Israeli lawyer talks of peace go-ahead

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process will not be stalled by the apparently hawkish new right wing Likud government of Israel, said the lawyer who brokered peace with the PLO.

Joel Singer, who conducted the secret Oslo negotiations with PLO officials and drafted the resulting historic agreement on self-government for Palestinians, was speaking at the launch of the British Israel Law Association at the Law Society Hall last week.

He said that since Rabin was assassinated and the Likud government came to power, people had been asking “what will happen now?” Singer believed nothing would change.

“Maybe the rhetoric will change but the real activity on the ground will not,” he said.

“No matter what ideology you hear from both sides of the negotiating table, the reality is so strong that it's affecting the thinking of both.

“I think the current government will be able to do things the previous Labour Party was not able to.”

Singer described how he recently met a Likud party member who had chained himself up in protest at one of the towns that has been given over to Palestinian self-rule.

This man told Singer he was glad the Labour Party had reached an agreement and presented Likud with a fait accompli; Likud would now be able to improve the agreement.

Singer said: “Likud can do it because they have no opposition, and because the Labour Party will support them in the peace process.

“Don't mind what they are saying, look at what they are doing and the difference will not be that large.”