By Benyamin Korn

American Jewish peace activists sponsored a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this week, complete with a large photograph of the late Yitzhak Rabin, urging implementation of Rabin’s dream of “separation between Israel and the Palestinians.”

They are either living in some kind of time warp, or they are intentionally distorting his legacy. Under the Oslo Accords, Rabin already implemented that separation, twenty years ago this autumn. And it’s still in effect.

The November 4 ad in the Times was sponsored by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, an institution that has long advocated Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. Invoking the memory and image of Prime Minister Rabin, they headlined their ad with his words: “Separation between Israel and the Palestinians is the best solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Either forgetting–or pretending–that no such separation ever took place, the ad goes on to demand the immediate creation of “a demilitarized Palestinian state” next to Israel.

Leave aside, for the moment, the fact that Palestinian leaders have said, again and again, that they will never accept genuine demilitarization.

Leave aside the fact that “demilitarized Palestinian state” is an oxymoron, because a state that is “demilitarized” one day can quietly and gradually become militarized, and Israel would face world condemnation if it tried to intervene.

Instead, let’s consider the fantasy that Israel and the Palestinians need to “separate.”

On September 28, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo II Accords, also known as the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. It provided for Israel’s withdrawal from the cities in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) where 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside.

And in the weeks that followed, Israel did just that.

Israel’s forces retreated from the cities of Nablus (Shechem), Jenin, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Jericho, and almost all of Hebron. Later, they withdrew from 100% of Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority took over all those areas. For the past twenty years, the PA has policed the streets, collected the garbage, issued the building permits, and administered the elections–that is, when the PA deigned to have elections at all. In Gaza, the PA ruled at first; today, Hamas is in charge there.

Israel and the Palestinians separated twenty years ago. The so-called Israeli occupation of the Palestinians ended twenty years ago. Anybody who claims otherwise is either deluding himself, or trying to delude the rest of us.

The problem is not that Rabin’s vision of separation was never implemented. The problem is that it didn’t work.

For decades, peace activists insisted that separation would lead to peace. “Stop occupying the Palestinians and they will live in peace with us,” they insisted. Prime Minister Rabin gave it a try.

Instead of peace, Israel finds itself living next door to a Palestinian Authority regime that is actively inciting the murder of Jews, shelters terrorists and hires them for its police force, pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists, and names its streets and parks after killers of Jews and Americans.

Separation? Been there, done that. Look where it got us.


Mr. Korn, chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists, is former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the Miami Jewish Tribune.

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