jawad jawad – During the history of Palestine, there have been a number of major events that led to the current situation we are living in. As Palestinians, we passed by the Ottoman era, the British mandate along with the Belfour treaty, and the Jordanian rule along with control of the West Bank as a personal interest. Those periods of time helped all parties but the Palestinians, and those major timelines left us with the Israeli occupation. As occupiers, the Israeli occupation interest has always been about gaining more land and power to secure its territories. In 1983, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians reached its peak, which led to the Oslo Accords as a peace solution. Nevertheless, Oslo was nothing but a failure.
What led to Oslo? The answer is the Intifada of 1987. Ever Since 1948, the Palestinians were displaces and expelled from their homes, slaughtered, and inhumanly treated by the colonial power, they have had enough with the Israeli oppression. This was until “the killing of four Palestinian civilians by an Israeli jeep at a checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, and then the subsequent killing of seventeen-year-old Hatem Abu Sisi by an Israeli officer who fired into a crowd of aggrieved and protesting Palestinians” (Karkar). As a result of these events, Palestinians started the revolt against the Israeli oppression. The first Intifada started in almost all Palestinian neighborhoods, it was Palestinians with their rocks, against the Israeli troops. The First Intifada took an international attention as it showed the violations that the Israeli government did to the Palestinians. After three years of bloodbaths, Madrid Conference took place in 1991, then the Oslo Accords as a first step in peace process, and a two-state solution. “Rabin and Arafat signed the Accords on the White House lawn in September 1993. President Clinton announced that the “Children of Abraham” had taken new steps on a “bold journey” toward peace” (Jones). This move is supposedly good for both states; however, it helped the Israelis more as it ignored the basic rights of the Palestinians. From the beginning, this agreement was a big mistake.
Right after the agreement, it was obvious that the people of the two states did not accept the contract. A bunch of bloody acts took place after the signing. We have the assassination of Rabin, the massacre of Hebron, and the attacks of Hamas. Right from the start, people never accepted the ideology of coexistence. “A 1994 massacre by an Israeli settler in Hebron fueled Palestinian anger, and then, in 1995, a right-wing Israeli gunman assassinated Rabin at a peace rally. The following year, after a series of Hamas bomb attacks on civilian targets had fueled outrage in Israel” (AlJazeera America). This shows that the Oslo accords came very early and in a bad timing. The streets of Palestine were still angered because of the Intifada, and also the Israelis wouldn’t give up an inch of the sites they wanted which explains the Hebron massacre.
For the Palestinians, this agreement was a big theft of land. The Accords didn’t even talk about the most basic issues Palestine had back them and still having. Both Oslo agreements were “silent on vital issues such as the right of return of the 1948 refugees, the borders of the Palestinian entity, the future of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza, and the status of Jerusalem” as Shliam explains. Yasser Arafat as a Palestinian leader at that time was naive and made bad calls. How can a revolutionary leader like Arafat forget about the most basic rights of a Palestinian? Arafat talked and accepted the division of land into two states, yet ignored the refugee problem, Jerusalem status, and the illegal settlements. This was a major shift. This empowered Israel and weakened the Palestinians. The problems that Shliam mentioned should have been placed as main issues, not as a secondary source. This agreement gave legitimacy to the state of Israel and recognized it as a country, not as a colonial power.
This brings us to the division of land, the land was divided into three areas: Area A, B, and C. Area A is under the authority of the Palestinian government, area B where Palestinian government has complete control over civil matters and the Israeli occupation has responsibility/control over security , and C is under the Israeli control. Arafat gave recognition for Israel as a country. This meant that Israel became a sovereign state with its own laws, security, and land. This took place also before Oslo accords, but after Oslo the recognition was international.
As an independent country, Israel sought to gain more power and land as a hegemon. This explained the illegal settlements, the wars on Gaza, and the Separation wall. As for the illegal settlements, they are prohibited yet not stopped but they are even expanding and increasing in number. The war on Gaza and the Separation is legitimized by alleged security reasons by Israel As a result of Oslo Accords, Israel has the right to defend its territories and residents. This increased the tension between “settlers on the Israeli side, Hamas on the Palestinian side” (AlJazeera America). The PLO, which was never elected by Palestinians, was the only representative of them. This caused a “Matrix of Control” as Edward Said explains; the power is now in the hands of Israel that directly influences and puts pressure on the PLO with the help of international powers. Hamas has been considered as a terrorist group, therefore, Oslo caused a civil split by recognizing one representative, not two. This is how Palestinians are weakened even more. (Aljazeera).
“The Oslo Accords were born dead because they did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of the three components of Palestinians living in the diaspora, Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza” (Eid). Palestinians gave up their rights when they recognized Israel; before the Oslo accords, Palestinians were oppressed, after Oslo, they were still oppressed but this time ‘legally’ because the world knows that Israel will do whatever to maintain its alleged security. The balance of power was never in favor of the Palestinian side, it was in favor with the Israeli side. This is how “there are refugees, detainees, blockades, settlements, “legal torture” of prisoners, dispossession, assassinations and occupation” as Eid explains, and therefore “comprehensive peace cannot be achieved” he concludes. These factors led to the Second Intifada, and more resistance by Palestinians.
But there is one more state that must take a big blame for what is taking place in Palestine, which is the United States of America. The USA failed to be the leader of the peace talks and to keep equal handed decisions upon the situation. Al Jazeera explains this by “Failure of the United States to serve as a tough but impartial mediator”. It is known that the USA wants a Middle Eastern strong ally to face ‘terrorism’. So a strong ally like Israel is what the USA is in need of. USA is pleased with the efforts of Israel. Therefore, it is not a surprise when I say that the Oslo accords were only to recognize Israel as a legitimate state and not to end the Palestinian struggle.
Again, the Oslo accords were a total failure; going through the British mandate, following it by the Oslo Accords, and until now, it is obvious that the world wants Israel to exist. For me, all those signings and treaties will lead to nothing but more recognition and power to the State of Israel. “The text did not promise or even mention an independent Palestinian state at the end of the transition period” Shliam explains. When a Jewish writer is saying this quote, we must learn that this whole agreement was a fraud for Palestinians. When Bush, the president of the USA, says that he will “use force to protect Israel” (Stolberg). By this being said, nothing will stop Israel. Moreover, as mentioned above, Oslo was born dead from the first place.
AlJazeera America. “Oslo explained: In 1993, Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed an agreement to resolve their conflict peacefully. Why did it fail?” 13 September 2013. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/13/oslo-accords-explained.html
AlJazeera. “Who killed the Oslo Accords? Failure of Palestinian leadership to read political realities and Israel’s culture of impunity ended Oslo long ago”. 1 October 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/10/killed-oslo-accords-151001072411049.html
Haidar, Eid. “The Oslo Accords: A Critique”. AlJazeera, 13 September 2013. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/201391282358965793.html
Jones, Steve. “What Were The Oslo Accords?: How Did The U.S. Fit Into The Agreements?”
About News, November 2014. http://usforeignpolicy.about.com/od/middleeast/a/What-Were-The-Oslo-Accords.htm
Karkar, Sonja. “The First Intifada 20 Years Later”. Electronic Intifada, 10 December 2007. https://electronicintifada.net/content/first-intifada-20-years-later/7251
Shliam, Avi. “It’s now clear: the Oslo peace accords were wrecked by Netanyahu’s bad faith”. The Gaurdian. 12 September 2013. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/12/oslo-israel-reneged-colonial-palestine
Shlaim, Avi. “Chapter 11: The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process”. Louise Fawcett ed., International Relations of the Middle East, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, 241-261.
Stolberg, Sherly. “Bush and Israel: Unlike his father – Americas – International Herald Tribune”. The NewYork times. 2 August 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/world/americas/02iht-bush.2363483.html