Israel P.L.O. Peace Treaty Essay

3472 words - 14 pages

The Middle East has always been known as the Holy Land, the land of the Bible. For centuries, prophets have walked there, nations have collided and conquerors have come and gone. While Jews claim a three thousand-year-old attachment to this ancient land, Arabs also stake their devotion. In 1993, these two peoples, involved in a tragic conflict that has lasted more than half a century, saw the possibility of a new beginning. It was called the Oslo Accord, and it transformed the political realities of the Middle East (Peres, p.2) However, there have been many turbulent events that have followed the signing of the Accord, events that have undermined the agreement and are threatening to drive ...view middle of the document...

Israelis were also growing tired of their roles as occupiers, as soldiers trained to defend their country in war were finding themselves aiming their weapons at rock throwing teenagers. Many Israelis were disillusioned and desperately eager for a solution. When the United States and Russia initiated talks in Madrid and Washington at the end of the Cold War, it seemed that peace was attainable. But the talks quickly broke down as dogmatic assertions and old accusations were repeated. (Finkelstein, p. 14-15)
In June 1992, the Labour government was elected in Israel on a platform of peace and change. At its head was Yitzhak Rabin, former military chief of staff. His move from the battlefield to the negotiation table was a historical moment in the life of Israel. Madrid had failed because Israeli and United States delegates refused to deal with the PLO. But Rabin and foreign minister Peres, unlike their predecessors, were willing to pursue new avenues for peace. The way was now paved for one of the most intriguing diplomatic accords of recent years, the Oslo Agreement. It was now clear that direct dialogue was needed between the PLO and Israel. (Peres, p. 12)
Secret talks were arranged between the two sides in Norway starting in January 1993. However, one key matter held up the talks, that being the Israeli ban on contact with the PLO. When the Israeli Knesset repealed this, the way to Oslo was open. Talks took place between January and May of 1993. As talks continued, complications arose, notably Israel’s insistence that it retain control of West Bank security. However, as trust grew, both sides compromised as they moved towards reconciliation and mutual recognition. After eight months of negotiations, an agreement of principles was signed secretly in Oslo. The declaration of principles bound Israel and the Palestinians to a five-year interim agreement. Power over Gaza and Jericho would be transferred to the Palestinians, economic programs would be developed and a new port built. Resolution of the harder questions such as Jerusalem would be left for a permanent status agreement to be concluded within five years. (“Days of Reckoning”, p. 34-35)
On September 13, 1993, Rabin and Arafat met on the lawns of the White House to sign a declaration of peace. The negotiations that had started in such secrecy were now confirmed before the world. The Oslo Agreement and the remarkable handshake of Rabin with Arafat symbolized a New Hope and feeling of mutual trust. For the accord to succeed that trust would have to be defended and shared by the Israeli and Palestinian people. In the months that followed, there was a sense of anticipation. Israel had ruled Gaza for three decades, but Oslo brought that occupation to an end. The events of the year also brought a host of unexpected benefits for the Israelis. The Arab economic boycott, which had lasted forty years, was suspended, and the...

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