Israeli Experts Ridicule Reported Abbas Threat to Cancel Oslo Accords
According to reports in the Arab press, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is on the verge of announcing he is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords.
“The Palestinian leadership has decided to terminate the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip known as the Oslo Accords II, which was signed in Taba [Egypt] on September 28, 1995,” Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani told the independent Palestinian new agency, Ma’an, on Sunday. “In light of the lack of commitment by Israel, the Palestinian leadership has decided that it isn’t bound by the agreement anymore and President Abbas will announce that before the U.N. General Assembly.”
Majdalani said that a draft of this decision will be put before the Palestine National Council, when it convenes September 14-15, and that it will likely be approved.
International law expert Alan Baker, the director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told The Algemeiner on Monday that such a threat on the part of the Palestinians is “credible inasmuch as Abbas has the tendency to use the U.N. as a convenient and popular forum for dramatic and theatrical actions as PR bluffs.”
Baker, a former Israeli ambassador to Canada — who later served as a legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, where he took part in the negotiation and drafting of treaties with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians – explained why he does not believe the touted move will have practical or legal significance.
“Legally, Abbas can’t declare the PA to be an occupied state, because it’s not a state to begin with, for two main reasons,” Baker said. “The first is that the 2012 U.N. General Assembly upgrade resolution did not create a Palestinian state; it merely acknowledged and upgraded its observer status within the U.N. The second is that Abbas’s commitment in the Oslo accords to negotiate permanent status is indicative of his acknowledgment that the PA is not yet a state, pending final agreement. Nothing has changed in this regard.”
Nor does Baker think that if Abbas goes through with his intention to declare Oslo null and void at the General Assembly, it will have serious repercussions on Israel.
However, Baker added, “By voiding the Oslo Accords, he will be canceling his own job as rais [Arabic for president]; canceling the Palestinian Authority and its institutions; canceling security cooperation [with Israel]; canceling the joint economic framework which guarantees transfer of tax funds; canceling water cooperation; and causing serious hardships to his people.”
As for the response of the international community to the threatened action, Baker said, “They’ll probably applaud Abbas, out of their blatant double standard, and he’ll get his PR success — which he needs, given his fragile internal position; no political achievements; no unification with Hamas; and no capability of moving anything forward.”
Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and an expert on Middle Eastern issues and Israeli national security, had a similar response to the idea that Abbas intends to tell the U.N. that he is no longer obligated to fulfill his obligations in the Oslo Accords.
“It’s an empty threat,” Inbar told The Algemeiner on Monday. “Abbas has no legitimacy as a leader. The Palestinians don’t care what he says. He is not known for getting things done.”
Nor would the PA president “cut himself off from the billions he receives,” Inbar added.
“The whole Palestinian national movement is dysfunctional,” he concluded. “And Abbas embodies that dysfunction.”
Oslo II, the accord in question, is the second agreement reached between Israel and the PLO. The first was signed in Washington, D.C. in 1993; the second in Taba in 1995. Together, they jump-started what has come to be called the “Oslo process,” whose ultimate aim was mutual recognition and peace between Israel and the PLO, and “self-determination” for the Palestinian people.
The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority. They were also responsible for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize being awarded jointly to PLO chief Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”