Rethinking Oslo: How Europe can promote peace in Israel-Palestine

Press release

Fix Oslo Accords to win peace in Israel/Palestine

The Accords have provided political cover for Israel’s creeping annexation of West Bank territory, and eroded the possibility of Palestinian self-determination.

Long-simmering tensions have once more bubbled to the surface in Israel/Palestine, this time sparked by Palestinian concerns over access to the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). In a significant turn, the renewed upsurge of violence has led Mahmoud Abbas – president of the Palestinian Authority – to call for the temporary suspension of all contacts with Israel, potentially impacting continued Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.

A new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) argues that unless structural flaws in the Oslo peace process are corrected, Palestinians and Israelis will find themselves on a path towards open-ended conflict.

Authors Hugh Lovatt and Omar Dajani argue that the Oslo Accords have allowed Israel to further entrench its occupation and created an unsustainable reality. As ECFR’s new report outlines, the Oslo Accords, which were only ever meant to last five years, have instead provided political cover for Israel’s creeping annexation of West Bank territory, and eroded the possibility of Palestinian self-determination. Unless these structural flaws are addressed, any future peace talks will only end in failure.

As the authors explain, a two-state solution still remains the preferred outcome on both sides of the conflict, however, Europe needs to shift its approach if it wants to contribute towards the resumption of meaningful peace talks between the two sides.

Above all, Europe needs to invest greater political capital to encourage Israel to end its violations of international law, and shift support for Palestine towards sovereignty building rather than just capacity building in order to sustain Palestinian claims to self-determination.

The EU should also come together and unite around the following principles:

  1. To reject formalised discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories;
  2. To continue to reiterate its opposition to Israel’s open-ended occupation;
  3. To align its positions with on the consequences of Israel’s violation of jus ad bellum (law on the use of force) with international law;
  4. To outline the consequences of a disappearing two-solution for the sides, and for Europe.

Co-author Hugh Lovatt said:

“Europe has prioritised peace negotiations within the Oslo framework over all else – including efforts to end the occupation. In so doing, it has created a perverse incentive structure that has helped to entrench the occupation and Israelis’ support for it. Tinkering at the margins will not alter the dangerous trajectory the two sides are on. Nor can providing palliative care to Palestinians ensure long-term stability in the OPT”

Co-author Omar Dajani said:

“If Europe is firm in its conviction that preserving the possibility of a two-state solution is a strategic and moral imperative, it must be prepared to hold the line against efforts by Israel to irrevocably change the political geography and demographic character of the OPT.”

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