The National / September 12, 2023
On 30th anniversary of signing, Yossi Beilin says agreement has lost true meaning having been ‘abused’ by Israel.
The Oslo Accords should be scrapped because the past 30 years have proved they are a failure, a key architect of the historic peace deal has said.
Yossi Beilin suggested the twin pacts between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had lost their true meaning and been “abused” by Israel.
Dutch diplomat and former peace negotiator Robert Serry said it was “remarkable” to hear one of the masterminds of the Oslo Accords speak about their legacy with such dismay.
Backing Beilin’s call for the agreement to be torn up, he argued a new approach to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was needed for a positive outcome to be achieved.
The comments came during an online discussion hosted by London-based think tank Chatham House on Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords.
“Let us stop it,” Beilin told the audience.
“We never thought that it would be for 30 years and that we would mark the 30th year of Oslo. It’s not a success. It’s a failure because we cannot get to a permanent agreement.
“We are dragging it and dragging it. It’s being abused by those who don’t want a permanent agreement and prefer the zero-sum game.
“I think the best thing which [should] happen to Oslo is to kill it.”
Beilin has previously served in several positions in the Israeli government and was deputy foreign minister in 1993 when PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, and the Israeli prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, sign the deal. Their historic handshake on the White House lawn as then-US president Bill Clinton looked on was seen as a major breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
But three decades on, both sides remain locked in a conflict that seems never-ending.
Beilin said people on all sides, including right-wing politicians in Israel, Hamas and many supporters of Fatah – formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement – consider the Oslo Accords “a mistake and a disaster”.
He said it would be better if Israel “got back to the status of occupier”, whereby it would be responsible to pay for the Palestinian budget and sort out education and other services in the occupied territories.
Serry said the agreement had been “manipulated by successive right-wing governments” in Israel and suggested the signing had prompted Europe to become less engaged in the [so-called] Middle East peace process.
“We [have] left it mainly since Oslo to the Americans,” he said. “The Europeans took a back seat.”
He stressed that a new paradigm was needed for a two-state solution to materialize.
“We cannot go on in the way that we are looking at the problem,” Serry said.
Dalal Iriqat, a lecturer at the Arab American University in Palestine, told the audience the Oslo Accords had given the false impression that Israel and the Palestinians had been engaged in peace talks for the past 30 years.
She pointed out the last serious bilateral discussions held between the two sides, apart from over security co-ordination, was in 2012.
Only a solution to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories that gives her people a right to self-determination can be considered a goal, she said.
Dr Iriqat said Palestinian communities in the West Bank were being increasingly targeted by “extreme settler terrorism”.
The international community should make recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state the first step on the road towards a two-state solution, she said.
Laura O’Callaghan is the political correspondent covering Westminster politics