Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has proclaimed the Oslo Accords dead, saying any future solution "will be decided only by the Palestinians."
Speaking to the BBC's Newshour, Khashoggi argued that the Oslo Accords "started weak and with limitations." Asked why Oslo died a slow death since its signing in 1993, Khashoggi explained that: "There was no international pressure on the Israelis and therefore the Israelis got away with building settlements, demolishing homes." He added:
The Israelis emptied the Palestinian struggle with the Oslo Accords and at the same time continued with the occupation. In doing so [the Israelis] deprived the Palestinians of the right to resist the occupation, and that I think is the main failure of the Oslo Accords.
Khashoggi was speaking on the back of MEMO's conference 'Oslo at 25: A Legacy of Broken Promises' held in London this weekend, in which the speakers reached a broad consensus that the Oslo Accords should be proclaimed dead. Khashoggi lamented that such a conference could probably not be repeated in the Middle East, noting that "an event like that would be difficult to hold today in the Arab world because we are retreating from freedom in most of the Arab countries." Khashoggi continued: "Most of the Arab world is currently collapsing, for example in Libya, Syria and Yemen and has no interest in discussing Palestine because they have miseries of their own. Then in countries like Saudi Arabia, my country, or in Egypt, they have no interest in those kinds of issues that motivate and rally the people because they want to subdue them instead."
Khashoggi spoke at length about Saudi Arabia's role in any future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, stressing that "Saudi Arabia has been sending mixed messages to the Palestinians, to the Arabs and to us – the people of Saudi Arabia." Khashoggi cited revelations in recent months that Saudi Arabia has been developing ever-closer ties to the State of Israel, particularly at the behest of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) and Saudi Arabia's alleged support for the so-called "Deal of the Century." Khashoggi interpreted these mixed messages by saying:
[quote] "The way I read it is that the Saudis want to establish a relationship with the Israelis in order to benefit from Israel's overwhelming power in the Middle East in order to drive the Iranians out of Syria. Yet maybe the Saudis also began to realise the cost of such a relationship with the Israelis and that the Deal of the Century, as it is called, will not materialise [but will instead] give the Saudis a bad name."
Khashoggi is not confident that the so-called Deal of the Century will provide any more progress towards a peaceful settlement than the Oslo Accords did 25 years ago. He told the BBC that he suspects President Donald Trump's deal will be "some kind of a business-like deal where the Palestinians will live in limited communities and they will be provided with jobs." Khashoggi explains that from President Trump's point of view, "he could argue that he has resolved the issue of Jerusalem because he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he moved the embassy there […] he also resolved the issue of refugees because he is unwilling to help UNRWA and is pressuring the Saudis, the Jordanians and other Arab countries to naturalise Palestinians who live there." Yet Khashoggi emphasised "that is not the way to resolve the issue [and] I do not think [President Trump] will come up with a plan that will be accepted – perhaps that is why the Saudis backed down."
Khashoggi concluded "the thing with the Palestinian issue is that it will be decided only by the Palestinians. No matter how powerful we are in Saudi Arabia we cannot dictate to the Palestinians what to do, because the Palestinian in Ramallah [in the occupied West Bank] is much freer than me in Jeddah or [Saudi Arabian capital] Riyadh, he still can go on the street and demonstrate against the deal which I cannot do."