Wednesday, November 14, 2018 11:50:15 AM
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."
Wayne Rooney says he is honoured to make a final appearance for England and happy for manager Gareth Southgate to decide his playing time Thursday against the United States.Former Manchester United star Rooney, in video comments released Monday by his Major League Soccer club DC United, detailed his excitement at ...
Reuters, Beijing :No country can block China's cooperation with island nations in the Pacific and the area is no country's sphere of influence, a senior diplomat said on Tuesday, ahead of a summit between President Xi Jinping and Pacific island leaders.Australia, in particular, has been vying for influence with China ...
Reuters, Gaza :Israel launched more air strikes on Gaza on Tuesday as Palestinians kept up rocket fire on Israeli territory, in the worst surge of violence since a 2014 war.The fighting - that has killed six Palestinians, five of them militants, and a civilian in Israel since Monday -threatened to ...
Jannatul Ferdous Oishee crowned 'Miss Bangladesh 2018' on November 30. Now, she is in China for participating in the 'Miss World' beauty contest. There she will represent Bangladesh. On Saturday night at 1:00 am, Oishi left Dhaka for Sanya in China. And she reached there on Sunday morning.Swapan Chowdhury, chairman ...
AP, Milan :Cristiano Ronaldo ended his San Siro hoodoo to help Juventus to a 2-0 win after AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain missed a penalty against his former team on Sunday.Higuain left Juventus in the offseason following the signing of Ronaldo and he had a nightmare game as he was ...
THE directives to ensure discipline in traffic system issued by higher authorities have failed to bring any result. The traffic rule violation is still rampant. Almost all directives addressing owners and workers of city service buses and human haulers, pedestrians and drivers went unheeded. If the traffic management system returns ...
The death toll in wildfires sweeping California has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still unaccounted for, officials have said.Six more people were confirmed killed in the Camp Fire in the north of the state, taking the toll there to 29.That fire now equals the deadliest on record ...
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :It was earlier fixed that Raihan Rafi directed and Jaaz Multimedia produced movie Dohon was scheduled to release on November 16. Later releasing date was changed to November 30. Owner of Jaaz Abdul Aziz confirmed the matter yesterday. Main theme of the story was given by him ...
Actor Akshya Kumar recently announced the entire cast of India’s first space film Mission Mangal. The film is set to go on floors next month and will be helmed by Jagan Shakti. Besides Akshay as the main lead, Mission Mangal has an impeccable leading cast that includes names like Vidya ...
Hundreds of Iranian women attended a crunch football match in Tehran, in a rare step seen Sunday as a "victory" by local newspapers and hailed by FIFA as an "historic and festive day" for the sport.About a thousand women were allowed into Azadi Stadium late Saturday to watch Iranian giant ...
ANOTHER woman was killed in a running bus on Friday night. This time her father was also pushed off the vehicle on Dhaka-Tangail highway in Savar. The incident may remind one of the rape and murder of law student Rupa Khatun inside a running bus in Tangail over a year ...