Authors of Oslo peace accord celebrate anniversary of 93 pact

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JERUSALEM — The architects of the Palestinian self-rule accords convened this week along the shores of the Sea of Galilee to mark three years since the first agreement was secretly initialed in Oslo.

No representatives from the Netanyahu government attended Monday's gathering, which included former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian and Norwegian officials.

Explaining why no one from the current government attended, one official who spoke on condition of anonymity reportedly said, "It is not our deal."

A month after the secret deal was initialed, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn.

Labor Knesset member Yossi Beilin, who was a key figure in the secret talks in Oslo, said that Monday's gathering was not a celebration, but was not a funeral, either.

The date of Aug. 19, 1993 "was very important. We changed the face of the region," he told Israel Radio.

"But I'm not sure if this government will really be able to reach a permanent solution with the Palestinians."

Netanyahu has stated his intention to honor the self-rule accords that the previous Labor government signed with the Palestinians.

But he has yet to implement a redeployment from the West Bank town of Hebron as stated in the Interim Agreement signed in September in Washington.

Netanyahu has also stated his opposition to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

"There is a danger that they won't find an agreement upon a permanent solution, seeing the government is not ready to withdraw in the West Bank at all," Beilin said.

While Labor Party members criticize Netanyahu for his hardline stances, Jewish settlement leaders are now accusing him of continuing the policies of the previous Labor government.

Representatives from Hebron's Jewish community and other settler leaders held an urgent meeting this week in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.

They decided to launch a campaign against the Hebron redeployment under the slogan, "The Redeployment From Hebron is Bad for the Jews."

The phrase recalls a campaign call that surfaced in religious communities shortly before the May national elections: "Netanyahu is Good for the Jews."

Participants at the meeting concluded that "the government does not have the mandate to implement policies of the previous government, which the public rejected" in the elections.

The settler leaders also called on the government to strengthen the Jewish community in Hebron, where some 450 Jewish settlers live in fortified enclaves among a population of 100,000 Palestinians.