How the Oslo Peace Process has influenced the character and growth of the contemporary Middle East region
AbstractEleven years following the occurrence of the second uprising (intifada) in September 2000 and nineteen years following the endorsement of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, Palestinians and Israelis appear far from an ultimate status agreement. The diplomatic initiatives by the George W. Bush administration, especially the Performance-Based Road Map to Peace, as well as, the Annapolis Conference in 2007, circumvented the fundamental conflict issues. There also deferred such consultations by placing emphasis on “provisional” borders (Ifat, 2010). Such strategies facilitate more time for strengthening tangible facts that may prejudice ultimate status discussions. This paper posits to examine how the Oslo Peace Process has influenced the character and growth of the contemporary Middle East region.
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u Abstract PAGEREF _Toc316637750 h 2Introduction PAGEREF _Toc316637751 h 4The Oslo Peace Process PAGEREF _Toc316637752 h 5Contents of the Accords PAGEREF _Toc316637753 h 6Quandary with the Oslo Accords PAGEREF _Toc316637754 h 7Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc316637755 h 10References PAGEREF _Toc316637756 h 11
The Oslo Peace ProcessIntroduction
This paper posits to investigate how the Oslo Peace Process has influenced the growth and character of the Middle East region today. Eleven years following the occurrence of the second uprising (intifada) in September 2000 and nineteen years following the endorsement of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, Palestinians and Israelis appear far from an ultimate status agreement. The diplomatic initiatives by the administration of George W. Bush, principally the Performance-Based Road Map to Peace as well as the Annapolis Conference in 2007, circumvented the fundamental conflict issues, and deferred such consultations by placing emphasis on “provisional” borders. Such strategies facilitate more time for strengthening tangible facts that may prejudice ultimate status discussions (Ifat, 2010).
However, the absence of a political perspective destabilizes the moderates who work to trade peace to the populace. Military techniques towards conflict resolution have as well failed to realize results. The Qassam rocket assaults from Gaza have brought about calamitous poverty from constant siege of the Gaza Strip. Whereas military efforts by Israel to secure the liberation of soldiers detained by the Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006 also failed, they resulted in disapproval of the Israeli government’s war initiatives. The severe conflict in Southern Israel and Gaza in the Operation “Cast Lead” resulted in approximately 1300 deaths of Palestinian, four Israeli, as well as injuries to thousands of Palestinian people and multitudes of Israelis (Zaki, 2011).
Several problems present themselves in mainstream media and scholarly coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli clash, as well as initiatives to resolve or manage it. The first problem is that, there is diminutive consideration in regard to the phrase peace means to Palestinians and Israelis. The two tend to have rather different perceptions in relation to the concept of peace, also perceive it as an offensive word considering the collapse of the Oslo peace process. Secondly, the focus inclines on conflict and obstacles or failures rather than on the Palestinians and Israelis who continue working non-violently for a lasting, just, as well as secure peace amongst the peoples. It is essential to identify the impediments to a long-lasting, negotiated settlement at official levels in order that scholars, practitioners, and policy makers may deal with the challenges (Ifat, 2010).
Success accounts from groups that continue pursuing peace in times of fierce conflict can likewise support the endeavor. The experiences and skills of such factions inform policy options by Palestinian and Israeli political actors. It is essential to mention that news of such factions’ efforts would work to reform the pessimistic stereotypes prevalent in the two societies as well as the “no partner” description that dominate the dialogue. Conventional media coverage as well as, the traditional depiction of this clash in literature, is predisposed to differ considerably in the perspective of the lived state of affairs. It also differs in zeroing in on specific events, ignoring offer coverage to others, and providing prejudiced interpretations, which exclude the diversity of perspectives found in Palestinian and Israeli societies (Diamond & McDonald. 2006).
The Oslo Peace ProcessYasser Arafat, the former Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and Yitzhak Rabin, former Israeli Prime Minister, signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The Accords came about as a result of undisclosed back-channel discussions that were mediated by Norway. These Accords forestalled the official discussions that were at the same time on-going under the patronage of the US State Department. Even though, the accords were extensively heralded, they were as well broadly misrepresented as peace agreements. The Oslo Accords embraced an exchange of correspondence of mutual acknowledgment as well as a Declaration of Principles (DoP) that instituted a maximum transitional period of five years. This lead to a permanent resolution that was founded on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Consequently, the Oslo agreement could not be regarded as a peace agreement, but an agreement to initiate a negotiation process in pursuit of a comprehensive, just, and permanent peace settlement as well as historic resolution through the established political process (Ifat, 2010).
Several factors influenced the signing of the Oslo Accords. These factors include structural shifts from the demise of the Cold War as well as the Gulf War of 1991. The Palestinian uprising (intifada), started in December 1987, at a time when the leadership of PLO was in exile. Arafat viewed the uprising in the West Bank as well as Gaza as a potential intimidation to his power. Israeli leadership desired to end the revolt, which was costly, caused unconstructive press coverage, and generated security challenges (Diamond & McDonald. 2006).
Contents of the AccordsFollowing the celebrated White House Lawn handshake, Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams arrived at several provisional agreements. However, they failed to make progress on ultimate status issues, which entailed borders, refugees, water, security, settlements, as well as the status of Jerusalem. The 1995 Oslo II agreement formed the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority (PA) and alienated the West Bank into three areas A, B and C. these areas had varying levels of Israeli and Palestinian security and civil control. Altogether, this meant Palestinians had control over approximately 7% of the West Bank territory. Most of this territory was non-contiguous. The 1997 Hebron Protocol as well as, the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, were other agreements that were committed the parties, to put into operation preceding agreements. This brought about the redeployment of Israeli military from sections of Hebron, where numerous Israeli Jewish settlers lived in the center of the city of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (Ifat, 2010).
Fundamentally, the Oslo peace process culminated with the summit at Camp David in July 2000 between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak sought to conclusion the provisional period as well as the Oslo redeployment process through presenting an ultimate proposal to the Palestinians, as well as the Israeli citizens before the elections. While the Israeli Prime Minister went further than previous Israeli leaders (who declined to talk about any of the ultimate status issues, principally Jerusalem), Israel was to seize huge settlement blocks, maintain control of the water resources, airspace, borders, and the bypass roads.
Additionally, Palestinians were separated into three main canton blocks, sovereignty in Jerusalem was constrained, and there was consideration of the refugee issue concerning Palestine. The talks culminated in tragedy, and US President Bill Clinton united with Israel in faulting Arafat for declining what was subsequently referred to as the “Barak’s generous offer.” Even though the second uprising (intifada), or Al-Aqsa, began subsequent to Ariel Sharon’s contentious trip to the Haram esh-Sharif/Temple Mount on September 28, 2000, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators congregated in Taba in January 2001 to progress from the summit at Camp David. In Taba, Clinton offered his parameters for a bargained two-state resolution, which integrated proposed processes with reference to the Palestinian refugee issue, exchange of land, as well as the ultimate status of Jerusalem (Diamond & McDonald. 2006).
Quandary with the Oslo AccordsA major problem with the Oslo Accords was the broad misconception that they depicted a peace agreement, instead of an agreement on a provisional process that may lead to ultimate status negotiations on the foundational conflict concerns. From the commencement, the Oslo Accords focused on the asymmetry of the clash. Israel ought to be seen as a sovereign state that has a developed economy. Its military is ranked as the fourth largest worldwide, and has the support of the World’s sole superpower. It also possesses a powerful Jewish Diaspora. In contrast, the Palestinians lack such statehood, are impecunious, and lack proper military, despite the fact that there is a considerable, but fundamentally disenfranchised, Palestinian Diaspora. The correspondence of mutual acknowledgment exchanged among Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, as components of the Oslo Accords, mirror this asymmetry. The PLO acknowledged the State of Israel’s fundamental right to exist in security and peace, affirmed its obligation to the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. These were the foundation for a two-state resolution, devoted itself to the process of peace, and renounced terror campaigns (Ifat, 2010).
In contrast, the concise letter from Israeli Prime Minister stated that in regard to the PLO assurances included in the correspondence, the Government of Israel decided to acknowledge the PLO as the Palestinian people’s representative and therefore, would start negotiations with the Liberation Organization within the Middle East peace process. Rabin did not talk about Palestinian statehood, UN resolutions, or an obligation to discussions. This asymmetry was exacerbated by the actuality that the Palestinian delegates had been in exile and were uninformed of the authentic situation in the region (Zaki, 2011).
Even though Palestine is not regarded as a sovereign state, the international community largely uses an inter-state conflict resolution structure in addressing the conflict, thus, neglecting the dynamics of inter-group conflict (Diamond & McDonald. 2006). As a result of the confidentiality of the negotiations, the Palestinian and Israeli population were neither sufficiently involved in, nor equipped for the requisite compromises in the search for peace. Accordingly, spoilers existed in the two communities, and fanatical violence. For instance, in 1994 Muslims in prayer were massacred by the settler Baruch Goldstein or even the suicide bombings executed by the Hamas. Such terrorist attacks posed an impediment to implementing the agreements. The provisional, phased technique of Oslo failed to build trust, since Israel escalated the construction of settlements in order to generate authentic facts and the PA failed to reign in its militants. These developments, in conjunction with the establishment of road blocks and checkpoints, added to skepticism in relation to hope for peace (Zaki, 2011).
It is essential to mention that, the PA was usually treated like it was a state. However, numerous Palestinians regarded the PA as an Israeli agent, formed by the Oslo Accords in order to dodge the Palestinian Diaspora. The powers of the PA were restricted by Israel, most significantly in the financial sector. For instance, Israel had control over tax revenues that were collected from the Palestinians, which it subsequently dispatched to the PA for utilization in salary payments. From an economic point of view, the PA, whose responsibilities included functions such as arresting the militants, and providing health, sanitation services, and education, were cost effective for Israel. This consequently decreased the cost of its annexation of Palestinian lands (Diamond & McDonald. 2006).
The PA was planned to function as an interim government, although the provisional period was extended past five-years without provision for new elections. Israelis and Palestinians similarly were frustrated with the corruption and ineffectiveness of the PA, yet construed it differently. In the perspective of Israel, the PA verified the lack of a genuine partner for peace, while in the perspective of the Palestinians; it meant another structure of occupation. This paradigm exemplifies a broader problem in regard to the Oslo peace process, as well as its aftermath. Israelis and Palestinians tend to have contradictory conceptions in regard the conflict’s genesis as well as the parameters of peace (Ifat, 2010).
ConclusionTwo years ago, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seemed increasingly obstinate at official levels. In spite of the discord between the right-wing Israeli government and its deeply alienated adversary Palestinian government, there are Palestinians and Israelis who maintain the pursuit for a non-violent conflict resolution. These Palestinians and Israelis are in pursuit of a just, permanent, and secure peace agreement. Notwithstanding the images depicted in the Western media, Palestinian and Israeli societies are extremely diverse. Numerous peace activists from both societies have distinguished that, they normally have common interests with their contemporaries, than they do with several citizens in their individual society. These activists share a commitment to non-violence and impartiality, recognition of the pain experienced by the “Other,” as well as a long-term dedication to struggle notwithstanding the numerous challenges.
This paper is of the opinion that, a peaceful conflict resolution entails honoring the accounts of both societies and searching a way for security, justice, and acknowledgment for all. Support for Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers should contribute to the bottom-up approach for peacemaking that should accompany any effective top-down diplomatic approach to the process. The Oslo process established that, devoid of the engagement of the civil society, as well as public support, bureaucratic agreements cannot be implemented by the politicians, whose interests are in the short term gains. Simultaneously, strong leadership is required to make hard decisions, and provide leadership the populace along the proper path towards reconciliation. The activists such as the ones discussed in this paper have established that there exists a partner for peace on the two sides of the Green Line.
ReferencesDiamond, K. & McDonald, H. (2006). Multi Track Diplomacy; Systems Approach towards Peace. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press.
Ifat, M. (2010) Peace Building in Violent Conflict: Israeli-Palestinian Post-Oslo People-to-People Activities. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society.17 (3), 2.
Zaki, S. (2011). The Peace Process: From Oslo Parameters to Unilateral Actions. INSS Insight. 2(26), 1.