"I wish I could wake up one day and find that Gaza has sunk into the sea." That quote is attributed to Israel's late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He is reported to have expressed that wish in 1992, as the First Palestinian Intifada neared its end. Hamas was born out of that uprising and it, along with the Intifada, helped transform the entire Palestinian political landscape into new levels Rabin himself would not have predicted. In the meantime Gaza was not swallowed by the sea; instead it became a globally recognised symbol of resistance to aggression and the occupation's brutality.
Months after that "wish" it turned out that Rabin was, secretly, negotiating with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Oslo, Norway, producing what became known as the Oslo Accords, which were officially signed on 13 September 1993, in a White House ceremony presided over by then, jubilant United States President Bill Clinton.
The accords would prove to be a real curse for the PLO and its main faction Fatah, which was known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
The following year the late Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the Cairo Agreement, named after the Egyptian capital where it was signed. The ultimate goal of both the Oslo Accords and Cairo Agreement was some kind of Palestinian autonomy whereby Israel will end its occupation in both Gaza and the Jericho areas first. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was born and Gaza-Jericho first was hailed as a first step towards a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. Nearly three decades later and little has changed for the Palestinians.
In fact, throughout those years Israel has done everything possible to undermine both agreements, rendering them worthless and further disadvantaging Palestinians. Israeli society tilted to the right and the state became more aggressive and denied Palestinian rights even more than previously. Because of the Oslo Accords and all the agreements signed after it, Palestinians today are internally divided, brutally oppressed and losing more of the land that was promised for their future state, as more colonisers arrive to grab hold of it.
As a result, the movement which was once aimed at liberation, became more of a municipal authority in the impossible task of building a state under the watchful eye of the coloniser – Israel.
After decades of bloodshed, the grassroots rejection of the occupation by Palestinians; Israeli policy makers came to believe that Israel could not continue in its failing and costly occupation in the way it used to operate. They wanted to make it an occupier with less responsibilities. They believed that the PLO could be put into better use instead of keeping it as a sworn enemy. By allowing the PLO to become the civilian authority, with responsibility for security too, the aging liberation movement could be turned into an effective force not only controlling the Palestinian population in both Gaza and the West Bank but also as a security warning agent for Israel. The real dividend was further dividing Palestinians along factional lines despite their united goal – the creation of a Palestinian state.
This marked a huge turning point in the Palestinian struggle for independence and freedom. The moment the PA was created, the PLO lost its pride and historical legitimacy to become yet another failed bureaucracy. Indeed the PLO is still functioning and viewed, by many, as a separate entity from the PA but ordinary Palestinians see it as the same body because Fatah dominates both.
According to the Accords and the subsequent agreements, Palestinians today should be living in some kind of "state" or enclave, within recognised borders, making their own decisions through a democratic process. However this is not the case today. The PA is headed by the very man who signed the Oslo Accords, the corrupt Mahmoud Abbas, and failure has been the norm.
It is also notable that there were times when Hamas' hope was to join the PLO as a way of becoming recognised by the Palestinian populace as a legitimate national movement like many others. However; to date, Hamas is not represented in the PLO and has long given up its hope.
Many Palestinians believe Hamas did the right thing by not insisting on joining the PLO after the latter became no more than a failed and corrupt political organisation. The PA's domination of the PLO has completely transformed it from a liberation movement into a pawn of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.
The death of Palestinian critic Nizar Banat at the hands of PA security forces is an example of how far the PA is prepared to go to maintain its grip on the civilian population; serving Israel in the process.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.