11.19.2012

The Oslo Accord: Charting the Course towards a Two State Solution Nowadays (Palestinian-Israeli Conflict)


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                                          by I Wayan Alit Sudarsana
One of the most successful agreements ever made by Israel and Palestine regarding the conflict between the two countries is the 1993 Oslo Accord and the Geneva Initiative. Many people have been talking about the Oslo accords and the Geneva Initiative. Many people also believed that the two state solutions is the best solution for the conflict. The signatories of the Geneva Initiative, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, believe that "the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of two-states.".

The Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts are modern and secular in origin. They first appeared at the end of the nineteenth century as a response to the emergence of Zionism in Eastern Europe. Zionism; the Jewish national movement, strove to establish a Jewish presence in Palestine as the forerunner to an ultimate Jewish state. Palestinian and other Arabs, Christian as well as Muslim, opposed this movement not because of Jewish immigration per se, but because by 1914 the political goals of Zionist clearly included removal of Arabs from Palestine.[1]
 
The two-state solution refers to the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict currently under discussion, which calls for “tow states for two peoples”. The two states solution envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. The main point on which the two-state solution formula differs from those for an independent Palestinian state is that it calls for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To achieve a two-state solution, a number of core issues must be resolved, including the borders of the Palestinian state, the citizenship of the new Palestinian state, the status of Palestinian refugees outside the final borders, and the status of Arab citizens of present-day Israel, besides the future of East Jerusalem.[2]

Palestinian and Israelis conflict has been one of the most important issues in the Middle East. The conflict began to draw international attention when Palestinian and Israelis could not handle the conflict. 

Issues relating to the state of Israel, the Palestinian people and other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict occupy a large amount of debate time, resolutions and resources at the United Nations. Since its founding in 1948, the United Nations Security Council, as of January 2010, has passed 79 resolutions directly critical of Israel for violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Convention, International terrorism, or other violations of international law. Lebanon is the subject of 15 Israeli violations of UNSC resolutions, including resolutions condemning the use of military force, condemning the violations of cease-fire agreements,       and demanding withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. 

Looking back to the 1947, people will find that the idea of partitioning Jewish and Arab states was enshrined in a 1947 U.N. General Assembly Resolution, No. 181, which set the stage for Israel’s declaration of independence the following year. 

This resolution originally was a plan. The Plan was described as a Plan of Partition with Economic Union which, after the termination of the British Mandate, would lead to the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan as Resolution 181(II). [3]

Part I of the Plan contained provisions dealing with the Termination of the Mandate, Partition and Independence. The Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible and the United Kingdom would withdraw from Palestine no later than the previously announced date of 1 August 1948. The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal, but no later than 1 October 1948. The Plan sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements: Arab nationalism and Jewish nationalism (Zionism). Part II of the Plan included a detailed description of the proposed boundaries for each state. The Plan also called for Economic Union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.

The Plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. The Plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community, including the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, who were supported in their rejection by the states of the Arab League. The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) opposed partition and claimed all of Palestine. The Arabs argued that it violated the rights of the majority of the people in Palestine, which at the time was 65% non-Jewish (1,200,000) and 35% Jewish (650,000). [4]

But, unfortunately the partition eventually could not solve the problem. This lead to what seems to be the most successful agreement between these two countries, The Oslo Accords of 1993.
The Oslo Accords of 1993 was the first legal instrument promising the two-state solution. It envisaged the creation of a Palestinian state in the one-fifth of the former colony of Palestine that did not end up under Israeli rule after the war of 1948. That Palestinian mini-state, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, would live alongside Israel in peace, and the long, bitter struggle over Palestine would end happily. 

That Palestinian state is no longer a viable possibility, mainly because there are now half a million Jewish settlers living among the 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and former East Jerusalem.
During July and August both sides, but especially the Palestinian, tried to gain advantages by reformulating clauses or adding new ones to those that had already been agreed upon. The Palestinian insisted that the PLO be given authority not just over Jericho and Gaza Strip but over the bridges across the Jordan and the Rafa crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt – effectively, control over entry and exit from the Strip and West Bank. They also demanded extraterritorial road and air corridors between the Strip and Jericho. The Israelis tried to whittle down their initial commitments regarding troop withdrawal. In this case, The Norwegians played an important role in mediating, bridging, and smoothing ruffled feathers.[5]

In mid-July the Israelis pulled out a trump card: agreement, on certain conditions, to a long standing PLO demand for mutual recognition. An indirect exchange of letters – Rabin to Arafat, July 19, and Arafat to Rabin, August 4 – also helped break the impasse and clarify a number of issues. The main subject was the nature of Israeli and Palestinian jurisdiction in and authority over Gaza-Jericho and other West Bank areas. Arafat expressed willingness to exclude Jerusalem from the Palestinian self-rule area in the interim settlement – but linked this concession to Israeli agreement on mutual recognition. [6]

What was the breakthrough in Oslo? In fact it was twofold: there was the historic mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO; but this was made possible only by the other breakthrough, separation between interim and permanent settlement and the implementation of some interim measures on the ground even before elections to the Palestinian self-governing Council. [7]

There is something else that worth mentioning happened in Oslo. Since the start of negotiations over autonomy with Egypt, it had been understood that the period of self-rule would begin after elections to the Palestinian Council. When it emerged in Washington just how hard it was going to be to reach agreement on procedures for the election – international supervision, voting rights of East Jerusalem’s Arabs, the number of deputies to be elected, the question whether this was to be legislative or executive body – and indefinitely, the idea was raised of transferring powers to the Palestinian before the election, including the establishment of Palestinian police force. Even in Oslo the central question of electoral procedure were not solved, leading us to wonder whether the Palestinians were as interested in elections as they claimed, but then a scenario in which the interim settlement was no longer dependent on elections created; so that, whether elections were held or not, negotiations on the permanent settlement had to begin no later than two years after the implementation of “Gaza-Jericho”. The moment that elections ceased to be a condition for determining the permanent settlement, negotiating on them, which began at a later stage, actually became much easier.[8]

As explained by Yossi Beillin[9], at that time, as prime minister, Rabin authorized the continuation of contacts in the Oslo track, and supported the idea of mutual recognition. Without him, the Oslo concept would have become just another instance of missed opportunity, and since there have been so many of these in the Middle East, this one might not even have merited a footnote. He was the “here of Oslo”, not because he conceived the idea, nor because he was enthusiastic about it, but because – neither of these being the case – it was nevertheless he who took responsibility for the decision and for what signing of the agreement and his handshake with Arafat to the bullets fired at him by Yigal Amir. [10]

However, nowadays, the greatest triumph of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, has been to make the two-state solution impossible. Both men pretended to accept the Oslo Accords in order to ward off foreign pressure on Israel, but both worked hard and successfully to sabotage them by more than tripling the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank in just 20 years. 

In individual level, the theory of the two states solution faces a situation when the parties itself are divided in whether or not to support this proposal. At the beginning there are two individuals who play a major role in determining the two-state solution at the time of the Oslo Accord took place, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. Unfortunately after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin there is seems to be no progress regarding the implementation of the agreement. In the meantime, however, there are two individual who will now determine the continuation of the agreement. They are Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, in a June 14, 2009 transcript titled "Address by PM Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University," available at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, offered the following:

"In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.  Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities - our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it - have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us... If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state."

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in an Oct. 21, 2005 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Online NewsHour interview transcript titled "Newsmaker: Mahmoud Abbas," available at the PBS website, stated the following:

"I believe that the road map [two-state solution proposed by the Quartet: European Union, United Nations, United States, and Russia] is the international - the only international reference that is available now to resolve the Middle East question and the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. It contains everything in order to solve this question right from the beginning to the end including the Palestinians' independent state. I belive that we are - after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we should go back to this plan so that we can implement it to arrive at what President Bush had announced in his initiative to establish the independent Palestinian state, which is viable, contiguous, live side-by-side with the state of Israel."

In an interview, Abbas appeared to reject the right of return for Palestinian refugees, saying that although he is a refugee from Safed, he does not intend to return to the city as a resident. “Palestine for me is the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, this is Palestine, I am a refugee, I live in Ramallah, the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine, everything else is Israel.”

President Shimon Peres praised Abbas’s statements. ”His brave words prove that Abu Mazen (Abbas) is a real partner for peace,” Peres said. “Abbas’ statements should be taken seriously,” he said. “They are in line with the positions of most Israelis, who support the two-state solution.”

But Netanyahu, who is a shoe-in for an upcoming reelection, is unlikely to accept Abbas’s support for a two-state solution, one which adheres to an overwhelming international consensus. Netanyahu’s Likud Party Charter declares Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza as “the realization of Zionist values” and describes the whole of the West Bank and Jerusalem as belonging to Israel.[11]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of single-handedly torpedoing peacemaking efforts by avoiding direct negotiations based on a two-solution solution.

“I’m seeing how Netanyahu is now ruining the two-state solution. It must be made clear that no Palestinian will agree to the solution of one state for two peoples,” Abbas said, according to an exclusive interview with the Israeli Yedioth Ahronot[12] daily.

Abbas further charged that Israel’s leadership is intentionally avoiding resuming negotiations. “I don’t understand what is happening on your side. On the one hand, I read polls that say 70 percent of Israelis want peace with us. On the other hand, I’m being told that the Palestinian issue is not even on the agenda of (Israeli) political parties,” the Palestinian leader said.

U.S.-led peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were last held in Washington in September 2010, and quickly broke down following Israel’s refusal to heed the Palestinians’ demand to extend a self-imposed 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

Netanyahu, for his part, has since called on the Palestinians to renew negotiations without preconditions, citing their refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the main stumbling block to attaining peace.

Asked to assess the consequences of a continued stalemate in the peace process, the Palestinian leader warned that “it will be bad.”[13]
So, what we have been seen this past few years is simply about conflict of interest between people who supposed to make progress in order to end the conflict. While it is nice to believe that Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and harmony in one state, with tolerance for each other and in keeping with democratic principles of inclusion, while nice, is simply naive. This idea has been made impossible by nearly a century of direct conflict between these people. While this might change in coming centuries, it is unacceptable to adopt a one-state policy now based on these naive ideas.
Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009: "Establishing a single multinational country is a tenuous path that does not bode well for peace but, rather, enforces the conflict's perpetuation. Lebanon, ravaged by bloodshed and instability, represents only one of many examples of an undesirable quagmire of this nature." 

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009: "The difficulties of a two-state solution are numerous, but it remains the only realistic and moral formula to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." 

US special envoy George Mitchell: "In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict." 

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009: "The Jewish people want and deserve to live in peace in their rightful, historical homeland. The Palestinian people want and deserve their own land, their own political institutions and their right to self-determination. It is vital that this cause be based on the prospect of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, which translates into cooperation in fields such as the economy, tourism, the environment and defense. Achieving all this will be possible only by granting each people its own state and borders, to enable their citizens to pray according to their faiths, cultivate their cultures, speak their own languages and safeguard their heritages."
"Is the two-state solution in danger?". Haaretz. May 21, 2009: "The left in Israel has long warned that if settlement construction continues and Israel does not separate from the Palestinians, the country will eventually slide into an apartheid-like reality in which a Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority. The result, they contend: the end of a democratic, Jewish state." 

Leon T. Hadar. "Only one solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict". CATO. March 23, 2004: "a bi-national state would only produce an explosive situation in which Jews would dominate the economy and most other aspects of the new state, creating a reality of exploitation. At that point in time, a bi-national state would be a new form of occupation that would only set the conflict on a more violent track." [14]

Clearly, everybody involved in this process has a stake in what happens in the Middle East. If peace is to be given a real chance, we need the people – both Palestinians and Israelis – to start believing in peace and, of course to start assuming ownership and responsibility for the peace process itself. Peace should not be seen merely as an affair of diplomats with briefcase and handshakes before the cameras. Peace is about people living together without conflict. And so far the two-state solution is the best solution we have.


[1] Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab – Israeli Conflict. Boston: Bedford/ST. Martin’s, 2010. Print
[2] Wikipedia. Two-state Solution. 2 Nov. 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-state_solution>.

[3] Wikipedia. United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. 29 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2012. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Partition_Plan_for_Palestine>.


[4] Ibid.


[5] Morris, Benny. Righteous Victim. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.Print

[6] Ibid.
[7] Beilin, Yossi. Touching Peace.  London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999. Print
[8] Ibid.
[9] Dr. Yosef "Yossi" Beilin (Born in Petah Tikva on 12 June 1948) is a left-wing Israeli politician and a former Knesset member, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and Justice Minister, representing both the Labor Party and Meretz-Yachad, of which he served as chairman between 2003 and 2006.
[10] Yigal Amir (Born May 23, 1970) is the Israeli assassin of Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. The assassination took place on November 4, 1995 at the conclusion of a rally in Tel Aviv.
[12] Yedioth Ahronoth is a daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, Israel. Since the 1970s, it has been the most widely circulated paper in Israel.

[13] Nzweek. Abbas accuses Netanyahu of “destroying” two-state solution: Israeli media. 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2012. http://www.nzweek.com/world/-netanyahu-of-destroying-two-state-solution-israeli-media-15482/


[14] Debatepedia. Two state solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.

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4 comments:

  1. ditunggu postingan bermanfaat berikutnya kawan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. conflict of interest will exist everywhere, the only problem, i see in between Israel-Palestine, is Hamas.

    ReplyDelete