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End of the Oslo Era

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, May 28

Despite the enduring COVID-19 crisis and the media’s preoccupation with covering the disease, the brutal wars unfolding in the Middle East have not waned. The Syrian crisis is still unfolding with great intensity, with regional powers like Turkey and Iran and foreign powers such as the United States and Russia getting increasingly involved. Despite the spread of the virus, fighting in the country has only intensified. In Yemen, despite a temporary ceasefire, clashes between the legitimate government and the Southern Transitional Council have renewed, leading to even more bloodshed. And in Palestine, Israeli plans to annex large swaths of Palestinian lands are moving forward despite the virus. Just last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his intention to annex the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In response, the Palestinian leadership finally announced the cancellation of the quarter-of-a-century-old Oslo Accords, which served as the basis for the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. This Palestinian move did not surprise anyone. The Palestinians have been keeping their mouths shut for too long. Even after the United States revealed its humiliating “deal of the century” in January 2020, stripping the Palestinians away of their rights and offering them nothing in return, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remained diplomatic. But with the wake of continuous Israeli and American violations of the Oslo Accords and deep disrespect for the Palestinians, Abu Mazen finally decided to take action. This move is not without a price. The internal Palestinian divide is at its peak. There are deep-seated disagreements even within the PLO, making it even more difficult to unite the Palestinian leadership around the cause. However, despite the internal Palestinian divisions, the biggest difficulty faced by its leadership is actually its inability to make legitimate use of weapons. This situation completely prevents the use of armed force in service of the Palestinian national cause. With limited diplomatic tools at its disposal, the Palestinian leadership is highly limited in achieving liberation from the Israeli occupation. No less dangerous than that is the fact that the Oslo Accords also limit the Palestinian’s economic prosperity, by controlling the Palestinian economy, restricting who can and cannot work, and regulating travel throughout the West Bank. Sadly for the Palestinians, the present-day health crisis, combined economic turmoil, has rendered the world oblivious to the Palestinian cause. The fact that public support for the two-state solution is declining on the Israeli side, coupled with Trump’s blind support for the Israelis, certainly doesn’t bode well for the Palestinians. – Abdel Moneim Saeed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)