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The Oslo curse

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]

On 13 September, 1993, the Palestinian people woke up to a national disaster. They were surprised by a miserable regression, a political regression and a severe turn towards conceding national constants and rights. The story started with secret talks in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and culminated in an agreement to liquidate the Palestinian cause at the hands senior American politicians, with direct input from the Israelis. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres represented them, while the then Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, played an active and malicious role for the Palestinian side.

The agreement that came to light was called the Oslo Accords, or the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. Oslo has been a curse. It put an end to the armed struggle against the Israeli occupation forces and caused the national project to disregard the sacrifices made by the martyrs, prisoners and others who paid a high price for the sake of the struggle against the occupation. Instead, the Accords embraced a purely Zionist western project chasing the illusion of peace. This catastrophe was the painful beginning of the death of our national project and the concession and abandonment of the Palestinian people’s rights, knocked down at the stroke of a pen by a reckless politician who turned his back on our people and sacrifices, without thinking about the sanctity of this battle and our inalienable and legitimate rights. He also disregarded the illegitimacy of giving the Israelis any right or claim to Palestinian land.

Every truly patriotic Palestinian opposed this agreement, and many fought against it. Condemnations were issued by Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; many thinkers and commentators also rejected it.

Post-Oslo: What was written 20 years ago

However, this did not deter Abbas or prompt him to stop for a moment and reconsider. He went on to gamble with Palestinian rights and the fate of a nation still under occupation. The Israelis succeeded in pushing the final status issues — including Jerusalem, settlements, borders and refugees — to later stages. Moreover, the Israelis only implemented a fraction of the Palestinian negotiator’s demands and did not restore any of our people’s rights. They have used Oslo to Judaise Jerusalem, increase illegal settlement construction, arrest more Palestinians, change the border parameters, take complete control of the Palestinian economy, and impose security cooperation and coordination.

This basically involves the Palestinian Authority security services pursuing Palestinian individuals and preventing armed operations against Israelis, as a means to keep up the façade of a peace process. Meanwhile, the Palestinian negotiator has rushed to sign things off one by one, and remain in a quagmire, unable to decide, even for a moment, to return to the embrace of his people and put an end to this dangerous downward spiral into which he has cast our people. The Israelis have gone too far in their crimes and violations, and have avoided fulfilling their own Oslo commitments and obligations, thus evading what seemed to them as formalities.

Post-Oslo, it was not long before the Israelis returned to destroying anything that could possibly have the potential to realise the bare minimum of Palestinian rights. Abbas the Palestinian negotiator continues to chase them and beg for mediators and meetings with the Israelis. He also carries out joint security work with the criminal occupation in order to eliminate the emergence of resistance that could lead to another uprising.

Fatah threatens to withdraw from Oslo Agreement

While successive Israeli governments have indeed trampled on Oslo, crushing its clauses with their tanks and bombs, and thus destroying the dream of establishing a Palestinian state according to Abbas’s standards, it became very clear that Israel gives no real weight to the Accords and it has no actual value on the ground. Unfortunately, though, the agreement has remained firmly planted in the minds of Mahmoud Abbas and his team, who have tried to revive the moribund deal even though it has not even addressed the issue of a sovereign Palestinian state nor guaranteed the most basic of rights. It also imposed a sea and trade siege along with Israeli control over every aspect of Palestinian life, not only the unjust siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

In the midst of all of this confusion — concessions of our historical rights and the monopoly held by Abbas and his team over the fate of our people — the Palestinian resistance groups still make themselves heard and have a say in a different language, in an attempt to put the Palestinian cause back on the right track. Resistance also aims to impose difficult equations on the occupation in order to rein in the Israeli war machine, putting an end to its aspirations to eliminate the rights of our people and thwarting all liquidation projects that target our national cause.

Furthermore, the resistance groups stand up to anyone who thinks about gambling with our rights. All over Palestine they have managed to act as a deterrent to the Israelis; what has been taken by force can only be restored by force. They are determined to break the unjust siege on our people in Gaza regardless of the sacrifices that they must make. The resistance groups will not accept anything less than the liberation of all of Palestine, despite the failure of some to support them and enhance their steadfastness. Oslo was a curse, but curses can be broken.

This article first appeared in the Palestinian Information Centre on 12 September 2018

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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