On This Day: Israel, Palestinians finalize, sign Oslo I Accord
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On This Day: Israel, Palestinians finalize, sign Oslo I Accord

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August 20, 2021 marks 28 years since the Oslo I Accord was finalized and signed after multiple rounds of intense secret negotiations, in a bid to advance a lasting peace process for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The agreement was signed by then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman Yasser Arafat, and was later followed up with a public signing ceremony in September.

The accord was the result of years of negotiations facilitated by then-US president Bill Clinton, and later followed up in 1995 by the Oslo II Accord.

For their part in signing the agreement, Rabin, Arafat and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres would collectively be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

‘THEIR LEGACY, however, is not only a “peace process” that failed, the Oslo Accords, but a policy which enabled and encouraged enemies dedicated to Israel’s destruction.’ (credit: REUTERS)

The Oslo Accords have been heralded by many as the closest to ever truly solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it had several ramifications. Most notably, it saw the transformation of the PLO into the Palestinian Authority, which was now seen as the legitimate governing body of the Palestinians. The agreement also mandated that Israel recognize the PLO’s new role as the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as mandating the Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

Notably, the accord did not promise Palestinian statehood. However, it did mandate Israel’s eventual intention to withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These were unprecedented at the time and caused considerable controversy on both sides of the political spectrum. This was especially evident on the Right, where many opposed giving up land to the Palestinians, and protesters organized by the then-opposition Likud featured images of Rabin dressed as a Nazi or in a gun’s crosshairs. The most notable result of this was the assassination of Rabin by Yigal Amir, a right-wing extremist who opposed the peace initiative. but also was seen by many as a step in the right direction.

But ultimately, the legacy of the Oslo Accords is not one of peace, as despite years of efforts to build off of this historic moment, nothing concrete ever actually materialized. In fact, many would argue that it only served to make the situation worse.

Most notably, the negotiations eventually culminated in the Camp David Summitt in 2000, where Clinton hosted Arafat and then-prime minister Ehud Barak.

This summit was a failure, with Arafat refusing to agree to anything and later resulting in the violent Second Intifada.

As such, the Oslo Accords is remembered by many for being a failure, despite also being arguably the defining legacy of both Rabin and Peres.

As noted by historian Moshe Dann in a 2018 column for The Jerusalem Post, despite Oslo having been meant to “demonstrate Israel’s strengths in its willingness to make concessions for peace,” Rabin’s and Peres’s legacy “is not only a ‘peace process’ that failed… but a policy which enabled and encouraged enemies dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

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