manner. The Knesset Speaker was referring to the confidence Israel had gained through its impressive and swift military victory over combined Arab forces in the 1967 Six Day War.

He charged that in recent times Israel had suffered from a similar "mistaken worldview", where MKs believed that Israel could do everything on its own, where "even unilateral decisions would be welcomed and appreciated by the other side.”

This rose tinted view he said "can lead us to see a mocking smile as a peaceful gesture, a handshake as a peace agreement, and mockery as friendly teasing,” he said.

“And no, my fellow Knesset members, I’m not talking only about the Iranian threat,” Edelstein added. “This is also true of Israel’s policy decisions over the past few decades. These decisions – like the Oslo Accords, signed twenty years ago, and the Disengagement, carried out eight years ago – even if they were accepted by a Knesset majority democratically, turned out, for the most part, to be mistakes.”

The Knesset Speaker said, the only way to avoid such mistakes in the future would be to involve the Israeli public more deeply in the decision-making process. He said Knesset members could challenge their worldviews "by shining light on them...through a probing public debate.”