Oslo Accords

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Concept.png Oslo Accords 
Yitzhak Clinton Arafat.png
US President Bill Clinton with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and PLO leader Yasser Arafat at the White House in Washington on 13 September 1993, during the historic handshake that sealed the Oslo Accords.

The Oslo Accords are a pair of agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO): the Oslo I Accord, signed in Washington, D.C., in 1993; and the Oslo II Accord, signed in Taba, Egypt, in 1995. They marked the start of the Oslo process, a peace process aimed at achieving a peace treaty based on Resolution 242 and Resolution 338 of the United Nations Security Council, and at fulfilling the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination". The Oslo process began after secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, resulting in both the recognition of Israel by the PLO and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in bilateral negotiations.

Among the notable outcomes of the Oslo Accords was the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, which was tasked with the responsibility of conducting limited Palestinian self-governance over parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the international acknowledgement of the PLO as Israel's partner in permanent-status negotiations about any remaining issues revolving around the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Bilateral dialogue stems from questions related to the international border between Israel and a future Palestinian state: negotiations for this subject are centred around Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, Israel's maintenance of control over security following the establishment of Palestinian autonomy, and the Palestinian right of return. The Oslo Accords did not create a definite Palestinian state.

A large portion of the Palestinian population, including various Palestinian militant groups, staunchly opposed the Oslo Accords; Palestinian-American philosopher Edward Said described them as a "Palestinian Versailles".[1]

Far-right Israelis were also opposed to the Oslo Accords, and Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a right-wing Israeli extremist for signing them.

The Oslo process

The Oslo process is the "peace process" that started in 1993 with secret talks between Israel and the PLO. It became a cycle of negotiations, suspension, mediation, restart of negotiations and suspension again. A number of agreements were reached, until the Oslo process ended after the failure of the Camp David Summit in 2000 and the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

During the Second Intifada, the Roadmap for Peace was introduced, which explicitly aimed at a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The Roadmap, however, soon entered a cycle similar to the Oslo process, but without producing any agreement.

Camp David Accords

The Oslo Accords are based on the 1978 Camp David Accords and show therefore considerable similarity with those Accords. The Camp David's "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" envisioned autonomy for the local, and only for the local, (Palestinian) inhabitants of West Bank and Gaza. At the time, there lived some 7,400 settlers in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), and 500 in Gaza, with the number in the West Bank, however, rapidly growing. As Israel regarded the PLO a terrorist organisation, it refused to talk with the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Instead, Israel preferred to negotiate with Egypt and Jordan, and "elected representatives of the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza".

While the final goal in Camp David was a "peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, taking into account the agreement reached in the final status of the West Bank and Gaza", the Oslo negotiations were directly between Israel and the PLO and aimed at a peace treaty directly between these groups. The Oslo Accords, like the 1978 Camp David Accords, merely aimed at an interim agreement that allowed first steps. This was intended to be followed by negotiation of a complete settlement within five years. When, however, an IsraelJordan peace treaty was concluded on 26 October 1994, it was without the Palestinians.

Thirty years on

On 14 September 2023, Le Monde reported that despite Israel's de facto annexation of a large part of the West Bank and the apartheid denounced by Palestinian and Israeli human rights NGOs, leaders on both sides and Western capitals have been careful not to contradict the treaty's two-state narrative:

Some world-renowned historic moments see their emotional impact fade over time. We later look back on them with a faint disillusioned smile. On 13 September 1993, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn in Washington. Under the gaze of American President Bill Clinton, the Israeli prime minister and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had sealed the Oslo Accords.
Thirty years on, the anniversary of the landmark event that was celebrated in Western capitals is met with embarrassment and silence. The hope raised at the time is far from the reality that prevails in Palestine today and none of the world's embassies will be celebrating the Rose Garden ceremony. The greatest concern is that no one has the courage to acknowledge the failure of the Oslo Accords and their underlying principle of two states for two peoples.
The diagnosis is obvious to anyone who makes the effort to travel to the area. The explosion in the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, from 280,000 in 1993 to 700,000 today, coupled with the construction of the separation barrier inside the territory, has transformed it into a completely ungovernable labyrinth of 165 micro-enclaves. Over 90% of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan is under the direct control of Israel.[2]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Why I No Longer Stand with Israel, and Never Will AgainArticle15 October 2023Scott Ritter"I stand with Palestine, because I stand for the children of Israel and Palestine, knowing full well that the only chance they have of a future where they can live together as neighbours united in peace, instead of enemies united in war, is for a free and independent Palestine to exist." (Scott Ritter)
Document:‘Turning Gaza into ashes’: Israel propaganda vs the worldArticle1 November 2023Ramzy BaroudIt is time to speak about Palestinian rights, Palestinian security and the Palestinian people’s right – in fact, obligation – to defend themselves.
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