Friday, April 19, 2019 07:19:32 PM
A handshake on the White House lawn sealing the first of the landmark Oslo accords inspired hope that Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved, but 25 years later those dreams have faded. The September 13 anniversary of the 1993 accord, symbolised by the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, will not be celebrated by most Israelis or Palestinians, many of whom see the process as unfulfilled or flawed from the very start.
But for those who regard an Israeli and Palestinian state existing side-by-side as the only viable solution, salvaging the peace process and the achievements of the Oslo accords-a second followed in 1995 -- is more urgent than ever. "It was a defining moment for many of us," said Ghaith al-Omari, a Palestinian student in Jordan at the time and now a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank. "There was a lot of hope-maybe naive hope, but certainly a lot of hope." Omari, who served as an adviser to Palestinian negotiators in later talks, has no illusions about the current state of the peace process.
"On the long-term, there is no solution except the two-state solution," he told AFP. "In the short-term, there is absolutely no chance that it's going to happen."
His view is widely shared, with Omari and others pointing to what they see as Israel's drift to the political right, a weakened Palestinian leadership and US President Donald Trump's moves.
Trump has pledged to reach the "ultimate deal"-Israeli-Palestinian peace-but has declined to commit to a two-state solution, for years the focus of international diplomacy.
He has also sided with Israel on core issues in the conflict, such as recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as its capital, while publicly asking for no concessions in return.
Those moves have delighted Israeli right-wing politicians who oppose a Palestinian state and argue that the Oslo accords only lead to another Palestinian intifada and more violence.
But the Palestinians, who have cut off contact with Trump's White House, say Israel failed to abide by the accords-notably by allowing hundreds of thousands more settlers in the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.
Their leadership, however, remains deeply divided between 83-year-old president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and refuses to recognise Israel.
Benny Morris, a renowned Israeli historian whose books include "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001", faults Israel's drift to the right, but believes the Palestinians are not prepared to fully accept a two-state solution.
"I think something has to happen in the leaderships of the two people," he said.
"Israelis have to get rid of this leadership, which is unable to move towards peace, unable to adopt a two-state formula as a basis for peace."
But the Palestinians "have to get rid of the Hamas leadership, and the Fatah leadership pretends to want peace, but doesn't actually want it".
The Oslo accord of 1993 stated that "it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict" and "strive to live in peaceful coexistence".
While it did not specifically mention the creation of a Palestinian state, it led to mechanisms for self-governance, including the Palestinian Authority, which has endured.
As part of the agreements, the Palestine Liberation Organisation recognised Israel, while Israel recognised the PLO as the Palestinians' legitimate representative.
That in itself was a major achievement at the time, following decades of enmity.
In 1994, then Israeli prime minister Rabin, PLO chairman Arafat and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres shared the Nobel peace prize.
But since, Israelis and Palestinians have been scarred by further tragedy.
Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli right-wing extremist in 1995 and the five-year transitional period under Oslo that was supposed to lead to a permanent settlement expired with no deal in place.
A second Palestinian intifada erupted in 2000, and since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, it has fought three wars with Israel.
Israeli settlement building has multiplied in the West Bank-on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live there and in annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also now heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel's history.
Key members of his coalition want to see most of the West Bank become part of Israel despite warnings that it would lead to an "apartheid" arrangement with the Palestinians there.
Morris, who has spent much of his life documenting the conflict, still believes the two-state solution is the only way forward, but admits he is pessimistic.
"I really don't know," he said. "I used to think it would be achieved. Now I'm not very optimistic about it ever happening."
AFP, Colombo :Sri Lanka Thursday dumped established stars including former captain Dinesh Chandimal to hand batsman Lahiru Thirimanne and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay a place in their World Cup squad.Chandimal, who was one-day captain until last October, wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella, off-spinner Akila Dananjaya, openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Upul Tharanga were all ...
Former chief selector Faruk Ahmed insisted on the performance of the senior players, stating that they need to take the onus if Bangladesh want to do well in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.According to Faruk, the condition should give Bangladesh a confidence, given that they stormed into the semifinal ...
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :For the last few years, Mehazabien Chowdhury established her strong position in media by virtue of her acting quality and skill. She is now getting positive response for acting in two Boishakhi plays. Afran Nisho was her co-actor in these two plays - Tom & Jerry and ...
Reuters, Istanbul :Turkey's main opposition candidate took office as Istanbul mayor on Wednesday after a stunning victory over President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, but the new head of the country's largest city still faces an appeal for the vote to be re-run.The final result of the March 31 local elections ...
A HUGE majority of Egypt's MPs on April 16 approved constitutional amendments to allow President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in power until 2030. The amendments were initially introduced in February, however after lengthy debates and discussions favouring the Egyptian society it was updated earlier this week. "The president's current term shall expire ...
AFP, Tokyo :Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta's Vissel Kobe have terminated the contract of manager Juan Manuel Lillo following a poor run of results, the Japanese club said on Wednesday.The 53-year-old former Real Sociedad and Zaragoza boss won just two of six games since taking charge last October as star-studded Vissel ...
AP, Ramallah, West Bank :The new Palestinian prime minister on Tuesday accused the United States of declaring "financial war" on his people and said an American peace plan purported to be in the works will be "born dead."In his first interview with international media since taking office over the weekend, ...
Web Series are surely the in thing nowadays and so many actors, irrespective of their stardom, are being seen in them. Marathi superstar Priya Bapat has also bagged a web series called City Of Dreams. Sharing her experience of being part of the series, she says, “Web series are now ...
AT the advent of summer this year, the number of diarrhoea patients has already crossed the recent records. International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, and the other city hospitals are struggling to tackle the surge in diarrhoea patients. The diarrhoea patients admitted to the ICDDR,B has crossed the number ...
Fast bowler Taskin Ahmed vowed to make a strong comeback after being snubbed from the 15-member World Cup squad, announced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on Tuesday.Chocked with emotions as tears were rolling down from his cheek Taskin shared his disappointments with media."Its' ok just pray for me," Taskin ...
WORKERS of state-owned jute mills across the country withdrew their 96-hours strike last night after the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) agreed to some of their demands. The decision came after a meeting between worker leaders and top BJMC officials on Monday night, following the first day of the second ...
AFP, Paris :Global leaders and institutions shared the international shock at seeing Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral consumed by flames.They stressed the unique and iconic place the monument has in human history and expressed solidarity with France. Pope Francis "is praying for French Catholics and for the people of Paris in face ...
Web Series are surely the in thing nowadays and so many actors, irrespective of their stardom, are being seen in them. Marathi superstar Priya Bapat has also bagged a web series called City Of Dreams. Sharing her experience of being part of the series, she says, `Web series are now ...