Israel and Palestine: Legendary shakehand of sworn enemies
Is it possible to agree on anything if the interests are very far apart? Twenty years ago, on September 13, 1993 in Norway agreements were signed initiating the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. It was in Oslo where the first serious attempt to negotiate a peaceful coexistence was made.
The decisions made in September of 1993 were largely of interim nature. Five years was allocated for the finalization of the peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. However, the 21st century has not brought peace to the Holy Land.
In the early 1990s, Washington has taken a number of serious diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Young and ambitious U.S. President Bill Clinton has made significant concessions to Jerusalem Palestinians. Elected in 1992, Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin decided to put an end to the war that lasted for five years, since 1987, when the first intifada, a Palestinian uprising in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of Jordan, was announced.
Over 20,000 people fell victims to numerous clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. Norwegian agreements provided for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The foundation was laid for the future peaceful coexistence of two states - Israel and Palestine. PLO leader Yasser Arafat who has long led the underground struggle against Israel headed the administration of the PA.
Finally, the leadership of the PLO agreed to recognize Israel, which made the negotiators more optimistic. The following year, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for signing the Oslo Accords. However, the hardest times were yet to come. A full peace treaty required a clear resolution of the territorial issue. Israel kept sector "C" under its control, including part of the occupied Palestinian lands.
After Oslo, the parties have sought to negotiate peace on numerous occasions, but the attempts to reach a compromise on the issue of the occupied territories have failed. Meanwhile, the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank began in 1967, shortly after the "Six Day War." Over the years, the Israelis have built 121 settlements in the region. The U.S. and EU have repeatedly denounced the settlement construction by the government of Israel.
In any event, the Oslo agreement almost immediately caused a growing frustration among politicians, both in Israel and in Palestine. The supporters of Israeli right-wing parties considered the agreement of 1993 a betrayal of the national interests. Meanwhile, there was an increase of extremism in the Gaza Strip. Many radical groups have refused to accept the Oslo Accords and began conducting terrorist attacks in Israel.
On November 4, 1995 something that was least expected by ordinary Israeli citizens has happened. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by a Jewish ultra-religious extremist. Hopes for peace became more elusive.
In 1996 Binyamin Netanyahu came to power and began pursuing a tougher policy toward the Palestinians. However, there was no intention to revise the Oslo peace accords. The withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank continued until the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada. Another attempt to reach an agreement was made at Camp David. But the Israelites were not ready to make such painful concessions to Arafat who insisted on handing over the East Jerusalem to Palestinians. The tension in the Gaza Strip has dramatically increased. The beginning of a new intifada was only a matter of time.
In the 20 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords the war has killed 1,500 Israelis and 7,500 Palestinians. It changed the entire nature of warfare. Gaza Strip terrorists very rarely commit acts of terrorism in Israel these days. Due to the construction of the security fence a massive infiltration of suicide bombers was prevented. However, the missile capabilities of the Palestinian groups allow them to fire not only at Sderot, but also cities likes Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon.
Today, Israel and Palestine, like twenty years ago, are at a crossroads. Direct negotiations with the mediation of the United States continue, but talks about reaching at least some compromise are premature. The Netanyahu government makes a nice gesture and releases dangerous Palestinian terrorists. But no decision on the issue of the disputed territories has been made. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas intends to seek Israel's return to the 1967 borders.
Jerusalem rules out the possibility of such large-scale concessions to the Palestinians. Netanyahu continues to persist and build settlements. The events in Syria are unlikely to contribute to the quick settlement of the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Incidentally, Hamas does not participate in any negotiations, and no one knows what the group will do in the event of their success or failure. Everyone in the Middle East is preparing for a war, and it would be naive to think that Palestinian terrorists will sit on their hands. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains difficult to resolve given the constant interference of third parties in the processes ongoing in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and Syria. But in any case, negotiations are better than shooting and bombing.