Shimon Peres: The Peacemaker Who Wasn’t - The New York Times
by Hanan Ashrawi
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Now that the funeral of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister, is over and the effusive praise of world leaders has subsided, it’s time for a critical look at his legacy. While many remember him as a courageous and tireless advocate for peace, Palestinians recall a different man — one who was very good at talking peace but not so good at walking the walk.
Much of Mr. Peres’s reputation is based on his role in the Oslo Accords. In the early 1990s, he was involved in back-channel discussions that led to the historic signing of Oslo I, also known as the Declaration of Principles, by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization amid much fanfare on the White House lawn. In 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
It was during this period that I first met Mr. Peres, after I helped to initiate contact between Israel and the P.L.O., along with the Israeli academics Ron Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld. As foreign minister in Mr. Rabin’s government, Mr. Peres followed up on these secret meetings, leading to Israel’s agreeing — for the first time — to negotiate with the P.L.O.
Back then, Palestinians were optimistic about a future free of Israel’s dominance. We hoped that Mr. Peres and other Israeli leaders would follow up their statements in support of peace with determined action to reach a just and lasting agreement to end the conflict. As it turned out, there was little correlation between their lofty rhetoric and their actual policies.