Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday, 30 December 2011

Analyst David Singer On The Demise Of The Oslo Accords & The Way Forward

Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer's latest thought-provoking article via the antipodean J-Wire service is entitled "Palestine –Bye, Bye Oslo, Hello Jordan and Egypt".

Writes David Singer:

'Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk may have been a little premature when he stated on 20 September:
"It’s over: the ‘peace process’, the ‘road map’, the ‘Oslo agreement’; the whole fandango is history.Personally, I think “Palestine” is a fantasy state, impossible to create now that the Israelis have stolen so much of the Arabs’ land for their colonial projects."
Fisk – in attributing this simplistic reason for signing Oslo’s death certificate – totally ignored the two offers made by Israel in 2001 and 2008 to cede its claims under the Mandate for Palestine and the United Nations Charter in more than 90%  of the land won from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

The real reasons for Oslo’s demise are far deeper and more complex – revealing unbridgeable gaps between Israel and the PLO in reaching any agreement with regard to the following issues after failed on and off negotiations extending over the last 19 years:

Israel’s demands that
Israel be recognized as the Jewish State;
Any Palestinian State be demilitarized;
The final borders determined between it and a Palestinian State be secure and recognized boundaries as stipulated by United Nations Security Council  Resolutions 242 and 338

The PLO’s demands that
Israel cede its claims in 100% of the territory won from Jordan in the 1967 War – with possibly equivalent land swaps to negate the removal of Jews from their homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem;
Israel agree to accept millions of Palestinian Arabs – and their descendants – who became refugees as a result of the 1948 War
Fisk’s prediction has however been given added weight with the news this week that  Hamas has agreed to join the PLO.

If this was to  actually occur Israel’s Prime Minister made his government’s position very clear when Israel Radio reportedly quoted him as saying that if Hamas joins the Palestinian government, he would refuse to conduct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Little comfort can be taken from the news that the Palestinian Authority might now be prepared to resume the long stalled peace negotiations with Israel if it released 100 prisoners. The parties can talk till the cows come in. But after 19 fruitless years – can sufficient pressure be put on both sides to come to an agreement on all their outstanding demands?

The Oslo Accords – and the Palestinian Authority – were born amid great enthusiasm  in 1993.
The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee – Francis Sejersted – expressed  the following hopes of the Committee when awarding the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzchak Rabin:
"In the committee’s view, the so-called Oslo Accords concluded last year between Israel and the PLO meant that developments in the Middle East had taken a new turning. What was revolutionary about them was the de facto mutual recognition by the two parties. Not least by virtue of that recognition, the accords opened up a possible way out of the vicious circle of violence breeding violence, and towards peaceful co-existence."
The Nobel Committee’s optimism was misplaced.

Yasser Arafat had signed a side letter dated 9 September 1993 – nine days prior to signing the Declaration of Principles in which he assured Yitzchak Rabin:
"The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era…I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself…to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations…the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators…the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant."
In breach of those commitments:-
The PLO Covenant still remains unchanged and unrevised in 2011.
The PLO has rejected the idea of Israel being entitled to secure and recognized borders as required under Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338
The PLO has unilaterally sought to gain statehood – not through negotiations – but by seeking recognition and admission to the United Nations and UNESCO.
The PLO is demanding pre-conditions for resuming the stalled negotiations with Israel.
Indeed one would be unable to find any improvement in the relationship between Israel and the PLO in 2011 to that which existed in 1994 when Mr Serjested declared:

The situation is still full of tension, marked by violence, killings, and insecurity, and stability is still far to seek

The PLO has been given its opportunity for the last 19 years to create a second Arab state in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan – but quite frankly has missed the boat.

Martin Sherman has summed up the current situation in these terms:
"For almost two decades after the Oslo Accords – despite massive financial aid and political support – they have produced nothing but a deeply divided entity, crippled by corruption and cronyism.
The result is a dysfunctional polity unable to conduct even the semblance of timely elections, and a puny economy, comprising a minuscule private sector and a bloated public one, totally unsustainable without massive infusions of foreign funds."
Sherman’s prescription to abandon Oslo and the two-state solution predicated by the Bush Roadmap is described by him as follows :
 "Since the geography is immutable, the focus must be on the demography.
 It is thus no more than “elementary” that the long-term preservation of the Jewish State must involve the relocation of the non-Israeli Arabs between the river and the sea. Any other option is self-deluded wishful thinking – or at least the burden of proof to show otherwise is on the proponents of such an option, especially in view of the post-Oslo/post-disengagement experiences."
I beg to differ.

Restoring the status quo at 4 June 1967 [i.e. the day before the Six Day War began] – as far as can now be done in direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan (and possibly Egypt) and within the framework of  Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and their existing peace treaties – will involve no-one – Arab or Jew – having to leave his current home unless he voluntarily wishes to do so.

This is not self-deluded wishful thinking – but It will need some pressure by the Quartet – America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – to be placed on Jordan and Egypt to sit down and negotiate with Israel if they refuse to do so voluntarily. [My emphasis]

The alternative -continued  tension, violence, insecurity, killings and instability – cannot be allowed to deteriorate into an inevitable slide into open warfare.

To hope for anything else as we usher in 2012 is pure folly.'


  1. Not directly on topic, but any Canadian readers who don't know of it already may be interested in this

  2. With great respect to Mr. Singer, he missed the single most paramount event that destroyed the Oslo Accord that is, the Second Intifada that erupted in September 2000.

    In legal terms, the Second Intifada was a REPUDIATION of the Accord; A repudiation is an infringement that goes to the core of an agreement or a contract that makes it null and void as distinct from a (legal) BREACH that can be remedied under the agreement.

    From the ferocity and the almost instantaneous spread of the violence of the Second Intifada, it was abundantly clear at the time that the Palestinians had been preparing for the intifada for quite a long time; possibly, even since immediately after the Accord was signed.

    It only proved that Yasser Arafat did not sign the Oslo Accord in good faith. No proof is needed for this assertion – Arafat admitted that much a number of times, LONG before;

    When repeatedly challenged by radical elements in the Arab world for making peace with the “Yahud” (Arabic for “Jew”), Arafat replied in a speech in Johannesburg in 1994 and again in a speech to students in Cairo in 1995 with the words: “Remember Hudaybiyah”.

    (The Hudaybiyah Treaty was a 10-Years peace agreement between Muhammad the Quraish tribe of Mecca, agreed in a place called Hudaybiyah (in Mecca) in 628 AD after Muhammad had failed to take Mecca by force. The treaty enabled Muhammad to devote his fighters to other battles and to regroup his forces for another assault on Mecca that indeed came two years later when he stormed Mecca by surprise and conquered it whilst the agreement was in force)

    Arafat was even more specific in a speech he made to Arabs ambassadors in Stockholm in 1996 when he said (in Arabic):” We (the Palestinians) are planning to destroy Israel and establish a pure Palestinian state – we shall give hell to the Jews and take everything from them” (or words to that effect) – ALL THESE WHILST THE OSLO ACCORD WAS BEING IMPLEMENTED.

    In Israel, these comments were foolishly dismissed as “just talk” and “aimed for internal consumption only” with disastrous consequences to Israel that followed.

    However, there was even greater casualty to peace; literally overnight, the Israeli public support and enthusiasm that peace was at reach, dissipated and replaced by anger and total distrust in the Accord and peace process as a whole, myself included.

    Eleven years on, the anger may have subsided but the Israeli distrust has not. More so, THERE IS NOTHING TO IDICATE THAT ANYTHING HAS CHANGED ON THE PALESTINIAN SIDE since the passing away of Arafat.

    Irrespective of the political colour of successive Israeli (coalition) governments since, the events of September 2000 are still paramount in anything and everything successive governments did (or not) in relation to the so-called “peace process”.

    Furthermore, contrary to prior majority public opinion, the Second Intifada has shown not only that the obstruction to peace does NOT come from the Jewish settlements in the West Bank but also it further entrenched support in the settlers positions by a section who had previously opposed it, a godsend to the settlement movement.

    The Israeli public, particularly the part that had opposed the settlements, now opposes dismantling them because removing settlements now would be rewarding the Palestinian violence.

    I also beg to defer with Mr. Singer’s “beg[ging] to defer”; no amount of pressure by outside powers would achieve anything insofar as Israel is concerned. The Quartet is just another window-dressing; with the exception of the USA, the other members have disqualified themselves as “honest brokers” by their strong anti-Israel policies; Israel will continue to do what Israel must continue to do and that is to ensure its OWN SURVIVAL as a safe state to its own citizens.

    Until trust is restored, if ever, the Palestinians can kiss their “aspirations” goodbye.

    This is not what Israel wants; it is the deck of cards it has been delt.

  3. I really appreciate that long and interesting comment, Jacob. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble.

  4. My pleasuer Dahpne; I truely admire and congratulate you for your tenacity in suppoerting Israel and happy to contribute whenever I can.

  5. Aw, shucks, thanks, Jacob. I am proud to Israel in my small way.

  6. word omitted there - "support"!