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The Oslo Delusion – Or the Collapse of Axioms

Raphael Israeli
Policy Paper No. 126, 2001


The Oslo Accords, which have dominated the political and international life of Israel in the past eight years, turn out to be a carefully crafted and systematically cultivated delusion on both sides. The Israelis thought that by making certain concessions they could secure eternal peace with the Palestinians – the so-called “core of the Arab-Israeli dispute”, and the Palestinians thought that they could use Oslo to eliminate Israel gently and in stages.

As time wore on, the realization dawned in Israel that even should the Oslo Accords work, the real dangers loom from the Israeli outer circle – that of Iraq and Iran – which has little to do with the Palestinians and would pursue politicidal goals against Israel in any case. Thus, the political and territorial concessions to be made to the Palestinians came to be seen as weakening Israel in the ultimate showdown with the Palestinians.

But within the Israeli-Palestinian narrower context, Oslo revealed that there was no meeting of minds from the onset of the process, and the parties used a language of plastering over their profound differences rather than coming to terms with the real issues. Those issues, especially Jerusalem and the “right of return”, remained as the hidden agenda of the Palestinians, which they branded in the open once they received all the rest, thus aborting the entire agreement, first at Camp David II (July 2000), and then burying it with the outbreak of the intifada (September 2000).

The premeditated Palestinian uprising, which was calculated to attain by force what they failed to impose in negotiations on the Barak government, reveals some deep seated cultural differences between them and the Israelis regarding the right of Israel to exist, their attitudes towards conflict and settlement, and their disdain towards Jews, Zionism and Israel, which make any future negotiation and peace unfeasible unless a great metamorphosis is effected in these basic Palestinian and Arab attitudes.

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