The Oslo Accords: 20 Years of a Political Charade

Originally, I didn’t want to write anything at the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Oslo accords, because I consider it a waste of time. But since there are still journalists and politicians who can get something positive out of this charade, I would like to show them that their thinking is illusory. Fact is: Secret negotiations take place between the fourth-largest nuclear power in the world and a brutally colonized and oppressed people, which only has international law on its side. This fact requires no further comment when it comes to a possible outcome.

At the outset, it should be mentioned that the so-called “Geneva Initiative”, initiated by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, who claimed to have submitted the non plus ultra of a “peace plan”, was a political flop. This charade was funded by the Swiss Federal Government and presented to the public in Geneva on 1 December 2003. By the way, in that document, all sensitive political questions remained unanswered. These two ex-politicians and their supporters had the hubris to believe that the Sharon government would spare a thought about their proposals. Sharon simply ignored their “plan.” The entire “peace process” may be regarded as a political show for the Western public, so that the Israeli colonization of the occupied territories could proceed smoothly till the bitter end.

The euphoria that prevailed at the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn, has finally given way to more sober skepticism. For euphoria was already on 13 September 1993, those who bothered to read thoroughly the Accords had no reason for euphoria. These Accords did not mention the establishment of a “Palestinian state,” “sovereignty,” or the “right to self-determination” of the Palestinian people. The Oslo Accords were designed so that the “Palestinian Authority” would serve as a “subcontractor” of the Israeli occupying power. Within narrowly defined limits, it “alone” could take within “zone A” “sovereign” decisions, and it should keep its own inhabitants in check, should they endanger Israel’s security.

This “peace process” has since been in a continuous loop, it has degenerated into a farce, which is currently re-listed as a drama. Under intense pressure from the U.S., the Israeli Justice Minister Tzipora “Tzipi” Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claim to “negotiate” in secret a peace settlement of the Middle East conflict. If the Palestinians don’t want to be subject to any Israeli diktat, these “negotiations” will fail, like all previous ones. Under the Ehud Olmert government, Livni and Erekat negotiated inconclusively for several years about “peace.” The negotiations failed because Israel wanted the Palestinians to surrender. The demand for total capitulation was circumscribed by Erekat’s infamous reply to Livni: “The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism.” Might Erekat and the “Palestinian authority” “convert” this time? Nor should it be forgotten that Livni stands in the tradition of revisionist Zionism. She is a member of a right-wing nationalist government, which alone has the say. Whatever Tzip Livni “concedes” in the negotiations cannot be taken at face value by the Palestinian side.

With the publication of the “Palestine Papers,” the world was made aware of the policy of rejectionism by the Israeli side. It is not the Palestinians (Arabs) who “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” as Abba Eban once said; it is the various Israeli governments who torpedo every chance for peace. This attitude is impressively documented in the book Israeli Rejectionism by Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit. This denial represents the red thread of Israeli politics that runs all the way from David Ben-Gurion up to Benjamin Netanyahu.

The “peace process” that broke out with Oslo turned out to be the third “catastrophe” for the Palestinians in their painful history. This “peace process” has brought only disadvantages to ordinary Palestinians, but not for the political class that has financially benefited enormously from it, be it the Abbas administration or the Hamas Palestinians. The former are bankrolled by the West, the latter by some Arab despots. Both political classes live in clover and have made their pile, either in Jordan or Qatar. Their behavior is shameful if one looks at the misery of their subjects under Israeli occupation. An improvement of their situation can only be achieved if the people rise up against these “representatives” or send them into exile in Jordan or Qatar.

This “peace process” has not only led to the tripling of the number of colonizers (settlers) in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, but the number of Palestinians killed has also tripled in the same period in comparison to the period 1967 to 1993. After Oslo, the occupied territories were covered with a road system, which in part is only open for Jewish Israelis. The destruction of Palestinian homes, intended to promote the Judaization of the occupied territories and Jerusalem, has reached unimaginable proportions. Israel has walled itself in by a fence, which in some parts is replaced by an eight-meter high wall, allegedly to protect its citizens against “Palestinian terrorism.” Adequately for the “peace process,” however, would be to finally “give” an oppressed and colonized people self-determination and freedom.

The West may still have to deal, journalistically and politically, with the “peace process” for another century until Israel has brought the whole of Palestine under its control. On land and road maps, it has already done so. Since the West doesn’t care about violations to international law and human rights by Israel and since its patron, the United States of America, breaches international law and human rights on a regular basis, the only effective democratic weapon of the Palestinians – international law – has become worthless. In the next century, this Middle Eastern drama could be performed on the international stage under the slogan, “Once upon a time, there was a Palestine,” if there were no sign of hope, that some people see, in the movement for one democratic state in Israel and Palestine.

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines.” He can be reached at: www.watzal.com. Read other articles by Ludwig.