More than twenty years have passed since the historic handshake between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in Washington D.C. Originally this was supposed to be the beginning of a five-year-process leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
However, 20 years later, there is no such Palestinian state. The reasons for this are manifold, and no doubt Palestinians themselves have made mistakes and lost opportunities to advance their goals. The failure to achieve a final peaceful settlement to the conflict is an endless source of frustration for both Israeli and Palestinian society; but for Palestinians, who have failed to gain their independence, in particular. In contrast, Oslo has only succeeded in maintaining the occupation and tripling the population of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, leading to a total number of 550.000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at present. Therefore it is hardly surprising, that the Palestinian judgment of the failed process is today extremely negative.
Some Palestinians predicted this outcome on the eve of the historic agreement. Among them American-Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, whose 1993 text, “the morning after”, was a chilling warning of failure, and one that is worth reading in retrospect. Other authors in this volume look at the Oslo years from different angles, including political, legal and economic aspects.
Their main message is clear: The 1993 Oslo Accords need to be urgently revised by Palestinians, Israelis and the international community alike in order to be replaced by a new framework. As such, we have also included some articles that highlight current internal Palestinian discussions about their future strategies, including civil resistance and disobedience against the occupation (Just Vision, p. 95. A. Kopty, p. 98), a legal struggle in the international arena (S. Jabareen, p. 43) or the debate about a one state solution (D. Butto, p. 104).
This is not an attempt to provide a complete or “objective” review of the Oslo-process, but to provide space for on-the-ground analysis by Palestinian writers, thinkers and politicians of very different backgrounds. All authors express solely their personal views; the contributions do not represent the opinion of the Heinrich-BöllFoundation. However we hope that this volume can contribute to rethinking the Oslo-framework and those elements, which have proven to prolong the conflict instead of delivering a historic compromise so urgently needed to allow security, peace and dignity for all citizens in the region.
René Wildangel, Bente Scheller, Joachim Paul