Monday, September 16, 2013

Still Oslo

Many people think that the Oslo Accords that were signed on the White House lawn 20 years ago, on Sept 13, 1993, between Pres. Clinton, PM Rabin of Israel and Yasir Arafat of the PLO, have been a failure, and consequently have become null and void and have been replaced by subsequent agreements. But, the fact is that although the Accords have been seriously breached, particularly by Arafat who launched a wave of terrorist bombings against Israel during the second intifada of 2000, these Accords are still in effect, since no actual agreement has ever been made between the two sides to replace them. They are still in effect, even though Israel has suspended its withdrawal from areas that were supposed to be turned over to the Palestine Authority because of the wave of terrorism. Indeed the existence and legitimacy of the PA is entirely based on the Accords. If the Accords were to be abrogated, the PA would cease to exist and Israel would become once again the occupier of all the Palestinian cities of the West Bank. This is something that opponents of Oslo must recognize before they push for such an abrogation.

The current negotiations, following many previous attempts, are a natural continuation of the Oslo Accords of 1993, and hopefully will build on their base and expand their scope. Most significantly it is anticipated that the PA will be tranformed into a Palestinian State, with full sovereignty over its agreed territory and within its agreed borders. But, for this to happen the PA leadership must accept certain realities, the rightful existence of the State of Israel within its own borders and the fact that Israel is indeed the Jewish State in its own ancient homeland. Furthermore, the Palestinian population must be educated to accept peace with Israel, a situation that is remote from the current state of undisguised enmity.

Failing any positive outcome of these negotiations, there is a distinct possibility that the PA, that has not had an election in 6 years, could collapse, that then the Oslo Accords would be abrogated and that the whole situation would return to the status quo ante 1993. I don't think anyone really wants this to happen. Another possibility is that an interim agreement, that covers only some of the issues being discussed, could stabilize the current status quo, and leave the negotiations for a future time, when perhaps the current turmoil in the Arab world, in Syria , Egypt and Iraq, would be resolved. Don't hold your breath, that could take until hell freezes over.


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