Oslo
Saturday, 19 January 2008

January 1993 

The Oslo Accords

What is commonly referred to as the “Oslo Accords” essentially consist of the following letters, agreements and understandings reached between the State of Israel and the PLO:

■ Arafat-Rabin Letters, 9 September 1993
■ Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, 13 September 1993
■ Paris Economic Protocol, 29 April 1994
■ Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area, 4 May 1994
■ Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities, 29 August 1994
■ Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 28 September 1995
■ Protocol concerning the redeployment in Hebron, 15 January 1997
■ Agreement on Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron, 21 January 1997 and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Temporary International Presence in Hebron, 30 January 1997
■ Wye River Memorandum, 23 October 1998
■ The Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on Implementation Timeline of Outstanding Commitments of Agreements Signed and the Resumption of Permanent Status Negotiations, 4 September 1999

In the Arafat-Rabin Letters, the PLO recognised the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security, and reaffirmed its acceptance of UNSC resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO also affirmed “that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid.” For its part, Israel “decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people,” but it did not recognise the right of the Palestinian people to their own state.


The Declaration of Principles provided that Israel and the PLO “recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights”. The preamble to the principles provided that the goal of the agreement was to “achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.”

The main text of the Declaration called for a gradual transfer of power from Israel to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with ‘permanent-status’ negotiations on Jerusalem, final borders, settlements, refugees, security, water etc. to begin two years after Israel’s initial withdrawal from Jericho and the Gaza Strip. The DOP also provided for “a temporary international or foreign presence, as agreed upon” (Annex II d.), though Israel subsequently and consistently refused to have any foreign presence in the Palestinian territories, despite repeated Palestinian requests.

The preamble to the Paris Economic Protocol declares that economics is the “cornerstone” in the mutual relations of Israelis and Palestinians. It speaks of “strengthening the economic base for the Palestinian side”, but stops short of declaring a free-trade area or common market. The protocol provides for a limited customs union between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since the PEP was framed in an open-ended way, it allowed Israel as the dominant power to interpret the agreements in a way that deepened Palestinian economic dependence. The establishment of a customs union with Israel based on Israeli trade regulations and the imposition of arbitrary trading restrictions, Israeli control of labour flows, the lack of direct access to international trade borders with the rest of the world, and the lack of a domestic Palestinian currency, imposed severe limitations on the Palestinian economy.

The Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho area called on Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and Jericho within three weeks. Significantly, this agreement established the Palestinian National Authority.

The Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities provided that Israel would transfer six ‘spheres’ of civil authority to the PNA: education and culture, health, social welfare, tourism, direct taxation, and value-added tax on local production. Under this agreement, the Palestinian Authority’s power over these spheres extended beyond Gaza and Jericho; it encompassed the entire West Bank, except that it did not extend to “Jerusalem, settlements, military locations and … Israelis”.

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was basically drafted to implement the Declaration of Principles. This agreement is the most important of all the Oslo Accords. It provided for the creation of an elected 82-person Palestinian Council to supersede the PNA, and that a Ra’ees would be elected to serve as head of a 24-person Executive Authority. The Arabic word Ra’ees was chosen as a compromise between the Palestinian preference for “President” and the Israeli preference for “Chairman”, a term that would not so clearly connote a head of state.

The Interim Agreement contemplated four phases of Israeli redeployment from the West Bank. The first phase was for Israel to redeploy its army from “populated areas” of the West Bank. This phase was to be completed before the elections of the Palestinian Council. The remaining three phases would involve gradual redeployment to “specified military locations” over the next 18 months, to take place at six-month intervals.

Israel’s obligations under the Interim Agreement included:

● Allowing a safe passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza Strip

● Allowing Palestinians to construct and operate sea and airports in the Gaza Strip

● Cooperation with Palestinians on security matters and border control

● Cooperation with Palestinians on economic issues

● Sharing tax and tariff revenue with the PNA

● Paying “due regard” to “internationally-accepted norms … of human rights”

 

The PNA’s obligations under the Interim Agreement included:

 

● Amending the Palestinian National Covenant

● Combating “terrorism”

● Extraditing “terror” suspects to Israel

● Cooperating with Israel on security matters

● Meeting regularly with the Israeli side on security matters

● Paying due regard to human rights