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"We should better"

Twenty years have passed since the signing of the Oslo Agreement, which was to signify the start of peace between Israel and Palestine. "It fills me with sadness to look back at the optimism that existed 20 years ago when the agreement was signed," says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of Norwegian Refugee Aid.

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

The 24. September is the 20 year since the Oslo II agreement was signed in the Egyptian city of Taba. The agreement was signed in Washington four days later by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasir Arafat. The US, Russia, EU, Egypt, Jordan and Norway witnessed the signing.
The Oslo II Agreement was the continuation of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, the first political agreement between Israel and Palestine. The agreement from 1993 provided for a two-stage peace process and laid the political foundation for limited Palestinian autonomy, with partial Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Oslo II agreement, on the other hand, divided the West Bank into three areas with different statuses. The agreement also laid the foundation for a further peace process over five years. In the movie Beyond the Peace Process Ny Tid editor Truls Lie sheds light on the Oslo process from various angles through interviews with activists, politicians and heads of state. "Norway tried in the best sense to be a facilitator of the talks, but the political negotiations had one party who was too powerful, and who is then considered not to be very interested in letting the Palestinians regain their freedom," says Lie.
One of the reasons why Norway was given the opportunity to play a central role in the Oslo process was the traditionally close relationship between the labor parties in Norway and Israel, and the close contact between Norway and the PLO that developed in the 1980s – among other things as following the contact with the Palestinian top leadership in Lebanon, where Norway from 1978 had UNIFIL troops. The Oslo agreement was described as a great victory for Norwegian diplomacy. But the deal met with criticism from several teams.
"We have a proverb in Hebrew which says that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. I have no doubt that the Norwegian side had good intentions. But they were wrong – they were manipulated by the Israeli authorities, "said Israeli political scientist and activist Ilan Pappe in the film. "The question is why, when they realized that they were manipulated two years into the Oslo agreement by the Oslo II agreement, they did nothing. I do not blame them for believing that the Israelis played a historic role in reconciliation between the PLO and Israel – that they simply did not realize that what Israel was looking for was to find a replacement for occupation. "

Sad. The attempt to establish peace between the combatants should prove to make the path to reconciliation between the two parties more difficult. The first Oslo agreement, negotiated through the Oslo Channel, was signed in full public in front of the White House in Washington in the USA on 13 September 1993 – after first being signed in secret in Oslo on 20 August. Shortly before the ceremony, the parties had agreed on the final wording of the letters, which entailed mutual recognition. "It fills me with sadness to look back on the optimism that existed 20 years ago – when the agreement was entered into," says Secretary General of Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland in the film.
Since the film was made in 2013, there has been a steady expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and witnessed another war. Following the elections in March this year, a new, conservative government has come to power. Lie believes it is difficult to be optimistic about a solution for the future. "One can not be particularly optimistic about the Palestinian conflict. "The one-state solution will eventually force itself forward, as today's Palestinian territories are too fragmented for a two-state solution to be possible, and Israel will not be able to continue with the separating apartheid wall forever and be taken seriously internationally," Lie said.
From the Palestinian side, the agreement received mixed reception in 1994. PLO chairman Yasir Arafat was criticized for having largely approved the agreement without involving the entire organization or the Palestinian National Assembly. It was also criticized that the PLO leadership gave up the historic claim to Palestine and the lands lost when Israel was established in 1948, as well as the areas that were still occupied by Jewish settlements. The lack of the right of Palestinian refugees to return also drew criticism, as well as the fact that Israel's actual occupation of the Palestinian territories conquered in 1967 was not mentioned as such. The criticism came from several quarters, also within the PLO, and to an even greater extent from radical and Islamist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"The Oslo Accords themselves were silent on Palestinian sovereignty and independence. This says something about how difficult the topics were at this time, "says Salam Fayyad in the film. "Taking up Palestine or a strong Palestinian sovereignty was not acceptable. This is not about anything other than making it impossible for our people to live as free people with dignity and their own country, "Fayyad continues. He was president of the Palestinian Authority.
authority from 2007 to 2013.

Several settlements. Since the first agreement was signed in 1993, the number of settlements in the West Bank has increased from 100 to 000 in 380. During the same period, settlements in annexed East Jerusalem have increased from 000 to 2015.
The controversial agreement is referred to by many as "the other nakba" (Al Nakba means "disaster" in Arabic, and is often used to describe the mass exodus from Palestine during the 1948 war).
"I blame the Palestinians," said Hanan Ashrawi, a peace activist and former government member who also sits on the PLO's main board. "We should not have signed this agreement. We should probably do better. "

Watch the video at www.vimeo.com/88103160, password “Oslo”


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carima@nytid.no

Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Former journalist for MODERN TIMES.

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