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|Camp David Accords||1978|
|Oslo Accords||1993 / 95|
|Wye River Memorandum||1998|
|Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum||1998|
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the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the Oslo I Accord, signed in Oslo in 1993 and the Oslo II Accord, signed in Taba in 1995. The Oslo Accords marked the start of the Oslo process, a peace process that aimed the conclusion of a peace-treaty based on the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and fulfil the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination". The Oslo process started after secret negotiations in Oslo resulting in the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as partner in negotiations.
The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority, whose functions are the limited self-governance over part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, while the PLO would be Israel's partner in permanent status negotiations about the remaining issues. The most important issues are the borders of Israel and Palestine, the Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, the question of Israel's military presence in and control over Palestine after the recognition of the Palestinian state by Israel, and the Palestinian right of return. The Oslo Accords, however, fell short of the promise of a Palestinian state.
The Oslo process is the "peace process" that started in 1993 with secret talks between Israel and the PLO. It became an endless cycle of negotiations, suspension, mediation, restart of negotiations and suspension again. A number of agreements were reached, until the Oslo process ended after the failure of the Camp David Summit in 2000 and the outbreak of the Second Intifada.
During the Second Intifada, the Roadmap for Peace was introduced, which explicitly aimed a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The Roadmap, however, soon came into a cycle similar to the Oslo process, but without producing any agreement.
The Oslo Accords are based on the 1978 Camp David Accords and show therefore high similarity. The Camp David's "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" envisioned autonomy for the local, and only for the local, (Palestinian) inhabitants of West Bank and Gaza. As Israel regarded the PLO a terrorist organisation, it refused to talk with the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Instead, Israel preferred to negotiate with Egypt and Jordan, and "elected representatives of the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza".
Like the 1978 Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords were an interim agreement, allowing first steps, followed by negotiations to complete within five years. The main difference was that the final goal in Camp David was a "peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, taking into account the agreement reached in the final status of the West Bank and Gaza", while the Oslo Accords aimed at a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Indeed, an Israel–Jordan peace treaty was concluded, but only on 26 October 1994, after the Oslo I Accord, and without the Palestinians.
Both plans had common that they, possibly intentionally, did not have a "Plan B" for the case a final agreement would not be reached within the set period.
Only after Israel's acceptation of the PLO as negotiation partner, serious negotiations could start. In their Letters of Mutual Recognition of 9 September 1993, days before the signing of the Oslo I Accord, both parties declared to accept each other as negotiation partner. The PLO recognized the State of Israel. Israel recognized the PLO as "the representative of the Palestinian people"; no more, no less.
Stated goals of the Oslo Accords were inter alia a Palestinian interim Self-Government (not the Palestinian Authority, but the Palestinian Legislative Council) and a permanent settlement (of unresolved issues) within five years, based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Although the agreements recognize the Palestinian "legitimate and political rights", they remain silent about their fate after the interim period. The Oslo Accords do neither define the nature of the post-Oslo Palestinian self-government and its powers and responsibilities, nor do they define the borders of the territory it eventually would govern.
The first step was a partial Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho and transfer of some powers and responsibilities on civil matters to the interim Palestinian Authority. All to agree upon within two months from October 1993 (Oslo I, Annex II).
Then, Israeli troops withdraw from populated Palestinian areas to pave the way for Palestinian elections to establish the Council. The Council would replace the PA, and the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank would be dissolved (Oslo II, Article I). Further redeployments of Israeli troops would follow upon the inauguration of the Council (Oslo II, Annex I, Article I).
Permanent status negotiations about remaining issues would start not later than May 1996 (two years after the signing of the Gaza–Jericho Agreement; Oslo I, Article V) and be concluded before May 1999 (end of 5 year interim period). A peace treaty would end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
In May 1999, the five years interim period ended, but elements of the Oslo Accords remained. The interim Palestinian Authority became permanent, and a dominant factor of the PLO. The West Bank remained divided into Areas A, B and C, the latter some 60% of the West Bank and under exclusive military and civilian control, leaving the Palestinian inhabitants as an oppressed population with little rights. Also the Israeli Civil Administration, despite what the name suggests a military institution, is still functioning in full. The Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee still exists as well.
Key agreements in the Oslo process were:
All later agreements had the purpose to implement the former three key agreements.
Additional Israeli-Palestinian documents related to the Oslo Accords are:
The Oslo Accords were undermined by actions from both sides. For example, the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, in which 29 Palestinians were killed and 125 wounded by a lone gunman is often blamed for undermining Palestinian trust in the process. Similarly, intensification of Palestinian terror in the years immediately following the signing of the accord led to disenchantment on the Israeli side. These included a car bomb in Afula killing 8 people and a suicide bombing attack on the No. 5 bus on Dizengoff Street in Tel-Aviv killing 21 Israelis and one Dutch national.
The Oslo Accords did not stop the continued settlement expansion and blockades which caused the deterioration of economic conditions, and much frustration for Palestinians. In 20 years since the Oslo Accords, until 2013, the settler population is tripled. Most new settlers moved to settlements near the Green Line. The vast majority of the settlers who moved to isolated settlements more eastwards were ideologically motivated. After Oslo, the Israeli government took upon itself not to establish new settlements. Instead, however, some 100 outposts were established, encouraged and supported by the government.
The 2013 third Netanyahu government drastically enhanced new constructions in settlements, most without tenders and most in isolated settlements scattered over all of the West Bank. Additionally, the government published planning tenders for large-scale settlement construction in the area around East Jerusalem.
Norwegian academics, including Norway's leading authority on the negotiations, Hilde Henriksen Waage, have focused on the flawed role of Norway during the Oslo process. In 2001, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had been at the heart of the Oslo process, commissioned Waage to produce an official, comprehensive history of the Norwegian-mediated back channel negotiations. In order to do the research, she was given privileged access to all relevant, classified files in the ministry's archives. Waage was surprised to discover "not a single scrap of paper for the entire period from January to September 1993—precisely the period of the back channel talks". Involved persons kept documents privately and refused to hand them over. Waage concluded that there seems no doubt that the missing documents would have shown the extent to which the Oslo process was conducted on Israel’s premises, with Norway acting as Israel’s helpful errand boy. Norway played a mediating role as a small state between vastly unequal parties and had to play by the rules of the stronger party, acting on its premises. "Israel’s red lines were the ones that counted, and if the Palestinians wanted a deal, they would have to accept them, too."
There have been suggested alternatives to boundary setting and creating principles that divide Israelis and Palestinians. One alternative is to move a peace process towards the creation of a bi-national state, a "one-state solution", that promotes co-existence rather than to continuing to divide. An argument for this as a possible way of reconciliation is that neither side can wholly justify a claim for homogeneity. Also, some Israeli and Palestinian thinkers have previously argued for a bi-national state as a more attractive alternative to separatism.