08:09 GMT26 February 2020
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    Last Sunday, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) warned that it reserves the right to withdraw from the Oslo agreements, which regulate relations between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel, if US President Donald Trump released his "deal of the century" peace plan.

    With President Donald Trump touting his recently rolled out Middle East peace plan as a "realistic two-state solution”, the Palestinians are not that optimistic about “the deal of the century”, focusing instead on the so-called Oslo Accords which they have already threatened to abandon.

    Here’s a glance at what the Oslo Accords are all about, in comparison with the Trump deal, also known as “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”

    Borders-Related Issues

    The Trump plan ignores the principle of Israel’s pre-1967 borders which is in line with UN Security Council Resolution 242. The blueprint instead aims to allow “approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory.”

    Under the Oslo Accords signed in the 1990s and also known as the Declaration of Principles, the issue of borders should have served as the starting point for the permanent status negotiations between the two sides that were expected during the five-year transitional period. However, the sides failed to agree on final borders following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 and the election of Benjamin Netanyahu the following year.

    Israeli Settlements

    Israel's West Bank settlements would be recognised by the United States under the “Vision” plan.

    However, Israel would freeze the construction of new settlements on Palestinian territories for four years while Palestinian statehood is negotiated.

    The plan also stipulates transfer of Israeli territory along the southern border with Egypt to the Palestinians who could create a “high-tech” manufacturing zone as well as a residential and agricultural area there.

    The Oslo Accords saw  UN resolutions 242 and 338 as a starting point for negotiations, documents that specifically called for a return of Israel to the pre-1967 borders.

    Shortly before his death, Rabin said that he did not rule out major clusters of Jewish population in the West Bank being incorporated into Israel. According to him, the rest of the West Bank and all of Gaza should become an essential part of Palestinian territory, which he perceived as “less than a state”.

    Status of Jerusalem

    Under the Trump plan, Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel, while the eastern Jerusalem neighbourhoods located outside the West Bank security barrier should become the capital of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

    Jerusalem’s holy sites, such as Temple Mount, would be available to all, with Muslim authorities to continue to supervise the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.  

    As far as the Oslo Accords are concerned, they stipulated that the future of Jerusalem would be negotiated by both sides as a final-status issue.

    Security Items

    The Trump plan points out that the PNA would be “fully demilitarised” and that Hamas should be disarmed in Gaza. Israel would be responsible for the state’s external security, while Palestinian units would be tasked with dealing with “public order, law enforcement, counterterrorism … [and] border security”.

    Additionally, Israel would reserve the right to monitor border crossings in order “to confirm that no weapons, dual-use or other security-risk related items will be allowed to enter into the State of Palestine.”

    Under the Oslo Accords’ temporary arrangement, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C, which still remain given that no final agreement was signed in the 1990s.  

    Israel preserves full-fledged control of Area C, where most of the settler communities reside, while in Area A, the towns are nominally under full Palestinian control. In Area B, Palestinians take control of civilian affairs, with Israel responsible for security.

    Refugees

    The Vision plan declares that there will be no Palestinian “right of return,” and that no refugees will be absorbed into the State of Israel. The blueprint also singles out a US push to “endeavour to raise a fund to provide some compensation for Palestinian refugees,” also calling for a mechanism to compensate Israel for the money to absorb Jewish refugees from Muslim countries after its declaration of statehood on 14 May, 1948.

    Like the status of Jerusalem, a refugees-related issue proved to be another sensitive topic left by the Oslo Declaration of Principles left for future resolution which never saw the light of day.

    Even so, the Oslo Declaration of Principles is rightfully believed to be an important deal given that it envisaged Israel’s withdrawal from Jericho and Gaza, and eventually the West Bank, five years of limited autonomy for Palestinians in the areas, election of Palestinian Legislative Council within nine months and an establishment of a Palestinian police force.

    The Oslo Accords resulted in Israel's recognition of the PLO as a representative of the Palestinian people and a party to the peace negotiations, while the PLO, in turn, officially recognised Israel's right to exist peacefully and renounced the use violence to achieve its goals.

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    Tags:
    principle, borders, peace plan, Middle East, Donald Trump, United States
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