What were the details of the Oslo Accords?
Oslo Accords, officially known as “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements”, is a document signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization and representatives of the State of Israel in September 1993. The agreement which was signed in a ceremony held in Washington by U.S. President Bill Clinton marked a breakthrough in decades-old conflicts between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Yitzhak Rabin, the then Israeli Prime Minister and Yasser Arafat, the president of PLO, brought an end to their sworn enmity in a historic handshake in an event which went on to become one of the most momentous in the history of Middle East. The entire geo-political map of the region was redrawn in that one thoughtful move.
This agreement, which was the result of the Madrid Conference in 1991, contained a set of general principles pertaining to a five year interim self-rule period allowed to Palestine, mutually agreed upon by the both parties. The issue of “permanent status” was to be initiated in the third year so that the negotiations would lead to the implementations that were to take effect at the end of this interim period.
Mentioned below are the main points of the Declaration of Principles (DOP).
- 1. Transfer of Powers to the Palestinians
According to a feature of DOP, power and responsibilities in Gaza and the West Bank are to be transferred to Palestine to let them have a control of their own in these areas.
- 2. No Prejudgment of the Permanent Status
Issues of the permanent status like refuges, Jerusalem, Security arrangements and settlements are excluded from the DOP. It stated that the outcomes of the permanent status decisions are not to be prejudged from the interim agreement.
- 3. Israel to be Responsible for the Security
The DOP states that Israel is to retain the responsibility of the security of areas pertaining to the international borders as well as the Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.
Phases involved in the implementation of the DOP were specified as below.
- Self rule in Gaza-Jericho:
Withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the areas of Gaza and Jericho was the first step in the implementation of the DOP. This aspect was negotiated and brought to a conclusion in Cairo Agreement signed by the PLO and Israel in May 1994.
- Transfer of power and responsibilities:
The authority of tourism, direct taxation, social welfare, health, culture and education was to be transferred to the Palestinian representatives. Additional sectors were to be transferred gradually as per agreements. According to the DOP, these powers should be transferred immediately after the implementation of Gaza-Jericho agreement.
- Permanent status issue:
Negotiations regarding the permanent status were to commence no later than the third year of the interim period. The talks in this regard were supposed to bring out final settlements between the two parties. It was understood that these negotiations would cover the refugee issue, positions on Jerusalem, issue of borders and settlements as well as security arrangements and other issues of common interest. According to the DOP, the Gaza-Jericho agreement would follow implementation of the permanent status, taking effect in 5 years from the time of agreement, that is, May 1999.
The bilateral agreement of Oslo Accords was a positive step in promoting peace-process between Palestine and Israel. However, lack of commitment and consistent use of force by IDF caused its failure. The peace-process never took a healthy flight and the DOP finally came to a standstill after Camp David summit and of the second intifada.