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Living with the negative consequences of the Oslo Accords

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 [Saar Yaacov/Flickr]
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 [Saar Yaacov/Flickr]

The Oslo Accords have resulted in a series of compromises, each one exacerbating the harm done to the Palestinians and undermining seriously important matters, such as the refugees' right of return. Instead of advocating for decolonisation, the accords have produced decades of futile rhetoric about a "two-state solution" and wasted much of the Palestinians' valuable time. At the other end of the spectrum, however, the Israelis have exploited the time-wasting "negotiations" to facilitate its colonial expansion on a daily basis.

Ahead of a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, prior to addressing the UN General Assembly, senior Abbas advisor Nabil Shaath declared that it would be "utterly ridiculous" if Trump failed to commit himself to the two-state imposition. According to the Times of Israel, Shaath also expressed the opinion that scant results are expected from the forthcoming meeting: "I don't know if Mr. Trump has much to say. Already his delegation that was here, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, have requested a waiting period of three to four months before Mr Trump is ready with a formulation to get the peace process started."

The fact that Palestine is always discussed, even by Palestinian leaders, from a position of inferiority, shackles any potential for alternative thought and action. PA leaders are quick to describe as political drawbacks such waiting periods requested by the US or imposed upon Palestine by the international community. Yet the PA's willingness to accept such delays has turned them into a permanent farce which demonstrates the irresponsibility of the main diplomatic actors. For Israel, the US and the international community, these periods of alleged inaction serve as time for planning and executing further oppression in the form of settlement expansion, house demolitions and other punitive measures. It also includes curbs on the development of Palestinian society by targeting education premises, for example, as happened at the beginning of the new academic year recently.

Read: Israel has arrested 110,000 Palestinians since Oslo Accords

Palestinian leaders, on the other hand, have been busy with crippling Gaza into political submission with another attempt at reconciliation. Although described as the means towards ending Palestinian disunity, this could have severe repercussions if the aim is to eliminate the remaining strands of resistance to the Israeli occupation. Achieving this aim under such cruel circumstances as besieging and persecuting Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively is neither a cause for celebration nor an exercise in pragmatism.

The PA is reflecting what the international community has been imposing upon Palestinians politically. Shaath's comments indicate there is no will on behalf of the PA other than to persist with the two-state paradigm even though it has been declared obsolete by most sensible analysts. For the US and the international community, complying with such demands is not problematic, given the present acquiescence to the downward spiral started by the Oslo Accords. If Trump fails to "commit" to the two-state compromise, the waiting period will be used as a metaphor of complaint and compliance. It there is explicit mention of the imposition, though, the PA might celebrate what it would call a victory. In reality, it is spiralling towards destruction even as it claims victory in the farce that is Palestinian reconciliation. Such are the consequences of Oslo, for which the full price has still to be paid by Palestine and its people.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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