Still another moment of transition is occurring in Israel as the government of Yitzhak Rabin moves toward implementing the next phase of the agreement it struck in September 1993 with the PLO in Oslo. As at earlier stages, the arrival of this moment has been beset by delays—for reasons that are not far to seek. Although incidents of Arab terror abated sharply in the months just prior to the deadline for this further extension of Palestinian self-rule, the previous year had been marked by a tremendous increase in anti-Israel violence, and within Israel itself the feeling had become widespread that the entire Oslo “process” had failed—indeed, had perhaps been misconceived from the outset.
That judgment was not limited to Rabin’s parliamentary opposition and its supporters in the electorate. The Israeli military, normally extremely reticent about political matters, was quite blunt about the unfolding implementation of the Oslo accords in Gaza and Jericho. Thus, on May 3 of this year, Amnon Shahak, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), told the newspaper Yediot Ahronot: “The security situation in Gaza is far from being something to which one can give a passing grade.” Shaul Mofaz, who as head of the IDF’s southern command has operational responsibility for the Gaza area, told the same newspaper two weeks earlier that Arafat “has not met the conditions of the agreement he signed.” In Mofaz’s words, “Arafat . . . has failed, failed, failed.”