By Salim Nazzal
Months before the public announcement of the Oslo canal as the Norwegians chose to call it, I was one among other Palestinians who met with Bassam Abu Sharif, who was visiting Oslo along with Dr Eugiune Makhlouf the Palestinian representative in Sweden at the time. Abu Sharif was in an optimistic mood contrary to the obvious certainty. At that time I did not know, as I heard later, that his visit was part of the preparation to the secret negotiations which took place in a farm south of Norway among Palestinians and Israelis. Nothing in particular signaled the success for such negotiations.
The current circumstances in the Middle East area were really inadequate. In 1990, three years before the Oslo accord, and in the mid of the intifada Iraq invaded Kuwait for some veiled reasons which in my views lacked wisdom and responsibility, to say the least, some Palestinians leaders sided directly or indirectly the Iraqi occupation which weakened the moral grounds of the Palestinians who themselves are the victims of the Zionist activities. The consequence was eminent the isolation of the PLO.
The history of most national movements taught us that the negotiations with the occupational power usually take place at times when the national movement reaches its aims of defeating the counterpart. However, I am aware that it is perhaps difficult to presume certain apparent policies in this connection. But if I do so, I would say that there are few indications which would perhaps encourage the national movement to go in negotiating the enemy. The first is that the enemy is about to be conquered physically and morally, Second, that the enemy is isolated worldwide and pressed by the international community, thirdly, that the masses has great confidence in leadership which lead the resistance.
So if we apply these set of laws on the situation at that time we would without big efforts conclude that most of it did not actually exist. In addition, considering the secret nature of the negotiations, where its secrecy is often associated with suspicion and negative thinking, it is difficult for an ordinary Palestinian to accept that few men represent a drift in a party have the right to appoint themselves as representing a nation which is in war for almost 100 years with the Zionist movement and to come up at the end with a devastating outcome as the one which we have been through for the last 14 years. Just to give the clearest example, in the shadow of the Oslo agreement which said no word about stopping the Zionist settlement proceedings; The settlers have become now around half million in Palestine territories occupied after 1967, which raise serious questions about the integrity of the future Palestinian state.
That the agreement was called the peace of the braves is yet another misleading terminology which appeared that time. It was Charles Degaul who coined in late fifties the “peace of the brave” terminology in a speech in the French general assembly after he realized the hopelessness of the French colonization project in Algeria. In Palestine it is very doubtful that Zionists has reached this level of thinking.Their policy on daily basis give evidence that they still believe in the power of occupation and the power of the imperial support.
In Norway, the country which has been in the shade examining world politics, the reaction about the agreement was enormous for the small country such as Norway which thought to have solved one of the most complicated problems in modern history while other more influential countries had failed to solve. It was hard for the ordinary Norwegian thrilled of their achievement to believe that the whole thing will lead to nothing.
Few days after the public announcement of the Oslo accord, the Norwegian official TV contacted me asking if I would like to be interviewed to comment on the agreement where it was obvious to me that the speaker wanted me to praise the agreement. I told him the agreement will lead to nothing simply because all the major issues such as the Palestinian independent state, the question of the Palestinian refugees, the question of Jerusalem, etc was not resolved. His argument was that this is a start and things will change towards restoring the Palestinian rights. I said I doubt Zionist Jews, mostly overseas immigrants to Palestine would accept such solution in the forties of the last century. I even said in a humoristic way that he behaves like the Arab regimes that he wants me to say what he likes to hear, and not what I really think. He was not happy of what I said, then he told me that he will call me again, but he never did.
Today after 14 years of the agreement I, like all my Palestinian country men and woman feel the bitterness of this harvest. It is obvious that the Palestinian leaders who negotiated with Israel went into the opposite logic, at least compared with other national movements. Other national movements fight first the proxy government made by the occupation; In Palestine Israel failed to create a cooperating Palestinian corporation of proxy government, yet the tragic thing is that “we” negotiated Israel in order to have a proxy government and regardless of the intention of the Palestinian negotiators that is what has become of the Oslo accord, continuous occupation with a Palestinian stamp. Some may come with the argument that the Palestinian authority government has brought some positive things. This is controversial, but if it true the damage which occurred to the whole struggle is huge compared with the minor benefits if existed. Therefore I believe this period must be the period of drawing clearer and even sharper lines. In other words we need to make a clear and sharp demarcation message to all concerned that Palestinians are not interested any longer in time wasted negotiations. In the shadow of this type of negotiations Israel is imposing facts on the ground which will complicate the whole struggle. Future negotiations must be based on international resolutions and laws and not on the mood of the negotiators. In the absence of clear cut rod instrument made sharply by Palestinians Israel is able to coin false statements such the statement that there is no Palestinian partner for peace, the counter statement should be that Israel is not ready to respect the international resolutions ,when it is ready Palestinians are there. In fact Palestinian negotiators do not have to do much work other than to fill their suit cases the UN resolutions which are the valid references for this conflict. Yet before anything done in this regard the Palestinian duty on the domestic level must be done in great responsibility where the priority for the Palestinian political parties must start in recognizing the simple fact that there is no wisdom at all to go to negotiate the enemy while fighting the brother.
-A Palestinian-Norwegian historian in the Middle East, who has written extensively on social and political issues in the region. He can be contacted at: email@example.com (Miftah.org; Sep 22, 2007)