Israel and Palestine After Oslo

Nearly two decades after the Oslo Accords were signed, Israeli-Palestinian relations have improved little. As the Oslo peace process nears its end with the UN General Assembly's recognition of Palestine's unilateral declaration of independence, two options remain: chaos, extremism, and violence, or a new peace process.

RAMALLAH – On September 13, 1993, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas met on the South Lawn of the White House to sign the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, or the Oslo Accords. PLO leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin then sealed the agreement with a historic handshake.

The Oslo Accords – the result of secret talks that had been encouraged by the Norwegian government and conducted in the country’s capital – called for a five-year transitional period during which Israeli forces would withdraw from the Gaza Strip and unspecified areas of the West Bank, and a Palestinian Authority would be established. Letters of recognition between the PLO and Israel accompanied the agreement. The ultimate aim, though never explicitly stated, was to create a Palestinian state roughly within the 1967 borders.

But the goals laid out in the Oslo Accords remain unfulfilled. In fact, the agreement is unlikely to survive 89-year-old Peres and 77-year-old Abbas, who are now presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, respectively. Several factors contributed to the deterioration of prospects for lasting peace.

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