From Jewish Online News
Twenty years ago this week, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the first substantive agreement to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
It surprised everybody. Lo and behold, secret negotiations had been taking place in the Norwegian capital and – away from the limelight – negotiators reached a deal. The agreement became known as the Oslo Accords. It was a framework for peace, which called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied land and the establishment of a self- governing body that would build a new Palestinian state from the bottom up.
This new body, created in 1995 in what became known as Oslo II, would administer an area of land and govern the population according to democratic principles. It became known as the Palestinian Authority. All this, it was envisaged, would be a temporary arrangement, but it would lead to a permanent peace, the negotiations for which would start no later than 1996.
Twenty years later, hopes of peace are at rock bottom. In the intervening years Rabin was assassinated, Jewish settlers built as much housing as they did ill will, the Palestinians returned to violence and all subsequent negotiations stalled, stumbled and stuttered.
Yet Oslo remains hugely important, not least because it is arguably the closest we have come to peace in our time between Israel and the Palestinians. This week we look back at what was and what has since been.