Mayday for Oslo

The approaching deadline for final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians threatens the Oslo process. But an arbitrary piece of scheduling should not be allowed to dictate events.

Issue: Spring 1999

On one level the 1993 Oslo Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians involved a general commitment by both parties to resolve their dispute through negotiation and compromise rather than violence. On another level the Oslo Agreement--now, with its various supplements and implementing agreements, better understood as the Oslo process--involved a very specific set of mutual commitments and reciprocal obligations, the core of which was the old bargain of land for peace and security. Because the two sides were so far apart on the most difficult issues--Jerusalem, borders, refugees--they decided on a two-stage process: first a five-year "interim" period in which trust would build and the Palestinians would gain increasing autonomy and de facto control over the West Bank and Gaza, then negotiations over the difficult "final status" issues.

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