Why the Oslo Accords Failed

What went wrong?


[The Oslo Accords, which were signed in 1993, were designed as confidence-building measures to create trust between Israelis and Palestinians and bring peace to the region. Yet less than a decade after those accords were signed, the region was already mired in war. Following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, a former member of Peace Watch, a watch-dog group that monitored the implementations of the Oslo Accords, analyzed what went wrong.

Since the writing of this article, Arafat‘s death in 2004 changed the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, leaving the Palestinian Authority to govern the area. Although the terrorist bombins have subsided, rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The hopes of peace and security that the Oslo agreements offered have still not been realized.]
The failure of the Oslo agreements can be ascribed to the same reasons that are usually the cause of most agreement failures: both parties felt that Oslo had not delivered what they had expected from it.
Oslo was from the start meant to be an interim agreement as a prelude to the expected difficult negotiations toward a final agreement. An important component of it was that peace could be spread by goodwill on the part of the leaderships of both peoples.

The Expectations

Palestinian expectations were in the main twofold. The first expectation was that the Oslo process would bring to a halt the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Israeli withdrawals were to proceed according to a fixed schedule leading to Palestinian Authority control over more than 90 percent of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, setting the stage for final Israeli withdrawal all the way to the 1967 borders.
The second expectation centered around increased economic development in Palestinian society, lifting Palestinians out of crushing poverty and narrowing the gap in living standards between them and the Israelis that many Palestinians thought humiliating and enraging.

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Ziv Hellman is a Jerusalem-based writer and mathematician. A former editor at the Jerusalem Post, Ziv was a founding member of Peace Watch--the watchdog group reporting on the implementation of the Oslo Agreements. He also led the Israeli elections observer team evaluating the Palestinian Authority elections.

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