Why Did the Oslo Agreement Fail
The controversy has surrounded Oslo from the moment it came into being. Two articles were published in the October 21, 1993 edition of the London Review of Books; Edward Said presented the case in the first. He called the agreement “an instrument of Palestinian capitulation, of Palestinian Versailles,” arguing that it ignored international legality and undermined the basic national rights of the Palestinian people. It could not promote true Palestinian self-determination because it meant freedom, sovereignty and equality, not eternal submission to Israel. Ian S. brushed aside the collective euphoria that affected so many members of the international community at the time. Lustick argues in “The Oslo Accords as an Obstacle to Peace” that “opponents of the principles of compromise.” it can interpret, stop, complicate and even thwart it by prematurely (from the point of view of its supporters) treating the agreement as a legal code rather than a political framework. Lustick was well aware that Israeli and American opponents in Oslo had decided to “undermine the peace process by demystifying their major demands” and simply arguing that the Palestinians could not be trusted. Overall, the Oslo Accords have been effectively weakened by being treated “not as the basis of an evolving partnership, but as a set of legalistic weapons and public relations that can free Israel from its obligations, prevent further transfers of Palestinian territory under Palestinian control and delegitimize Arafat and the idea of a Palestinian state in the minds of Israeli public opinion.” All subsequent agreements were aimed at implementing the first three key agreements. During the second intifada, the road map for peace was introduced, which explicitly aimed at a two-State solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State. However, the roadmap quickly entered a cycle similar to the Oslo process, but without reaching an agreement. Meanwhile, palestinian leaders have continued to pursue what they have called the “right of return,” demanding that an ever-increasing number of Palestinians be allowed to settle in Israel`s territory before 1967, making Jews a minority in an Arab state. In 1993, nearly 3 million Palestinians were registered as refugees with UNRWA, a number that rose to 3.8 million in 2000 and now stands at 5.3 million.
The Palestinian leadership has never dared to confront their people to tell them that as part of a final peace agreement, just as Jews should leave their settlements east of the pre-1967 borders, Arab Palestinians should renounce their claim to settle west of those lines. Like building settlements, it undermined the idea that Arab Palestinians had finally made peace with the presence of a sovereign Jewish people in any part of the country. These two great obstacles to peace – Israeli settlements and the right of return – each representing a form of territorial maximalism and the ideological negation of the other people`s right to self-determination in the country, have grown ever greater under the aegis of constructive ambiguity. While Peres had limited settlement construction at the request of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Netanyahu continued construction in existing Israeli settlements, and presented plans for the construction of a new neighborhood, Har Homa, in East Jerusalem. However, it was far from the level of the Shamir government of 1991-92 and refrained from building new settlements, although the Oslo Accords do not provide for such a ban.  Construction of housing units before Oslo: 1991-92: 13,960, after Oslo: 1994-95: 3,840, 1996-1997: 3,570.  The Oslo Accords, signed 25 years ago next week, collapsed mainly because they did not offer Israelis the level of personal security that the Rabin-Peres government promised them at the time of signing. A series of deadly events – the massacre of believers in the Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, a wave of Hamas suicide bombers blowing up buses, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin – sent the vision of Oslo up in smoke. As the number of terrorist attacks increased, so did support for the agreements, as did Israeli support for the withdrawal of more territories, without which no final agreement could be reached. While the ultimate goal at Camp David was a “peace treaty between Israel and Jordan taking into account the final status agreement of the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” the Oslo negotiations took place directly between Israel and the PLO and aimed at a peace treaty directly between these groups. The Oslo Accords, like the Camp David Accords of 1978, were aimed only at an interim agreement that would allow for the first steps. Thereafter, a full agreement should be negotiated within five years.
[A] However, when an Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty was signed on October 26, 1994, it was without the Palestinians. The Oslo Accords had many flaws, including the inability to prohibit settlement expansion during the ongoing peace talks. But the deal was not doomed to failure from the start, as its critics claim. Oslo faltered and eventually collapsed because the Likud-led governments negotiated in bad faith. This has turned the much-vaunted peace process into a farce. In fact, it was worse than a farce: it provided Israel with the very cover it was looking for to pursue its illegal and aggressive settlement project in the West Bank with impunity. This constructive ambiguity inherent in every element of the agreements has proven to be extremely destructive. Instead of building trust and allowing the parties to adapt to the reality of the inevitable compromises necessary for peace, it simply allowed each party to insist on its own self-serving interpretation of what the agreements entailed and to continue the very behavior that destroyed trust on the other side. And when the time came, a few years later, to clarify the fundamental questions, subsequent failure was almost inevitable. But what Rabin sold to the Israeli public, a majority of whom supported the deal in the early years, was first and foremost the promise of long-term calm. Combat soldiers would no longer have to chase young stone-throwers through kasbahs and refugee camps, Israelis could stop fearing stabbing attacks, which were the main terrorist threat of the early 1990s. The murder of teenager Helena Rapp in Bat Yam was seen as one of the main triggers for Yitzhak Shamir`s resounding defeat against Rabin in the 1992 elections.
It hardly seems possible that 25 years have passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, that hopeful moment when peace between Palestinians and Israelis seemed near. In retrospect, the chords look less like a triumph than a pathetic failure. Most observers trying to figure out what went wrong argue over who to blame. The most constructive question is not who, but what, is to blame. What doomed the Oslo Accords to failure was also what made them possible in the first place: constructive ambiguity. The political-economic dimensions of the agreements were also examined by Peter Lagerquist in “Privatizing the Occupation: The Political Economy of an Oslo Development Project” and by Leila Farsakh in “Undermining Democracy in Palestine: The Politics of International Aid from Oslo.” While Lagerqist examines the dubious “economic” and financial plans facilitated by the Oslo Accords between the Israeli and Palestinian elites, Farsakh observes how donor countries have implemented programs in complete disregard of the reality on the ground in Palestine. In his critical assessment of aid programs in Palestine under the auspices of Oslo, Farsakh argues that “the donor community has not accepted Palestinian society`s own criticisms of the Oslo process and its definition of resistance to occupation.” Donor countries, led by the European Union and the United States, have instead focused on the policy of normalization with Israel against the national aspirations of the Palestinians themselves. The peace process is now virtually dead, if any, with the final nails driven into its coffin by the Trump administration`s ongoing punitive measures against the Palestinians. But the consequences of Oslo`s failure resonate in the streets of occupied East Jerusalem, through the settlement-covered hills of the West Bank and across the fields of the besieged Gaza Strip. While it is important to move forward and imagine a just future for all of historic Palestine, it is instructive to look back to understand how Israel and Palestine reached this current crossroads. Despite all its failures, there are still many lessons to be learned from the legacy of the Oslo Accords. In May 1999, the five-year transition period ended without a comprehensive peace agreement, but elements of the Oslo Accords remained.
The Provisional Palestinian Authority has become permanent and a dominant factor in the PLO. The West Bank remained divided into areas A, B and C. Area C, which covers about 60 percent of the West Bank, is under exclusive Israeli military and civilian control. Less than 1% of Area C is intended for use by Palestinians, who are also unable to build in their own existing villages in Area C due to Israeli restrictions.  The Israeli Civil Administration, which is part of a larger entity known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and a unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, is still fully functioning. The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee still exists. The Oslo Accords are two agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the Oslo I Accords, signed in Washington, D.C., in 1993;  and the Oslo II Agreement, signed in Taba, Egypt, in 1995.  The Oslo Accords marked the beginning of the Oslo Process, a peace process aimed at achieving a peace treaty based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and realizing the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” The Oslo process began after secret negotiations in Oslo that led to the PLO`s recognition of the State of Israel and Israel`s recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a negotiating partner. .
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