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The Israel-PLO Accord Is Dead

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with President Clinton and Yasser Arafat during the signing of the Oslo I Accord in 1993. Flickr

THE FAILURE OF OSLO

The Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at the White House on September 13, 1993, is for all intents and purposes dead. The repeated atrocities by Palestinian suicide bombers, including the grisly death of 20 Israeli soldiers in Beit Lid and the murder of 22 civilians in downtown Tel Aviv, serve only as dramatic illustrations of just how ineffectual the so-called Oslo accord has become. As it stands now, the whole Oslo process is unraveling, jolted by a wave of fundamentalist terrorism that deepens the prevailing pessimism among even dovish Israelis.

The original treaty -- not to mention the high hopes behind it -- has been so altered by both the PLO and Israel as to have become barely recognizable. Israeli plans for limited but continued West Bank settlement caused an international outcry after the expansion of Efrat, a settlement near Bethlehem. Israel has so far refused to withdraw the Israeli Defense Forces from the West Bank's major cities before the Palestinian elections for their autonomy authority, which should have been held months ago. Fifty-nine Israelis have been killed in the past nine months by suicide bombers from Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. For their part, many Palestinians bitterly complain that Israel has not given up anything and call the IDF's withdrawal from the turbulent Gaza Strip a blessing for Israel. They excoriate Israel's Labor-led government for refusing even to clear the handful of militant settlers out of downtown Hebron after one American-born fanatic massacred 29 worshipers in Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque. The Declaration of Principles has increasingly become a document that reflects neither reality nor probability.

This is not what the handful of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had in mind when they secretly hammered out the accord in Norway. The pact called for an IDF withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho, which would then fall under the civilian control of a Palestinian autonomy government headed by PLO Chairman Yasir

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