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The Oslo Accords

5 November 2016

In the early 1990s, renewed negotiations were conducted to make peace between Palestine and Israel. A peace agreement was concluded between the PLO and Israel in Oslo on 20 August 1993. These are the so-called Oslo Accords. This agreement was a framework for peace in the Middle East and a first step towards the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Oslo Accords officially signed

Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Yasser Arafat

Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Yasser Arafat of the PLO shake hands at the White House South Lawn after signing the Peace Accords, President Bill Clinton looks on.

The first negotiation was secretly attended by three Palestinian PLO members and two Israelis. This was because they wanted to keep the press out. The negotiations led to the drawing up of the accords on 20 August 1993 in Oslo. PLO member Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Secretary of State Shimon Peres officially signed the accords on 13 September 1993. This happened in the presence of Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat in Washington D.C.

According to the agreements, they should find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within five years. In the meantime, several measures would be taken to improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel recognized the PLO as a representative of the Palestinian people and Palestine would receive an autonomous interim government. This would later become the Palestinian Authority. The PLO recognized the Israeli state’s right to exist and PLO leader Arafat decided to resolve future conflicts only through negotiations. The armed struggle came to a halt. After all, the Palestinians would gradually regain self-government as Israel would gradually withdraw its army from Gaza and the West Bank.

Criticism from both sides

The accords aroused mixed feelings on both sides. Palestinians were appalled. The PLO, which had led them to destroy Israel for years, suddenly recognized the Jewish state. This cooperation was disapproved of by many and terror groups such as Hamas tried to hinder rapprochement between the two states.

But many Israelis also disagreed with the accords. There was a lot of suspicion towards the former terrorist leader Arafat. This mistrust was only reinforced by the Palestinian attacks that still continued to take place after the signing of the agreements.

In the years that followed, the Oslo process continued despite the attacks. In the 1990s, negotiations were conducted between the Israeli Prime Minister and the PLO for the transfer of territories to the Palestinian Authority. However, the ultimate goal of the Oslo Accords was not achieved and a definitive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not forthcoming.

In September 2000, the outbreak of the second intifada brought a definitive end to the Oslo process. With the terror war that followed, it was clear that peace between Israel and the Palestinians would not be realized for a long time.