In theory, the end of Oslo should be a welcome development. In practice, there is little to celebrate.
There is something unsettling about the way the 25-year anniversary since the signing of the Oslo Accords is being marked — neither eulogy nor longing, and without anyone having any clue what lies ahead. There is one thing that is different this year, however. With the exception of Jason Greenblatt, nobody is paying lip service to the illusion of a peace process any more.
In theory, that should be a welcome development. The Oslo process and the legacy it left on the ground has done far more harm than good. By creating the façade of autonomy and the Palestinian Authority, which arguably has grown into little more than a sub-contractor of the Israeli army, the occupation is far more sustainable for Israel today than it was a quarter century ago.
By leaving in its wake decades of peace processes that went nowhere, Oslo also helped Israel stave off international pressure to either end the occupation or grant Palestinians equal rights. In that regard, Oslo provided international legitimacy for the entire second half of Israel’s 51-year military dictatorship over the Palestinians.
In practice, however, there is little to celebrate. The Trump White House’s Mideast policy has been commandeered by John Bolton, who is rapidly working through a checklist designed to dismantle the very idea of Palestine, and even the Palestinian people. (Bolton has long advocated handing large portions of the West Bank to Jordan — allowing Israel to retain whatever pieces it pleases — and the entire Gaza Strip to Egypt.)
Trump is not attempting to create a framework for a negotiated settlement like the previous five administrations did. Trump and his team are trying to lay the groundwork for an imposed resolution to the conflict — one that meets every one of Israel’s demands and undermines and negates nearly every Palestinian position.
In recent months the White House declared that it “took Jerusalem off the table” by recognizing it as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there. It is attempting to neutralize the entire question of Palestinian refugees by defining them out of existence. Washington is attempting to extort complete compliance and obedience out of the Palestinian leadership by cutting almost all funding for the Palestinian government and UN-provided basic social services. And the Bolton team’s latest move,...Read More