IN case you hadn’t noticed, we have just commemorated the 25th anniversary of the signing of the first of two so-called “Oslo Accords”.
The document in question was signed — by PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — in Washington with a follow-up being concluded in Taba, Egypt, two years later.
They are called “Oslo Accords” because of the pivotal role played in their drafting by a group of busybodies emanating from Norway’s ministry of foreign affairs.
Briefly, together with some additional agreements concluded at various dates between 1993 and 2005, they are said by some to have ushered in a so-called “peace process” based on what is commonly termed “the two-state solution”.
In fact, there is no meaningful “peace process” and the “two-state solution” — so beloved of the British Foreign Office — is as dead as the dodo.
What were the Oslo Accords supposed to have achieved?
Top of the list was the creation of a “Palestinian Authority” as the recognised provisional government of a Palestinian state.
In Area A of the West Bank, the Palestinians were given full control. In Area B, the Palestinians were to be in charge of civilian matters, with Israel responsible for security.
And in Area C — where most Jewish West Bank settlements are located — there is full Israeli control. A “protocol” concluded in Paris in 1994 created a customs union between Israel and territories under PA control, and addressed matters of detail relating to imports and exports from the West Bank and Gaza.
What’s important — apart from the fact that the PA lost control of Gaza to the unashamedly antisemitic Hamas movement — is what the Oslo Accords left unsaid.
The Accords were, for the most part, silent on the so-called “Right of Return”, which Palestinian Arabs claim entitles all so-called Palestinian “refugees” to return to areas of Israel from which — so they allege — they were dispossessed in 1948-49.
The likelihood of any Israeli government ever agreeing to this is virtually nil. But Oslo side-stepped the issue.
Then there’s Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim — at a minimum — that East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its Jewish Quarter should be the capital of a Palestinian state.
The likelihood of any Israeli government ever agreeing to this is, again. virtually nil. But Oslo side-stepped this issue too.
Whatever one may think of American president Donald Trump, he has not been afraid to confront both these fundamental matters. In recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and redeeming his promise to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv, he has to all intents and purposes taken Jerusalem off the peace-process agenda.
And in terminating American-taxpayer funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine — UNRWA — he has signalled that UNRWA’s preposterous claim that there are millions of Palestinian “refugees” is at an end.
There are, in fact, about 30,000 genuine refugees, not the millions (which apparently include male but — interestingly — not female descendants of refugees) that UNRWA is fond of bandying about.
It would be perfectly possible for these 30,000 refugees to be financially compensated in order to bring the “right of return” argument to an end.
But the Palestinian leadership — supported, I may add, by the British government — is adamant that this issue should not be so settled, but should be kept alive.
Why? Because the Palestinian leadership is not interested in peace. It is only interested in victory. What it wants is an outcome in which the Jewish state of Israel will disappear, to be replaced by a Palestinian state in which Jews form a permanent minority.
And to that end, the leadership is adamant that Palestinian afflictions must continue until victory is assured.
Don’t take my word for this. On September 5, the Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid addressed a meeting at the European Union parliament in Brussels.
Reflecting on the fact that the PA had, by threats, prevented Palestinian businessmen from attending a conference with their Israeli counterparts, Mr Eid admitted frankly that “the interest of the Palestinian Authority is how to keep the Palestinians suffering” (this speech was made in English and is available on YouTube).
That is why there is no “peace process.” Indeed, we have it on the authority of no less a person than PA leader Mahmoud Abbas himself — addressing the UN on September 30, 2015 — that the PA no longer considers itself bound by the Oslo agreements.
That is why the “two-state” solution is a complete fantasy.
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