Beilin: Netanyahu backed the Palestinian state, Rabin didn’t

Former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin will never be able to forgive opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for the obstacles he presented that prevented the Oslo accords initiated by Beilin from moving forward, Beilin said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Zoomcast this week.

“The person who should be blamed or blessed by those who thought Oslo was a disaster is Netanyahu,” Beilin said in the interview.

Beilin acknowledged that Netanyahu continued to withdraw from the land in the Hebron and Wye River Accords and later backed the two-state solution. But he said the Likud leader should not have insisted on unrealistic preconditions for the Palestinians.

He said it was ironic that Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state, while his fellow former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin never did and Shimon Peres did just three years after stepping down as prime minister. But Beilin expressed confidence that Rabin’s views would have changed over time had he not been assassinated.

In his new book “Secrets I Will Not Take to the Grave,” Beilin recounted that the animosity between Rabin and Peres made it difficult for the peace process to take off when he was deputy foreign minister. When Rabin established his government in 1992, he reached an agreement with Peres that Peres would not participate in bilateral talks, despite the fact that he was foreign minister. So when Beilin started talking to Palestinians in Norway, he initially had to keep the talks a secret from the prime minister.

“Rabin hugged Peres the night of the peace rally where he was killed, but it was not characteristic of their relationships,” Beilin said. “The fact that I could not tell them about the beginning of the Oslo process was due to the relationship between them.”

When asked if he regretted the Oslo process, he said that, in hindsight, he should have pressured Rabin to seek a permanent agreement and not the interim agreement that was put in place.

Beilin, who served under Rabin and Peres, said he didn’t know why they hated each other so much. When asked to compare them to today’s warring couples in politics, Beilin responded by comparing the current Knesset to a kindergarten.

“The way people talked to each other in the Knesset in my time was more moderate,” he said.

Beilin, who led Meretz after serving as Labor Party minister, said he supported both parties to join the current government, even though it is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett whom he called “an extreme right.”

“Bennett’s idea of ​​not talking to the other side is childish,” Beilin said of the Palestinians. “It is very strange for me. But it is important that the left and the center-left are in the coalition so that their voice is heard.”

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