The Story Behind the Handshake
The agreement reached last August in Oslo between Israel and the PLO, and then signed (with some modifications) on the White House lawn a month later, was negotiated in the deepest secrecy. So far the story behind it has been told only selectively and only by participants or supporters who see it as a triumphant historical breakthrough. But a very different picture emerges when that story is told more fully, which is what I propose to do here now.
Oslo was by no means the first place in which PLO officials had met with Israelis. From the 1970′s on, symposia, conferences, and “dialogues,” open as well as clandestine, were held in cities throughout the world under various organizational, semiofficial, and even UN auspices, usually with the host countries’ participation. As time went on, the Israeli participants became bolder, notwithstanding the Israeli law which prohibited direct unauthorized contact with members of the PLO. (This law was repealed shortly after the Labor party came to power in 1992.)
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