Israeli-Arab Negotiations 101
Rabin’s 1989 Peace Initiative – When The Security Hawk First Displayed His Dovish Peace Policy
Yitzhak Rabin’s 1989 Peace Initiative is the subject of my article published today in Fathom. This peace initiative, now almost forgotten because of Rabin’s subsequent Oslo Accords with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, focused on forming a Palestinian delegation comprised of non-PLO members to be selected through holding elections in the West Bank and Gaza and commencing negotiations with the Palestinian delegation over a political resolution of the dispute.
When Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently withdrew her participation in a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin – an event organized by Americans for Peace Now – a heated debate commenced: Was Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who agreed to shake the hand of Arafat and sign the Oslo Accords (for which he was assassinated) a man of peace, a hawk turned dove, as he has been universally idolized? Or was he, as Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters claim, a hawkish general who ordered the Israel Defense Forces soldiers to break the bones of the Palestinians during the 1987 Intifada, who opposed the creation of an independent Palestinian state and who is incorrectly celebrated as a dove because of his subsequent involvement in Oslo?
As someone who worked closely with Rabin on both his 1989 Peace Initiative as well as the Oslo Accords (including the Israel-PLO Mutual Recognition Agreement), I can confirm that both claims are wrong. As my article demonstrates, Rabin was neither a hawk suddenly turned into a dove in Oslo, nor a hawk pretending to be a dove. Rather, he was always a hawk on security matters and a dove with regard to policy issues, particularly the fate of the West Bank and Gaza. While signs of Rabin’s dovishness emerged much earlier, nowhere was Rabin’s central role in seeking peace clearer than when he published his own Peace Initiative in 1989.
My article provides the background for Rabin’s Peace Initiative, describes its main elements, compares it to its predecessor, the 1978 Camp David Accords, and to its successor, the Oslo Accords, and explains why I think that this peace initiative marked the real turning point in Rabin’s journey along the road starting with his support of the Jordanian Option to speaking with the PLO in Oslo.