Capitalising on Oslo

El-Sayed Amin Shalaby
Thursday 24 Sep 2020

Building on its successful mediation that culminated in the 1993 Oslo Accords, will Norway revive its diplomatic role for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?

After the UAE and Bahrain had signed peace deals with Israel, Arab countries stressed they support peace initiatives based on Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian lands and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinians, however, believe the latest peace accords do not encourage Israel to withdraw from their lands, saying that Israel occupied more Palestinian lands and built more settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem after some Arab countries had stricken peace agreements with Israel.

The current stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts brings to mind the nine-month closed negotiations the Norwegian diplomatic circle held when I served as Egypt’s ambassador in Norway from 1990 to 1994. The talks Norway spearheaded between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation culminated in the Oslo Accords signed in Washington in 1993. The deal was seen as a breakthrough in Palestinian-Israeli relations. However, the rising right wing led by Benjamin Netanyahu has subtracted hope in peace from the equation.

Will Norway, building on its past efforts and accumulated experience of over 30 years on this file, renew its diplomatic efforts to revive the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis? The Palestinian cause is in the international community’s spotlight and I believe a Norwegian diplomatic intervention will receive international support.

During Oslo, as is the case at present, Norway enjoyed the credence of both parties, the Israelis and Palestinians, having no self or regional interests to garner from the success or failure of talks. Norway sought justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis. 

How Israel may respond to Norwegian efforts now will test the efficacy of the recent peace deals Israel signed to create an environment that further promotes comprehensive peace that grants the Palestinians’ rights.

*The writer is former ambassador of Egypt in Norway.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 September, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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