Marking the 20-year anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a local gathering of pro-Israel journalists, writers, and academics seemed to agree on one thing: It was a failure.
A document being circulated by Israel's Foreign Ministry instructs its envoys to warn their host governments that the Oslo Accords could be canceled over the Palestinian Authority's attempt to upgrade its status at the United Nations.
In the reoccupied West Bank town of Hebron, an activist in Yasser Arafat's Al Fatah, a graduate of Israeli prisons, lamented the other day: "I gave up my dream of the whole of Palestine for the sake of the Oslo accord. And what did I get? Corruption, no democracy, security services abusing and blackmailing our people. And now I'm getting Israeli soldiers invading my town and the Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to protect me."
Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian legislator and spokeswoman, a few weeks ago publicized an open letter from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informing all Palestinians, "You are my target; you will be made to suffer, and you shall pay for the original crime of being a Palestinian."
I recently participated in two dialogues about the crisis in the Middle East. One was with Palestinian Arabs at a local university. The second was with Jews who have been longtime supporters of the Oslo accords. The dialogue with the Arabs took place in a large college gym. Some 2,000 students filled the stands expecting some kind of vicious spectator sport. Instead of two sides coming out fighting, they witnessed a strange conversation.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat came to town this week, seeking Washington's blessing for Palestinian statehood in return for postponing a unilateral declaration on May 4, when the interim Oslo period expires.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak's cozy late-night dinner with Yasser Arafat and some of the Palestinian leaders' top aides at a private home near Tel Aviv came as a pleasant surprise to Middle East peace watchers.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat came to town this week, seeking Washington's blessing for Palestinian statehood in return for postponing a unilateral declaration on May 4, when the interim Oslo period expires
Two leaders of Israel's opposition Labor Party were in Los Angeles last week on separate visits and voiced sharp criticism of the current government's peace policy, and support for a strong role by the United States in the stalled negotiations.