Understanding Oslo is crucial for moving forward

Miko Peled

Mondoweiss  /  September 14, 2023

All these decades after Oslo, we should recognize that there is no solution without the full liberation of Palestine. Oslo has become the litmus test for how sincere one is about the liberation of Palestine.

The “Oslo Accords” are a personal matter for me, and here is why. From the moment the 1967 war ended, my father — who was one of the architects and executors of the war — dedicated his life to the two-state solution. The Oslo Accords were expected by many to be the first step in the direction of it becoming a reality. Clearly, those who believed that it would be were sorely mistaken.

My father’s enthusiasm — and, by default, my own — peaked when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. It was done in front of the whole world. I recall my father — then a retired Israeli army general and professor of Arabic literature — who published a column in the Israeli paper Ma’ariv, writing that Rabin had “Crossed the Rubicon.” In other words, the Israeli establishment that had never been willing to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination had now done so. That was how it seemed at first.

As the process was being prolonged and Israel was dragging its feet in implementing the steps that were laid out in the accords, my father changed his tone, as did others. Before my father died in March of 1995, he said in an interview, “Rabin does not want peace.” In November of that same year, Rabin was assassinated. As mentioned earlier, for me, this was all personal. My father’s involvement, Rabin (who we knew well in the family, as he was my father’s comrade-in-arms for many years), the prospect of a peace that would finally show the world that Israel and an independent Palestinian state can exist together — these were all personal matters for me. The last article my father ever wrote was titled, “A Requiem to Oslo,” signaling that the expectation that Israel will allow the Palestinians any semblance of independence was already dead.Onderkant formulier

One by one, they all died, and today I, along with many others, realize that the Oslo Accords were meant to deepen Israeli control of Palestine and its people while allowing Israel to look good. Those who did not realize it then should know today without a doubt that Rabin was an unrepentant war criminal and that he never intended to allow Palestinians to enjoy the right to self-determination in any meaningful way. The entire concept of the two-state solution was a scam.

By the end of the year 2000, after the disingenuous attempts by Bill Clinton to bring the “peace process” to an end, the entire thing had collapsed. I say disingenuous because Clinton was working for Israel, not for a solution. The Palestinians were humiliated, living under a brutal regime of apartheid, pressured to accept unacceptable terms, and when the so-called “peace-summit” fell apart, Clinton blamed Yasser Arafat for not being flexible enough. 

I vividly remember the moment when Bill Clinton made that statement. I remember thinking that Yasser Arafat — who by then had given up on the dream of a free Palestine and was willing to negotiate with the criminals who stole his country and murdered his people — was being accused of not giving enough! This was because he did not give up on Jerusalem and demanded clear, minimal boundaries for the proposed Palestinian state. There is the myth of the “generous offers” made by Israel, but as it turns out, Israel never presented a single offer.

In hindsight, everything looks different. When people talk about the “failure” of the Oslo Accords, I have to disagree. These Accords accomplish their objectives with great success. Today, Israel has tighter control over Palestine and its people than ever before. At the same time, Israel is seen as a peace-loving country that offered an olive branch and got nothing but “terrorism” in return. All Israel had to do to achieve this was to enrich a few corrupt Palestinians. 

The Palestinian Authority also comes in as useful when discussions come up about normalizing relations with Israel. Countries that have not yet normalized, like Indonesia, for example, look at the Palestinian Authority representatives as agents for Israel who smooth the way for normalization. 

The recognition that the Oslo process, like the two-state solution, was a scam is crucial to our ability to move forward. A question that needs to be asked is why is it that whenever the United States decides to intervene in the so-called peace issue, they bring back the old guard who was in charge of the Oslo process. Oslo is a golden key; it allows the conversation to go back to Israel, reaching out for peace and getting rockets in return.

Oslo and the two-state solution act as a sort of litmus test for how sincere someone is about the liberation of Palestine. People will often say to me, “I agree with you ninety-five percent!” That is an interesting comment. What constitutes that final five percent? That is the leap from Oslo and the two-state solution to a full recognition that the Palestinians were wronged — that Jewish people had no business coming to colonize Palestine, and that enough Palestinian blood was shed.  

All these decades after Oslo, we should be at a place where we recognize that there is no solution without the full liberation of Palestine. That means dismantling the Zionist state and transforming Palestine into a democracy with full equal rights, and it means putting in place mechanisms to implement the return of the Palestinian refugees. This might not be an exhaustive list, but it has the elements without which we will be stuck with apartheid and violence for the foreseeable future.

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in Washington, DC.; he was born in Jerusalem to a prominent Zionist Israeli family, and in 2012 he published his first book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine