Counting the Blessings of Oslo: The Unachievable Assignment

Category: World Affairs Topics: Foreign Policy, Occupation Views: 740

Although the Oslo peace summit held last week was dominated by cheerful vows promising peace and prosperity for all, the great uncertainty of the Middle East's future was clearly evident. The uncertainty over the emergence of genuine peace arose as a result of two main factors. The first factor is the insignificant outcome of the last six years of peace implementation following the announcement of the first "breakthrough" on August 29, 1993. The second factor can be easily seen in Israel's firm rejection of issues that are crucial to the Palestinian people.

While world leaders stood and spoke with a tone that combined sadness for Rabin's assassination and happiness for the prospect of peace, Ehud Barak never failed to repeat his positions with regards to the final status negotiations. For the Israeli Prime Minister, Oslo resembled yet another stage where he could time and again deny the legal and historical rights that Palestinian refugees hold in their homeland.

Barak is certainly aware of the legal violations that his position contains. But he is also knowledgeable of the strong political stand that his country obtains, thanks to the United States' ceaseless efforts in defending Israel's illegitimate policies.

Palestinians, on the other hand, are weaker than ever before. The reason behind such weakness is simple to diagnose. When Yasser Arafat decided to carry out a personal venture by negotiating with Israel alone in Oslo in late 1993, he overlooked the fact that a strong political stand must be present to guarantee the fair implementation of any signed agreement. Arafat failed to recognize that the political might and the military domination of Israel has cost Palestinian negotiators dearly in their talks with Israel.

The real danger of Oslo comes from its failure to abide by any legal foundation such as United Nations resolutions, which demand Israel to implement many vital points which Palestinian are constantly demanding. Oslo was therefore, the savior of Israel, who clung to a shabby legal argument in Palestine that is based on thousands of years of religious mythology.

The six years after the signing of Oslo have freed Israel and have crippled Palestinians. Now the leaders have met again, although some of the faces have changed. The recent Oslo summit, which was hardly as significant as the six-year-old summit, holds a different kind of value. The value of the conference is a result of the need to measure six years of accomplishments, if any at all.

The Israeli stand on the peace achievements varies from one segment of Israeli society to the other. If we exclude the Jewish settlers and their radical stand on most issues, many Israelis find themselves shifting their stances between Labor and Likud, depending on the frequency and damage caused by suicide bombings.

For Palestinians however, many more issues are at stake. The security of Palestinians is hardly ever discussed as a relevant component of peace arrangements. Yet, Palestinian concerns of security are one of a long list of rights that they have been deprived of since the occupation of most of Palestine in 1948 by Israeli gangs. Refugees, Jerusalem, water, settlements, borders and more are Palestinian primary issues on which they hope to achieve progress in a way that meets their national aspirations and international law.

But again, the Palestinian quest for fair settlements is met with so many predicaments. Unfortunately, Palestinians have no one to turn to, for Arab states are fighting their own battles separately with Israel, and the United States' endless backing of Israel is a doubtless fact.

With that understanding in mind, the 1999 Oslo summit, although it was not at all productive compared to the 1993 summit, had its own value as an important lesson or a disappointing, yet anticipated conclusion. Six years later, Israeli bulldozers are still eating up the olive orchards in the north, as well as the south of Palestine. Six years later, an estimated 4 million refugees are denied even Israel's recognition of their existence, needless to say their rights. Six years later, a Palestinian must acquire an Israeli permit to "freely" move in his own homeland. Six years later, Jerusalem is still denied its Palestinian identity, while its people are under continuous threat of expulsion. Yet six years later, the leaders meet and cheerfully count the blessings, peace and prosperity that Oslo has brought about to the warring Middle East.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Foreign Policy, Occupation
Views: 740

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