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Oslo's lessons
[Daily Edition]
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: NEILL LOCHERY
Date: May 12, 2002
Start Page: 06
Section: Opinion
Abstract (Document Summary)

There are currently two schools of thought about the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords. First, that the Palestinians and Arafat didn't want peace and duped the Israelis. There is growing evidence to suggest that this was the case. The second is that the technical failings of the Oslo Accords were so great that they never provided any real chance for peace to take root. My argument concentrates on the latter, and suggests that the Accords were so flawed that Arafat's own personal motives and actions were of secondary importance in determining the outcome of the 10-year process.

Interim staged agreements: In theory, the idea of interim stages held several advantages for both sides. It postponed difficult compromises and provided time for both sides to develop support for the deal at home. In practice, however, the interim stages provided the groups that opposed the accords, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, ample opportunity to derail the process through suicide bomb attacks against Israeli cities. Thus the interim stages actually weakened the prospects for peace. The terrorist attacks damaged the level of support for the Oslo Accords in Israeli society and brought about a strong economic and security response from the Israelis, such as closure of the borders between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which damaged the already weak Palestinian economy.

Opponents of peace: In retrospect, more careful consideration should have been given to methods for dealing with the rejectionist groups that resorted to violent attacks. A major charge against the Oslo Accords by the Israeli Right was that successive Israeli governments had to leave the job of preventing such attacks to Palestinian Authority forces, an approach that clearly did not work. All Israeli governments since 1993 have accused Yasser Arafat of not doing enough to dismantle the infrastructure of such groups, and Israeli military action in the past few weeks - especially the surrounding of Arafat's compound in Ramallah - is a direct consequence of this failure.

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