Gush Shalom, The unimplemented Oslo Accords

The destruction of Palestinian homes in Nablus, years ago but years after the Israelis were supposed to be gone. Photo by Michael Loadenthal.

The Oslo Accords did not fail. They were simply not implemented

by Gush Shalom

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, one must remember and remind of the truth: The Oslo Accords did not fail. The Oslo Accords were simply not implemented. The non-implementation of the agreements had already cost thousands of lives and may many more lives.

The Oslo Accords had set an interim period of five years that began in April 1994. The situation in which the Palestinian Authority holds only a collection of isolated enclaves, having no real power even there, was to end in May 1999. Likewise, the division of the West Bank into the A, B and C areas was intended to be a temporary arrangement for only these five years, from 1994 to 1999. At the end of five years, all this should have been come to its end, replaced by implementation of the Definite Status.

The Palestinians expected, as a matter of course, that the Definite Status would involve the end of the Israeli occupation regime and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. The reason Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords was the assumption and expectation that a Palestinian state would emerge in 1999. For his part Yitzhak Rabin, a man who had devoted most of his life to war, knew that peace is made with the enemy. He fully and seriously intended to carry out what he had signed, and reach full peace with the Palestinians.

Had Arafat known that in 2018 the IDF would still be holding the whole of the West Bank and imposing a stangling siege on the Gaza Strip, and that the Israeli settlements would be growing and expanding, he would certainly not have dreamed of signing the agreement. Nor would Mahmoud Abbas or any other Palestinian leader have signed the Oslo Accords, could he have known that this would be the outcome.

The goal for which the Palestinians signed the agreement — ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state — did not come about. The State of Israel had not kept its part of the agreement. Naturally, also the State of Israel and its citizens did not gain what they expected — namely, an end to the conflict with the Palestinians and the achievement of peace and good neighborly relations. Had the Oslo Accords been implemented and the Definite Status carried out in 1999, we could have now been entering the twentieth year of peace between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, and the casualties of the Second Intifada and the years after it would have still been alive and well among us.


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