Anniversary of Oslo Accords is a bittersweet event

The fifth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Agreements is no occasion for celebration. Too much has gone wrong.

The anniversary should, however, provide an opportunity for reflection on the nature of the breakthrough that was clearly made in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and on where we go from here to correct a very sloppily devised agreement.

The major breakthrough at Oslo was the declaration of mutual recognition between the two long-time enemies. We now know that this mutuality was far from symmetrical.

The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel recognized the existence of a Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation Organization as its representative.

In exchange, the PLO's Yasser Arafat personally recognized Israel, but the Palestinian institutions have adamantly refused to recognize Israel's legitimacy and to rescind those parts of the Palestinian National Covenant that call for Israel's violent destruction.

This is not a minor point. It represents the differences in aspirations of the two sides and their very different views of the future. Many Israelis — the 70 percent, plus or minus, whom the polls say continue to support the process started at Oslo — believe, or at least fervently hope, that a successful conclusion of the negotiating process will lead to everlasting peace between the two peoples.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, look forward to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on as much territory as they can wrest from Israel. That territory will sooner or later become a jumping-off point for a renewed war against the hated Zionist entity.

Everlasting peace with that entity is the furthest thing from their minds.

What Israel and the Palestinians had in common before the Oslo Accords — like Israel and Anwar Sadat's Egypt a decade and a half earlier — was a growing sense of war-weariness.

We in Israel remember the psychic wear and tear of the intifada; we are less aware of the terrible toll it took on the Palestinians, a toll that finally drove them to agree to deal with the devil incarnate — us.

The negotiators at the secret talks in Norway's capital were correct in trying to take advantage of that mutual war-weariness; but they produced a shockingly sloppy agreement.

One of its worst sins of omission, which plagues us to this very day, is that it made no provision for ensuring the meticulous fulfillment of commitments made in early stages as a precondition for proceeding to the next stage.

To correct that basic flaw, it is not necessary for Israel to abrogate its commitment to the entire process. Especially at this time, when the world's attention and that of the United States are focused on the possibility of an international economic crisis, Israel can and should emphasize the fact that the underlying assumptions of Oslo's phased approach have simply not panned out.

The alternative is not a return to all-out hostilities; rather, it is the immediate launch of final-stage negotiations.

The broad outlines of such an agreement — maximum separation between Israelis and Palestinians in separate states — are acceptable to most Israelis. The details, some of which have been deemed unthinkable to date, must still be spelled out.

In such talks, Israel should offer to recognize a partially sovereign, wholly demilitarized Palestinian state, including part of a redivided Jerusalem. In exchange, the Palestinians should recognize the full Israeli annexation of the Jordan Rift Valley, the Judean Desert and parts of the West Bank, including an enlarged Jerusalem corridor.

Clearly, such an agreement would necessitate giving up many of the small settlements that were established by Greater Land of Israel zealots in the heart of the Palestinian areas.

One way to make this more palatable to Israeli pragmatists, who constitute a majority of the population, is to demand that this Jewish "population cleansing" be matched by the forcible removal of a number of Palestinian towns and villages from the areas that Israel would annex.

All that may sound unlikely. But perhaps we need to jog the collective memory of both sides, reminding people of how tired we all are of war and suffering. That might make both sides more willing to accept these terms.

Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are apparently planning a resumption of violent hostilities against Israel in preparation for their unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood next May.

Just as it takes two to tango and to make peace, which is why we do not yet have peace, two can also play the intifada game.

If the Palestinians resume orchestrated violence next spring, Israeli forces should gun down as many identified Hamas terrorists as possible, and simultaneously target a number of the Palestinian politicians and police commanders who are busy fomenting the renewed violence.

There is good reason to believe that if they know they have been targeted, they will do their utmost to prevent the outbreak of such violence. And perhaps that may be enough to jog their memories of the past.