Lessons Learned from the Oslo Accords

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Today, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approves new settlements in the West Bank, and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas succeeds in his pursuit for recognition at the United Nations, Israelis and Palestinians seem further apart than ever before.

Yet twenty years ago this month, Palestinians and Israelis managed to come together in secret talks that concluded with the Oslo Accords the following September. The Oslo peace process marked a dramatic shift in Arab-Israeli relations. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to exchange land, in parts of the West Bank and Gaza, for peace, while Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat agreed to formally recognize the state of Israel and to renounce terrorism. 

Ron Pundak served as chief negotiator for Israel throughout the Oslo peace process. He says that when talks began in December 1992, Israelis and Palestinians "never thought it would take so long, or that the hurdles would be so huge."

Oslo was a watershed moment for both sides, Dr. Pundak says. "After more than 100 years of conflict between two national movements, the Zionist movement and the Palestinian movement, which looked at the other side as nothing, and worked on a zero-sum game, Oslo created, for the first time, a mutual recognition of two political movements, saying to each other, 'We recognize the other.'"

Today, Dr. Pundak says that Israelis and Palestinians believe that a two-state solution, as described in the Oslo Accords, is the best course for both nations, but a lack of trust prevents both sides from reaching that conclusion together. 

"So, from my point of view," Dr. Pundak explains, "the only sort of vehicle…out of this situation currently should be the third party… I would like to see a much more involved American administration leading us, eventually, to start negotiating thoroughly on [a] final status."


Ron Pundak

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [5]

Jean-Pierre Katz

When the Palestinians first considered talks they had a PLO figure on a talk show allowing questions. I asked the official representative if the PLO would agree to Israeli sovereignty of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. He said yes but not to the Armenian Quarter.

At that time, I thought that peace was possible between the PLO and Israel.

But a lot has changed since then.

The take over of Gaza by Hamas has made the issue of peace between the PA and Israel moot.

Even if 100% of West Bank Palestinians were for living in peace with Israel, you cannot have a de-facto state of war with Gaza and peace with the
West Bank.

In fact, the opposite is true now. Most Palestinians in the West Bank support Hamas. The PA has not had an election in years and has no legitimacy.

With Egypt now a Muslim Brotherhood state. It's peace with Israel is in name only. In essence it is really in a state of cold war with Israel not peace. It will do anything it can to destroy the State of Israel, including military actions. It is the pipeline for all the rockets fired from Gaza.

Syria and Jordan may soon follow in Egypt's Islamic takeover.

So the PA is not viable even if it were offered the Olmert or Barack concessions that they wish to pocket and negotiate from.

Those who advocate any concessions to the PA now must realize that it is like throwing money down the drain.

Dec. 17 2012 02:16 PM
Elaine from usa

Here is someone who is frozen in the past and hasn't learned from what has transpired SINCE Oslo. The Middle East is a more dangerous neigborhood with the emergence of radical Islamists surrounding Israel and the Iranian threat. In case Mr. Pundak has forgotten, Olmert & Barak had made generous offers that were rejected. Yet another missed opportunity by the Palestinians.

Dec. 06 2012 03:59 PM
livia shagam from new jersey

I am an average Israeli. Ron Pundak does not speak for me. He and his ilk are a large part of the problem we have in Israel. Self-hating Jews are a big problem the world over. Peace! It will never happen and Obama as a peacebroker, forget about it. As the late Golda Meir once said:
Peace will come about when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us (Israel). That about says it for me.

Dec. 06 2012 03:50 PM

This repetitive moral equivalency narrative is asinine.
Oslo ignored the history of Arafat twenty years before and now many ignore the history 20 years after Oslo as they compulsively project noble aspirations onto the Palestinians and are shocked when it constantly ends in tears. The Palestinian leadership from the Grand Mufti to today are not interested in being a respectable nation living in peace with Israel. Tragic but true.

Asking Americans to be honest peace brokers also ignores the last 70 years of history of the Palestinian leadership supporting every enemy the United States has had from Hitler to today while ignoring our political and cultural friendship with Israel.

How many times must we turn reality on it's head and expect a positive result?

Dec. 06 2012 09:46 AM
Ed from Larchmont

They are saying that the change in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood puts the Camp David accords in jeopardy.

Dec. 06 2012 08:08 AM

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