Middle East Roundtable
Sharon Travels to Oslo
and Revisits Peace
International Herald Tribune, 16 July 2003
Terje Roed-Larsen, the writer is the UN special envoy
to the Middle East and an architect of both the Oslo accords and the road
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JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of
Israel visits Norway for the first time. His trip is loaded with symbolism.
To many people, Norway's capital Oslo shares its name
with the much-maligned peace plan between Israel and the Palestine
Liberation Organization - which marks its 10th anniversary this summer.
Recently, Sharon courageously accepted the latest attempt to forge Middle
East peace, the Quartet's road map (authored by the diplomatic coalition of
Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.)
By doing so, the Israeli prime minister effectively returns to the
As I write this, I can picture many Palestinians and Israelis from across
the political spectrum throwing up their arms, rolling their eyes, and
crying out, “Enough!” To some of them, and many disinterested observers,
Oslo was a failure. Better leave it, they say, in the overflowing dustbin of
other failed peacemaking efforts.
But if you pin any hopes on the road map succeeding, then you must recognize
that this really is just the next stage, and the last, along the Oslo road.
The journey started on Sept. 13, 1993, with the Declaration of Principles.
This process was based on gradual steps, taken in parallel, that encompassed
political, economic and security moves.
The road map embodies the exact same principles and explicitly builds on
Oslo's series of accords, the only agreements ever signed between Israel and
the PLO. Moreover, by accepting the road map, the government of Israel has
entered into a partnership for peace with the Palestinian institutions
created by Oslo: the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative
Council and the Palestinian security forces.
The road map may be the continuation of Oslo, but there are important
differences in its approach. The drafters of the road map learned from the
cardinal mistake in the Oslo accords, the absence of a third party
monitoring system. The road map has a mechanism, with broad and deep
international backing, to oversee the parties' adherence to their
But the major difference is that while the original Oslo map was open-ended,
the current plan has a stated end goal - two universally recognized states,
Palestine and Israel, which have full diplomatic relations with each other.
If the road map attains this goal, it will have fulfilled the aspirations of
An explicit end goal could not be stated ten years ago, simply because there
was no possibility in Israel, even on the left, to get a popular consensus
on the establishment of a state of Palestine. A decade on, the Oslo process
has produced an ideological revolution in Israel: not only do the political
left and center now support the establishment of a state of Palestine, but
so does Israel's Likud prime minister. In this sense, Sharon's trip to
Norway symbolizes that he is poised to travel further down the Oslo path
than any Israeli leader before him.
It would be naïve to believe that words can automatically be translated into
a just and durable peace. Based on a true ceasefire, Sharon knows that his
historic pronouncements must be matched by decisive first steps by West Bank
checkpoints and settler outposts and releasing Palestinian prisoners. The
Palestinian Authority on their side must ensure that a declared ceasefire
takes hold and establish a monopoly on the control of arms.
To truly fulfill the goals of Oslo and the road map, Israel must also take
another step in its ideological revolution: removing settlements, stopping
ongoing West Bank and expropriation and, eventually, withdrawing from land
Israel occupied in 1967. As the road map states, this must be accompanied by
an end to all Palestinian violence and terror.
Sharon arrives in Norway amidst controversy, as many seek to focus on his
actions in Israel's past wars. But when he meets his Norwegian counterpart,
Kjell Magne Bondevik, Sharon deserves credit for the bold steps he has taken
back to the negotiating table first set in Norway a decade ago. This is the
time for encouragement - not for opening up quarrels between the past and
the present, which might lead to a loss of the future.
Scharon in Norwegen:
Kein Wort über
Israels PM bestand darauf, bei seinem Norwegen Besuch, die
Hauptstadt Oslo zu umgehen und kam direkt in die Kleinstadt Molde...
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