Oslo Accords: a Bad Mistake

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Diana Buttu got of a good column last week on the farce of the Oslo Accords of 1994. It was always a shell game for the masters of deception the Israeli government who will have to dragged screaming into serious and substantive justice moves to a people they have so brutally abused and occupied for far too long.

I always liked the image  of negotiating over a pie—and while you were negotiating, the other side was eating the pie

The Ramallah based former legal advisor to the PLO wrote that it was a bad mistake to have negotiated with israel/ Why?

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But while I and others worked to end occupation others worked to entrench it, including the Israeli government and its settlers: within the first seven years after the negotiations began, Israel used incentives to nearly double its settler population. Today, the settler population is more than three times the size it was in 1993, with nearly 700,000 settlers living in the West Bank.

Back in 1993, settlements were, for the most part, confined to hilltops, with Israeli settlers considered to be fringe. Far from being ostracized, today, some Israel’s largest cities are settlements, settlers have taken over homes in the heart of Palestinian towns and settlers command positions on the Israeli cabinet and on the Supreme Court. In short, settlers are the norm, not the exception. Today, Israeli settlers speak openly about annexing the West Bank or expelling Palestinians.

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TI am often asked why the negotiations process failed. It is easy to point to the rise of right-wing Israeli governments, poor leadership or weak or uninterested U.S. presidents. But the real reason for failure lie beyond these factors.

It is because the parties should not have started negotiating in the first place.

To demand that Palestinians – living under Israeli military rule – negotiate with their occupier and oppressor is akin to demanding that a hostage negotiate with their hostage taker. It is repugnant that the world demands that Palestinians negotiate their freedom, while Israel continues to steal Palestinian land. Instead, Israel should have faced sanctions for continuing to deny Palestinians their freedom while building illegal settlements.

Twenty-five years later, rather than living the joys of freedom, we mark each day, by thinking about how to maneuver the maze of Israel’s more than 500 checkpoints, put in place to accommodate Israeli settlements, just to be able to get to work or to school. A 25 year-old in the West Bank has likely never been able to visit the sea – a few miles away – while a 25 year-old in Gaza has never been able to leave the Gaza Strip, to visit friends and family in the West Bank and Jerusalem or even abroad…

IIf peace is to be achieved, it must entail costs – and this time, not shouldered by the Palestinians. Rather, Israel must receive the strong message, the first in its history, that settlements will no longer be tolerated but rather reversed, and that Palestinians must be free.

For Israel and its supporters, the past 25 years have been a victory. With Trump at the helm, Israel’s settlers are at an all-time high, Palestinians are confined to bantustans and the U.S. is cracking down on Palestinians for demanding their freedom.

But this short-term fix has long-term implications. While Oslo changed the lives of a generation of Palestinians, this generation and the next have certainly learned its lessons: that negotiating is futile, and that our rights cannot be compromised. With this, it is only a matter of time before we begin struggling for equal rights in a single state, rather than press for statehood.