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Opinion: The Oslo Accords and Historical Revisionism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture taken on September 13, 1993 shows US President Bill Clinton (C) standing between PLO leader Yasser Arafat (R) as he shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin after signing a historic agreement on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. (AFP”)

The majority of those who have written about the Oslo Accords—whose 20th anniversary went largely unacknowledged last week—are of the view that the agreement is dead, but not yet buried.

They are justified in their view that the agreement has been dead for a long time, but they are wrong to blame its failure entirely on Israel’s actions. There are many saboteurs of the Oslo Accords including: Saddam Hussein, Hafez Al-Assad, his successor Bashar Al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi, Iran’s mullahs, and finally Hezbollah, the group that, for decades, has deceptively presented itself to the Arabs as the primary force of resistance against Israel.

The agreement itself was not a dismal failure, but rather a milestone in acknowledging the 50 year struggle of the Palestinians. It also validated the pressure exerted by the international community in supporting the rights of the Palestinians, or so it was thought. Israel was obligated to accept the agreement, which caused uproar among the Israeli public who judged the signing a treacherous act that empowered the Palestinians. Two years later, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in punishment for signing the agreement with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

For Assad and the Iranians it was vital to sabotage the agreement, which they orchestrated indirectly through their Palestinian agents. Palestine, for them, is the goose that lays the golden egg: a conflict in the region that grants them legitimacy. What is Assad’s raison d’être either in Syria or the Arab world? What is Hezbollah’s raison d’être? And what is Hezbollah’s justification for taking over the Lebanese state with their arms? The universal excuse used by all of these actors to vindicate their actions is the defence of the Palestinian Cause.

Even before Oslo, these actors wrestled with the late Arafat and attempted to eradicate him both as a person and as a cause because he refused to be their pawn. They even pitted Palestinian opposition against him, like Ahmad Jibril and Abu Nidal.

The warring of Hafez Al-Assad against the Palestinians was because they were perceived as an obstacle preventing him from controlling Lebanon. He besieged them in their camps and assassinated their leaders. Additionally, in coordination with one of the factions affiliated with him, he planned the assassination attempt against the Israeli ambassador to London in order to grant Ariel Sharon a licence to invade Lebanon. In 1982, Sharon besieged the Lebanese capital, Beirut, drove Arafat out and abolished the Palestinian Liberation Organization. After Arafat was forced out, Hezbollah, Iran’s armed proxy, raised the slogan of Palestine to establish legitimacy.

The Oslo Accords attempted to promote the right for the existence of a Palestinian state in the occupied lands of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Yet Syria, Iran, and Gaddafi, at different times, funded operations aiming to wreck the agreement and obstruct the Palestinians’ return from exile in Tunisia to the West Bank and Gaza. Premeditated suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets were conducted to damage the agreement. These three actors cooperated with extremist Israelis to undermine the internationally supported Oslo Accords that aimed to establish a Palestinian state.

Yes, Oslo the agreement is, in substance, dead. Its orphans, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, do not have the power to revive it. Iran and the Assad regime succeeded in trapping the Palestinians in the current state of affairs in which they hold minimal bargaining power. This is compared to the bargaining evidenced by Arafat in his agreement with Rabin and Clinton 20 years ago. During the two decades of Assad-Iranian sponsored terrorism against the agreement, these supposed heroes of resistance never submitted an alternative roadmap. Neither did they confront Israel, nor support the Palestinians.

This is an accurate summary of the history of the Oslo Accords and not the misconstrued version that they have taught to us for generations. This is just one chapter of a long-forged history, assisted by the propaganda of several regimes, now facing revolt from their own people.