JPRS 4th Ed: A Critical reading of the Olso accords

JPRS 4th Ed: A Critical reading of the Olso accords

Much debate, studies and researches have been carried out regarding the Oslo accords, it's no exaggeration to say there are thousands of such studies. In this instance, I will make a number of key points as a matter of critique of this peace agreement.


First, Palestinian Liberation organization (PLO) recognized the right of existence of the state of Israel and its occupation of the lands occupied in 1948 which represent 78% of the Palestinian land. Consequently, with this recognition, all the land occupied in 1948 was excluded from any negotiation. Subsequently, any negotiations would only be based around the West Bank and Gaza Strip.



Second, Israel recognized PLO as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. However, it did not recognize the right of Palestinians to own west bank and Gaza strip.There is no commitment whatsoever from Israel to withdraw from Gaza or West Bank.


Third, the accord doesn’t refer to the Gaza Strip or West Bank as occupied territories. Therefore, such an approach emphasizes the belief that these areas are “disputed lands”. This consideration was reflected on Israel’s position over the past decades where the status of illegal settlement issue and land swaps became a primary issue.


Fourth, PLO made a commitment that it will stop armed resistance as well as the Intifada. PLO thus committed to nonviolent methods and also removed the statement from its charter, which called on destrusction of Israel and the full liberation of Palestine. Such was the foundation of PLO, which was established in 1964, before the Gaza Strip or the West Bank came under occupation. The removal and amendments of these items (article 62 and 33) happened in 1998 and 1996.


Fifth, PLO committed to developing the Palestinian Authority (PA) through non-violent means (negotiation process) which meant severe repression and banning banning of armed resistance in the areas under its control. As a result, it was caught in the middle, between Israel and the Palestinian people, who refused the peace process and wanted armed resistance. This volatile atmosphere made PLO and PA appear, to all parties, as though they were Israels instrument of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. PA was pressured into stopping any form of resistance by any political faction. Israel had succeeded in making the PA play the role of a colonial agency. There is no doubt that this issue   improved the image of Israel around the world, as it was able to suppress Palestinians from a distance and with an aura of legitimacy.


Sixth, the Oslo accord was not implemented fully as it left the door open for both parties to come together and make an agreement on further issues. There were few steps like establishing the Palestinian Authority and giving it some territorial control over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But what about the other articles and parts of the agreement that was agreed by the two parties? In fact, there is no international binding mechanism to force Israel to abide by its obligations, thereby giving Israel an upper hand in negotiations.


Seventh, the agreement did not refer to the Palestinian right to self determination or establishing their independent state even on any part of Palestine.


Eights, the accord failed to refer to the role of the PLO concerning the protection of Palestinian territories external borders or security. It did not refer also to the PA’s jurisdiction over Israeli settlers in West Bank or Gaza Strip. Added to this, PA would never be able to import without Israels permission and oversight. This all adds upto a scenario where the PA is handcuffed on key issues regarding security practices, economic policies management of resources. Econmically this strengthened Israels grip on the lives of Palestinains as 70% of PA exports and 85% imports was directly with Israel. Furthermore, Israel controlled the freedom of movement and no one was allowed in or out without its permission.


Ninth, the disasterous decision to leave aside fundamental aspects of the conflict unresolved. This left the Oslo accords hollow and bankrupt from the very beginning. In any peace deal between two states, the key and most important issues will be addressed and solved. However, within the Palestinian case it was the opposite. The agreement started with minor issues and left key issues like Jerusalem, refugees, borders and water to later stages. No time limit or deadlines were set to solve these issues. This tragic mistake left Israel in control and subjected the peace process to Israels mood and determination.


Tenth, PA has turned into a functional entity that is not tied with the Palestinian people. The stability of the PA would is tied the self interest of Israel. Therefore, Israel can exert political or economic pressure against the PA if it does not do Israels bidding.


Eleven, the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo accord without a mandate from the Palestinian people and the internal decision making process within the Palestinians. There was no proper mandate. Many of the executive committee of the PLO resigned in protest against the accord. It was three years later in 1996 that the agreement on Oslo accord and amendments to the PLO charter was agreed but only after 400 new members were added to the Palestinian National Council for the sole purpose of passing this agreement. Even the head of the Palestinian National Council did not have a clue regarding the names of the new members. It is worth pointing out   that neither the Palestinian people inside the occupied Palestine nor those abroad were asked in a referendum for their view in undertaking such a dramatic change. Not to mention the fact that Fatah itself had many leaders who opposed the accord.

Many people and observers speak about the Palestinian division between Fatih and Hamas after the elections in 2005. It is important to state that this division was not new and began over 19 years ago when Oslo accord was signed. The agreement has also lead to the creation of around ten factions which opposed the Oslo accord for various reasons. It is clear that the national split has negatively impacted the Palestinian people as a whole. Such a fundamental division meant that agreements made between the PA and Israel was forcefully driven through without the legitimacy of the Palestinian people.


Palestinian-American thinker, Edward Said, commented on the Oslo agreement stating that Yassir Arafat, the late Palestinian president brought the Palestinian people into a trap (he means Oslo) from where they are unable to escape on top of agreeing to submit to Israeli and American demands.

Palestinian researcher, Hesham Sharbtli, accused the Palestinian leadership at the time of signing the agreement, especially knowing what it contained and what it meant for the Palestinian struggle. He claimed that the leadership doesn’t know how to take a decision and is ignorant of the plight of the Palestinians and the central pillar of their resistnece. He further said that the leadership has nothing to face the Israelis with.

Last, the deal paved the way for Arabic and Islamic countries as well as other states who used to support Palestinian caue, to normalize and build relations with Israel. This enabled the Israelis to improve realtions with these countries

To conclude, Oslo accord is a failed project from within. It relegates the Palestinian entity to a servile role in the service of Israeli occupation, repression of Palestinians and land theft. It became and instrument of instrument of occupation and not an instrument of Palestinian aspirations. Sadly, forming a Palestinian state based on this agreement will not give the Palestinians the rights and freedoms they’ve been fighting for seven decades. It’s flawed logic of nonviolent resistance gives Israel immunity in carrying out violence and aggression against the Palestinians.

Without a doubt, this agreement gives Israel a chance to maneuver and procrastinate forever. It also allows Israel to continue building settlements and to create facts on the ground. This accord has never sought to develop the Palestinian Authority but rather, to give a cover for Israeli expansionist settlements .

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