Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Is the Peace Process a Process for Peace? A Retrospective Analysis of Oslo

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Is the Peace Process a Process for Peace? A Retrospective Analysis of Oslo

Article excerpt


Oslo is not presently a process for peace; Oslo is a process for agreements which are creating volatile conditions on the ground. Nonetheless, Oslo may lead to peace based on principles different from those found in the September 1993 Declaration of Principles and the agreements and protocols derived therefrom. That is, the conditions produced by Oslo will force a new process over time to emerge that will lead to a resolution of the problem in ways unanticipated by Oslo.

The analysis which follows is premised on the belief that a viable peace is desired, and that therefore a different peace process must emerge to effect this. It is further premised on the acceptance of the fact that both Israelis and Palestinians feel, claim and understand with absolute conviction that they have national rights to sovereign statehood in Israel/Palestine. Indeed, both rights have been recognized internationally, although, as developed herein, the Oslo process is eroding the Palestinian legal claim to sovereign statehood.

The historical context of the actual nature of the conflict is revisited, and it will include an examination of the various proposals offered since 1967, allegedly to resolve the conflict. This is done not to go over old ground, but rather to refocus attention on the existential and essential contours of the problem. At present, there is a tendency to view Oslo-induced agreements in a vacuum while elucidating their particulars as though they were victories for real peace. Only the thread of history can expose the contemporary tragedy produced by the Oslo process. That thread is defined by two words: removal [or disposal] and reassertion. That is, the Zionist movement has sought to remove Palestinians physically and legally from national claims to Palestine, and the Palestinians have sought to reassert their internationally recognized claims. Over time, and as a result of Oslo, it appears that the Zionists are close to their goal. Conversely, the Palestinians appear to have sustained a fatal blow to their right to national reassertion. In the end, and after more turmoil and struggle, a whole new dynamic may develop that will challenge the "appearances."


Zionist Expansion into All of Palestine

Once the Zionist movement fixed on Palestine as the location to establish a Jewish state as a solution to European anti-Semitism, it had to deal with three problems:

1. how to establish itself on the land legitimately and expand into all of Palestine,

2. how to remove or significantly reduce the majority Palestinian Arab population indigenous to Palestine; and

3. how to ensure absorption of dispersed Palestinians elsewhere in the Arab World so as to eliminate Palestinian claims to Palestine.

What follows chronicles and analyzes how Israel has tried to deal with these three problems, and how the latter two - demography and diaspora - have plagued Israeli efforts to complete full and unchallenged political sovereignty over Palestine. It also chronicles and analyzes Palestinian responses and efforts at national reassertion.

Establishing Itself on the Land. The 1917 Balfour Declaration gave an opening to initiate solution of the first problem, and culminated later in the 1948 Zionist Declaration of Independence. With the Balfour Declaration in hand, the Zionist movement presented a map in 1919 to the Paris Peace Conference defining Israel, a slimmed down version of various maps of "Eretz Israel." Beyond getting a foothold in the area, the problem was how to fill out that map which covered all of Palestine, southern Lebanon up to Sidon, the southern Biqa' valley, including the Litani River waters, the Hawran Plain of Syria which encompassed the Golan Heights and the headwaters of the Jordan River, and part of Jordan east of the river bordering the outskirts of Amman, Maan and Aqaba. In what follows, I will focus only on Palestine which Israel succeeded in completely occupying after the 1967 war. …

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