Oslo Accords and the period 1993-1994

Oslo Accords and the period 1993-1994


The Oslo Accords of 1993 had profound potential for both the Palestinians and the Israelis. This essay examines the underpinnings of the Oslo accords alongside the impact that the process had on the rest of the world. With the evidence illustrating the complex nature of the peace plan, this essay will of use to any researcher looking into the Middle Peace process.

1 Brief history of the Oslo accords

1.1 Introduction

The Middle East has been the source of war and conflict for generations, with leading statesmen and peacemakers from around the world trying to solve the issues. The Oslo accords marked an effort by the Palestinians and the Israelis to come together in order to promote peace and understanding between the struggling factions[1]. With the United States lending their support to the crafting of an inclusive framework, the Oslo Accords were meant to provide a path to peace for the both of the nations. The Oslo Accords made historical changes in the world, including the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, or PNA[2]. This recognition by Israel created a means to justify the self-rule of the Palestinian region. Israel agreed to pull much of its military and civilian population from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As a condition of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Liberation Organization or PLO formally recognized Israel and their right to exist[3]. In turn, the Israelis officially acknowledged that the PLO was the representative of the population of Palestine. This step forward led to the re-patriotism of leaders and the promise of hope for the immediate future. Leadership for the Palestinian organization was headed by Yasser Arafat, long exiled from his homeland by Israel[4]. Israel was represented by Yitzhak Rabin a man known for the capacity to create opportunities out of difficult situations. With the assistance of prominent allies, there was a real concerted effort to create this five year avenue to peace, and bring about a resolution to the long running conflict.

1.2 What this meant for Palestine and Israel

The Oslo Accords created the potential for a breakthrough in the gridlock experienced by Palestine and Israel[5]. On several levels the points in the accords brought both entities into what they perceived as a better position.The accords were made up of several elements, including the withdrawal of the occupying Israeli forces, economic partnership and fundamental regional development[6]. Each of these components was designed to enhance the perception of balance and partnership in order to bring peace to the area. Yet, others credit the Israeli with crafting a policy that allowed them to gradually institute a more personally favourable policy over time[7]. Many international critics cite the uncertain nature of the period allowing the Israeli government to capitalize on the unorganized nature of the PLO leadership[8].

For both Palestine and Israel the Oslo Accords meant a great deal of change and adjustment in order to achieve the best perceived results[9]. Enhanced cooperation created the first element that was meant to bring the parities closer together, yet served to only highlight the deep divisions. Secondarily, Israel would be able to reduce their standing military while nominally retaining judicial authority over the region[10]. Not only would this component reduce the drain on Israeli defence funds, it would create the perception of action to coincide with the rhetoric. A long time hallmark of the dispute between the entities was the presence of the military to bolster Israel’s position and strength[11]. In many cases, the blatant presence of ham handed tactics only served to drive the opposition to great lengths[12].

Palestine would not only experience the drawdown of Israeli troops in the disputed zone, but would be accorded the right of a sovereign to have their own law enforcement authority as a result of the Oslo Accords[13]. This extension of basic national rights heralded a fundamental shift away from previous policy and signalled the potential for growth in the relationship. The partnership of the accords meant that both nations would share information and appoint officials in order to maintain day to day governance[14]. This gradual integration and recognition of political and regional officials, by both parties, continued to ensure that each one was completely aware of what the other was doing. Yet, as a consequence of Israel’s military strength and capacity, the outside security issues would continue to be relegated to their authority, which in turn gave the Israel continuous influence in the region[15]. While both parties gave ground, each one received a substantial boost from cooperating with the effort.

Overall, the Oslo Accords attempted to focus the peace effort in eh Middle East in order to benefit the entire region. With the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as well as the concession of the PLO representing the Palestinians there were fundamental steps forward. With clear benefits, politically, militarily and economically there was incentive to participate in the process with the clear hope of finally bringing calm to the region.

1.3 The right to exist

Both Israel and Palestine have argued about the legitimacy of one another’s nations[16]. The very creation of the Israeli state following World War II out of the Palestinian occupied area was not recognized by the PLO as being a working entity.The Palestinians were not recognized or allowed the right to exist by Israel[17]. This issue was a key element of the Oslo Accords, which was designed with the specific intention of reducing tension and resolving the long running conflict. In their efforts to defy the Israeli independence, the Palestinian had cast the creation of Israel as illegal and refused to recognize the nation[18].With no recognized nation residing where Palestine now rests, Israel was not under any compunction to recognize the region as an independent nation. In both a cultural and religious manner, the two separate areas of the Palestine Mandate as created by the United Nations was designed to accommodate the Jew’s and the stateless Arabs that were currently making their home upon the region[19]. Originally claimed by the Ottoman Empire, following World War One, the states of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq with Jordan make up the majority of the Palestine Mandate. At the time of Israel’s formation utilizing the remaining portion of the Palestinian Mandate, the UN created a non-Arab state in a region deeply adverse to such a government[20]. This fact alone caused the Arab states in the area to deny the state of Israel. Following the founding of Israel with a declaration of war by their neighbours, there has been an unending determination on the part of Arab nations to destroy the Jewish Israel[21]. The Middle East was in a state of constant turmoil until the early 1990’s and the steps toward the Oslo accord.

As a loose collection of Arabs, many Israelis claim that the remainder of the Palestinian Mandate belongs to the nation of Israel[22]. Lacking a clear sovereign or national infrastructure weakens the Palestinian claim to statehood and self-determination. Alongside the absence of the remaining criteria including a permanent population, defined territory and the capacity to conduct operations with other governments, the Palestine entity was under constant pressure to find a means to be recognized as a state in its own right[23] . With the Oslo Accords, Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. Conversely, the PLO authority recognized Israel’s right to exist as a nation and both pledged to diminish the use of violence in their pursuit of their objectives[24]. With these letters of mutual recognition both parties felt justified in accepting one another as serious regional partners and moving forward.

Reactions from differing sides of the conflict

2.1 Israel and Palestine

The reaction was varied and violent for both the Palestinian and Israeli factions[25]. Internal elements within the region contributed to the heightening of tensions in the region as a response to the accords. Israelis[26] found themselves supporting the Oslo peace process on the left wing with very strong and sustained opposition coming from the right wing of the government. The emotion that the decision engendered was only exacerbated by the perceived violent transgressions credited to the Palestinian supporters[27]. There was a deep division of mistrust and bias on the part of both governments.

The division in Palestine was very similar in nature, in that the Accords split the group into factions[28]. With powerful groups both lined up to promote the Accords and others intent on tearing apart the process, there was little agreement to be had as to the direction. The groups that included the Hamas led the effort to discredit and destroy the effort[29]. This effort to diminish the potential of the peace accord led to many violent outcomes over the course of the next decade. During the period of 1993-1999 there was an estimated 4000 terrorist attacks directly credited to Hamas, with a death toll of over a thousand Israelis, that starkly illustrates the turbulent nature of the Middle East region. Yet, during this same period, the Israelis have been credited with consistently stoking tensions in the region utilizing settlements and the overpowering military might that the nation has developed[30]. While the infrastructure of the Oslo Accords was designed to allow each of the partners the space to work and grow, the result was degeneration into factional fighting that only served to lead the Middle East further down the path to continued unrest.

2.2 How the Oslo Accords affected the world

The efforts to stabilize the Middle East were pivotal to the world during the 1990’s[31]. This was a deeply emotional experience for much of the world, as a method of peace was finally within reach[32]. With the end of the Cold War and the need to ensure oil production, the Middle East played a major role in the capacity of the international community to come together in a peaceful and progressive manner.

2.2.1 Responses in USA

America was a deeply involved partner in the development of the Oslo Accords[33]. Following the failure of the Camp David Accords and the election of democratic President Clinton, there was a real sense of opportunity that provided the drive to encourage the exchange of ideas. President Clinton took a personal hand in the development of the peace process, overseeing the historical handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat that was heralded as the point of a new beginning in the region[34]. In a very real way, the American Nation tried hard and put a substantial portion of their prestige on the line as the United States President attempted to unlock one of the thorniest issues to emerge in modern memory.

2.2.2 Arab States

The Oslo Accords were a matter of great angst for the nearby Arab nations of the Middle East[35]. With some factions voicing the practical view that the agreement was necessary in order to ensure peace in the region, there were the converse citizens that were not only opposed but violently opposed to the entire framework. In turn, this created a highly volatile situation following the initial adoption of the accords[36]. With supporters of both sides willing to do whatever it took to succeed in their goals, the state of the region was thrown into disarray and uncertainty. This period witnessed a servere anti Jew reaction within the entire region of Arab states[37].

2.2.3 European countries

By and large the European nations felt that the Oslo Accords would be a benefit to a worldwide peace and acceptance of the Israeli nation[38]. Not only were the prospects of a calm Middle East attractive to the more developed nations, the overall furthering of the international peace process was seen has a sign of the times. With some allies including Norway assisting Israel in the extreme, the efforts to find a solution to the generation’s old conflict was felt to be within reach[39]. Yet, factions that opted for violence were a constant threat to derail the peace process both, within and without the European region[40]


This essay has illustrated the deep issues that served to separate and divide the region once known as the Palestine Mandate. With so many impacts on the both the religious and social elements around the world, peace in the Middle East is a long held dream. This essay examined the role of the Oslo Accords and the impact that it has had on the world with several interesting results.

The Oslo Accords were a fundamental shift away from the patterns of the past, with an effort to focus on a brighter future. Beginning with the formation of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian Arabs, the simmering violence has only served to diminish the opportunities for the population to thrive. Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, with the assistance of key allies including the United States and Norway fashioned an infrastructure that had the potential to guide the warring factions toward a harbour of peace. The bitter divide that exists with each of the entities is credited with derailing the Oslo Accord process in the selfish pursuit of short term gains.

With the Middle East playing a major role in the world economic, social and religious progression, there is a need for a method for lasting peace in the region. Each effort to attain this peace will add to the overall probability of success. While the Oslo Accords may not have accomplished everything that they set out do, the effort provided the first steps toward some form of resolution. The lesson that trying to find peace without the majority of the population to support the effort will likely end in failure will enable a means to finding a better way forward. In the end, it will not be a single set of accords or laws that will make the difference, it will be the recognition by both factions that they each have a right to not only exist, but be happy that will provide the means to reach the next level of civilization in the region.


Armstrong, K. 1996. One city, three faiths. London: HarperCollins.

Atran, S., Axelrod, R., Davis, R. and Others. 2007. Sacred barriers to conflict resolution.Science, 317 pp. 1039–1040.

Barnett, M. 1999. Culture, strategy and foreign policy change: Israel’s road to Oslo. European Journal of International Relations, 5 (1), pp. 5–36.

Brown, N. J. 2003. Palestinian politics after the Oslo Accords. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Celso, A. N. 2003. The Death of the Oslo Accords: Israeli Security Options in the Post-Arafat Era. Mediterranean Quarterly, 14 (1), pp. 67–84.

Freedman, R. O. 1998. The Middle East and the peace process. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Gorelick, B. A. 2003. The Israeli Response to Palestinian Breach of the Oslo Agreements. New Eng. J. Int’l & Comp. L., 9 pp. 651–695.

Hatina, M. 1999. Hamas and the Oslo Accords: religious dogma in a changing political reality.Mediterranean Politics, 4 (3), pp. 37–55.

Horowitz, D. 2005. Occupation and Settlement. Discovery, 1 (2), pp. 1-5.

Jones, D. 1999. Cosmopolitan mediation?. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Kelman, H. C. 1999. The interdependence of Israeli and Palestinian national identities: The role of the other in existential conflicts. Journal of Social Issues, 55 (3), pp. 581–600.

Pundak, R. 2001. From Oslo to Taba: What Went Wrong?. Survival, 43 (3), pp. 31–45.

Rynhold, J. 2007. Cultural Shift and Foreign Policy Change Israel and the Making of the Oslo Accords. Cooperation and Conflict, 42 (4), pp. 419–440.

Sasley, B. E. 2010. Affective attachments and foreign policy: Israel and the 1993 Oslo Accords.European Journal of International Relations, 16 (4), pp. 687–709.

Weinberger, P. E. 2006. Co-opting the PLO. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Zureik, E. Sammy Smooha, The Orientation and Politicization of the Arab Minority in Israel, Monograph Series on the Middle East, No. 2 (Haifa: Institute of Middle East Studies, Haifa University, 1984). Pp. 230. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 19 (02), pp. 225–227.

[1] Brown, N. J. 2003. Palestinian politics after the Oslo Accords p. 7

[2] Ibid p. 9

[3] Ibid p. 10

[4] Ibid p. 10

[5] Jones, D. 1999. Cosmopolitan mediation?. Manchester: Manchester University Press p. 131.

[6] Rynhold, J. 2007. Cultural Shift and Foreign Policy Change Israel and the Making of the Oslo Accords. p. 420

[7] Weinberger, P. E. 2006. Co-opting the PLO.p. 17

[8] Ibid p. 17

[9] Ibid p. 18

[10] Freedman, R. O. 1998. The Middle East and the peace process. p. 20

[11] Ibid p. 21

[12] Ibid p. 21

[13] Brown 2003 p. 9

[14] Ibid p. 10

[15] Freedman 1998 p. 20

[16] Jones 1999 p. 130

[17] Ibid p. 131

[18] Brown 2003 p. 10

[19] Kelman, H. C. 1999. The interdependence of Israeli and Palestinian national identities: The role of the other in existential conflicts. P. 581

[20] Ibid 1999 p. 582

[21] Barnett, M. 1999. Culture, strategy and foreign policy change: Israel’s road to Oslo. p. 5

[22] Armstrong, K. 1996 p. 50

[23] Sasley, B. E. 2010 p. 688

[24] Hatina, M. 1999p. 38

[25] Gorelick, B. A. 2003 p. 652

[26] Ibid 2003 p. 653

[27] Celso, A. N. 2003. The Death of the Oslo Accords: Israeli Security Options in the Post-Arafat Era.p. 68

[28] Pundak, R. 2001. From Oslo to Taba: What Went Wrong?

[29] Horowitz 2005 p. 2

[30] Atran, S., Axelrod, R., Davis, R. and Others. 2007. Sacred barriers to conflict resolution p. 1039

[31] Celso, A. N. 2003 p. 67

[32] Ibid p. 68

[33] Ibid p. 68

[34] Ibid. p. 69

[35] Atran et al 2007, p. 1040

[36] Ibid 2007 p. 1041

[37] Ibid 2007 p. 1042

[38] Sasley, 2010 p. 688

[39] Ibid 2010 p. 688

[40] Atran et al 2007, p. 1041