The Price of Oslo
Al Jazeera (2013)
The Price of Oslo is a two part documentary about the 1993 Oslo Accords, which according to many analysts, set the Palestinian cause back at least 20 years.
Episode 1 explores the background leading both Palestine and Israel to accept Norway as a “neutral” mediator. Israel welcomed the participation of Norway, as they replaced Iran as Israel’s primary oil supplier after the Shah was overthrown in 1977. In addition Norway’s ruling pro-Zionist Socialist Labor Party had extremely close ties with Israel’s ruling Socialist Labor Party.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) accepted Norway’s mediator role because of close personal ties they developed with Norwegian soldiers deployed as UN peacekeepers after Israel’s 1978 invasion of south Lebanon.*
Many Mideast analysts believe the PLO was on the verge of collapse in the late 1980s, when Norway offered to set up a secret back channel for Arafat to participate in secret negotiations with the Israeli government.
The Norwegian government subsequently arranged for Palestinian and Israeli delegates to hold secret talks in Oslo and Israel under the auspices of FAFO, a Norwegian trade union think tank allegedly conducting “research” in Israel.
* The PLO was headquartered in Lebanese refugee camps prior to their expulsion from Lebanon in 1982.
Episode 2 describes how the secret FAFO negotiations took place in parallel with “official” Washington DC negotiations overseen by the Clinton administration. It also reveals how the entire Palestinian delegation disagreed with the concessions Arafat demanded they consent to. They most vehemently disagreed with Israel’s “deal breakers” that negotiations not include the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, nor UN involvement in the ultimate peace settlement.
In the final Oslo Accords signed in August 1993, the Palestinians were granted limited autonomy (an elected Palestinian Authority) in areas of the occupied West Bank and Gaza that excluded “military zones” and Israeli settlements. In return, the Palestinians agreed to allow Israel to assume overall responsibility for “security,” to allow continued building of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and to vigorously police “terrorist” activities carried on by anti-Israeli activists.
The only concession the PLO received was an agreement for the Israeli Defense Force to withdraw from Jericho and Gaza.**
Renowned Palestinian scholar and activist Edward Said was deeply shocked by the concessions Arafat agreed to, which he blamed on the “decay” of the PLO leadership. The Oslo Accord, according to Said, transformed the PLO from a “movement of national liberation to a municipality.” Owing to the extreme secrecy under which they occurred, Israel came out the clear winner of the Oslo negotiations. Had the Palestinian people known about the self-defeating concessions Arafat was making, they would never have allowed them to go forward.
With the Palestinian Authority brutally policing their own dissidents and activists to enforce “peace” in Israel/Palestine, the most important outcome for Israel was hundreds of millions in foreign investment.
*It would take the IDF until 2006 to withdraw from Gaza. (see The Back Story on Hamas)