11/10/2016

Shimon Peres: A controversial man.

Shimon Peres: A controversial man.

By Chloé de Radzitzky

Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize and former Israeli prime minister died on September 28th, 2016 at the age of 93. Once the news announced, leaders from the entire world hurried to pay their respects to this man of peace[1]. However, multiple voices question Peres’ inheritance, depicting a different image of the former statesman.

Shimon Peres is one of the most controversial political figures of the Middle East. Being one of the architects of the agreement of Oslo, the man appeared as a strong supporter of the two-state solution. He supported it till the end of his life, arguing that terror would continue unless arriving at this solution[2]. The agreement of Oslo, signed in 1993, was the first important agreement between Israel and the PLO[3] and was supposed to establish a frame for this two-state solution[4]. It was the first time when Israel and Palestine recognized each others and the agreement also implied the retreat of the military and administrative structures of the Palestinian centres. In exchange, the Palestinian authorities made a commitment to stop violence against Israel and to cooperate with their security forces.

Nevertheless, this process did not keep its promises. Indeed, if this agreement created a frame for peace, it postponed the discussion of contentious subjects such as the borders of the Palestinian State, the Israeli settlements, the question of the refugees, the water issue, as well as the questions concerning Jerusalem and the West Bank’s[5] territories. These elements among others contributed to the failure of the process.

Oslo is not Peres’ unique inheritance. The former prime minister is indeed behind the implementation of the first settlements. These are considered as being one of the major obstacles to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was also behind the destruction of Qana (Lebanon) in 1996, which killed 100 civilians[6]. He is also considered as the initiator of collective punishments against the Palestinians[7]. Finally, he is the one who developed the Israeli nuclear program in secret. In an interview, Perees explain that this nuclear program represents strategy of deterrence intended to protect Israel[8].

The failure of Oslo coupled with all these elements led to question the quality « of peace man  » of Shimon Peres. He was a pragmatic man who thought above all about the security of its country. Once the existence of Israel secured, he began to think about the peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians as being the ultimate solution to end terror[9]. According to Gérard Haddad, author for Jeune Afrique, ‘ if we understand the hostility of the Arabic press towards him, this one should take into account the fact that Peres broke the glass wall which seemed to separate Israelis and Arabs for eternity. ‘[10]. If the failure of the peace process launched in Oslo cannot be attributed to Shimon Peres, Ian Black, professor in London School of Economics, considers nevertheless that he did not push enough to bring its project to a successful reality[11].

References

[1] lesoir.be, 28/9/2016. Mort de Shimon Peres: les politiques saluent la mémoire «d’un homme de paix». lesoir.be, nd URL http://www.lesoir.be/1328226/article/actualite/monde/2016-09-28/mort-shimon-peres-politiques-saluent-memoire-d-un-homme-paix (accessed 6/10/2016)

[2] Exclusive: Shimon Peres on Peace, War and Israel’s Future | TIME, n.d. URL http://time.com/4224947/exclusive-shimon-peres-on-peace-war-and-israels-future/ (accessed 9/10/2016).

[3] Organisation pour la Libération de la Palestine

[4] Oslo explained | Al Jazeera America, n.d. URL http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/13/oslo-accords-explained.html (accessed 9/10/2016).

[5] Slater, Jerome, “What went wrong? The Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process” in Political Science Quarterly, 116:2 (Summer 2001).

[6] SAFI-EDDINE, P. recueillis par K., 2016. Leïla Shahid : « Peres, c’est le discours de paix sans les actes » – Propos recueillis par Kenza SAFI-EDDINE [WWW Document]. Orient- Jour. URL http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1009934/leila-shahid-peres-cest-le-discours-de-paix-sans-les-actes-.html (accessed 9/10/2016).

[7] Shimon Peres: Man of peace or war criminal? [WWW Document], n.d. URLShimon Peres: Man of peace or war criminal? [WWW Document], n.d. URL http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2016/09/shimon-peres-man-peace-war-criminal-160928192418385.html (accessed 6/10/2016).

[8] Exclusive: Shimon Peres on Peace, War and Israel’s Future | TIME, n.d. URL http://time.com/4224947/exclusive-shimon-peres-on-peace-war-and-israels-future/ (accessed 9/10/2016).

 

[9] Exclusive: Shimon Peres on Peace, War and Israel’s Future | TIME, n.d. URL http://time.com/4224947/exclusive-shimon-peres-on-peace-war-and-israels-future/ (accessed 9/10/2016).

 

[10] Haddad, 4/10/2016, Israël : Shimon Peres, un faucon devenu colombe – JeuneAfrique.com [WWW Document], n.d. URL http://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/361839/politique/israel-shimon-peres-faucon-devenu-colombe/ (accessed 7/10/2016).

[11]  Shimon Peres: Man of peace or war criminal? [WWW Document], n.d. URL http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2016/09/shimon-peres-man-peace-war-criminal-160928192418385.html (accessed 6/10/2016).