US Israel embassy move infringes Oslo Peace Agreements / News / The Foreigner

US Israel embassy move infringes Oslo Peace Agreements. EXTENDED ARTICLE: The PLO threatens to revoke its recognition of Israel if Donald Trump moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Sources on Palestine and Israel tell The Foreigner that sagacity and caution are needed. “One of the measures we are considering seriously is the issue of mutual recognition between the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation)  and Israel. [It] is not valid any more doing this,” senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters this week, referring to the announced relocation. And in a letter to incoming US President Donald Trump, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas has warned that this “will likely have disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law.”

jerusalem, palestinians, israel, trump, embassy, america, telaviv, president, politics, conflict, paywall



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US Israel embassy move infringes Oslo Peace Agreements

Published on Friday, 13th January, 2017 at 13:38 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Charlotte Bryan   .
Last Updated on 17th January 2017 at 14:37.

EXTENDED ARTICLE: The PLO threatens to revoke its recognition of Israel if Donald Trump moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Sources on Palestine and Israel tell The Foreigner that sagacity and caution are needed.

Donald Trump
President-Elect Trump announced in the middle of his campaign that he would be moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Donald Trump
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons


“One of the measures we are considering seriously is the issue of mutual recognition between the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation)  and Israel. [It] is not valid any more doing this,” senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters this week, referring to the announced relocation.

And in a letter to incoming US President Donald Trump, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas has warned that this “will likely have disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law.”

Senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh has also said that said “The US is a witness to the Oslo agreement, signed in the White House in front of President [Bill] Clinton. This is an international commitment.”

Norway’s role

For the first time, Israel and the PLO announced formal mutual recognition in 1993, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed the historic Oslo Peace Accord (Oslo I).

Clinton, Rabin, Arafat at the White House
Clinton, Rabin, Arafat at the White House
Vince Musi / The White House
Final status of Jerusalem territory had been left for further negotiations after the Oslo peace Accords were signed – Oslo II was signed in Taba, Egypt, in 1995, the year after Arafat, Rabin, and Shimon Peres, then Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

August 1993 saw the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (DoP), also referred to as the Oslo Peace Accord, initialled during a secret ceremony at the Norwegian Government Guest House in the Norwegian capital. This occurred during an official visit by Peres to Norway – an occasion that was purportedly about quite different matters.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Abu Ala, and his Israeli counterpart Uri Savir, signed the Accord, which was witnessed by then Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst.

The role of Norway, whose Prime Minister at that time was Labour’s (Ap) Gro Harlem Brundtland, in her third term in power, was mainly as a facilitator in the process leading up to the 1993 Peace Accord.

Policy reversal

Speculation about the decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem arose following Donald Trump’s announcement to the American Israel Public Affair Committee (Aipac) lobbying group in the middle of his election campaign last year.

U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv (2008)
U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv (2008)
Krokodyl/Wikimedia Commons
“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem – and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” he said.

Last week, three Republican Senators introduced a bill to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel and move the US embassy there. Relocation would reverse decades of US policy, which currently states that the status of East Jerusalem should be decided in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel’s occupation of the eastern – and mainly Arab – side of the city, which happened during the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, is considered illegal under international law. Israel’s passing of a law in 1980, making its annexation of East Jerusalem explicit, is not recognised internationally.

“If Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem that would be the end of the two-state solution. Trump would be giving away something that is not his to give,” senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh has told reporters.

“Highly provocative”

Kathrine Jensen, Chair of the Palestine Committee of Norway, tells The Foreigner that Trump’s announced US embassy move is “highly provocative. And the only country in the world that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is Israel itself.”

Palestine Committee's Kathrine Jensen
Palestine Committee's Kathrine Jensen
GGAADD/Flickr (2014, Oslo)
What do you think of the PLO’s statement?

“It’s very understandable that the PLO threatens to revoke their recognition of the state of Israel. The statement is powerful, but it seems unlikely that they will follow it through. There is little or nothing to gain from it.”

“At the same time, it’s a good thing, as it might make it clear that the PLO does in fact recognise Israel as a state. Israel constantly claims that the Palestinians don’t, but by signing the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognized Israel as a state within the pre-1967 borders,” Ms Jensen adds.

President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told The UN General Assembly in New York in 2015 that Palestinians will no longer continue to be bound by the Oslo Accords unless they get international protection. He also called for the some 20-year-old peace agreements to be updated.

“Israel has repeatedly broken the agreement, so why should the Palestinians feel obligated to continue to respect the agreement?” states The Palestine Committee of Norway’s Kathrine Jensen.

“To talk about Israel and Palestine as two equal sides in a conflict, that both have to give in order to achieve peace, is completely ignoring the fact that this is occupation. There’s no such thing as a two-state solution when the situation on the ground shows that there’s a one-state reality,” she continues.

Wait and see                       

It has not yet been announced which part of Jerusalem is being considered regarding the planned US embassy relocation. Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to the EU, and now researcher for The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, lists other variables.

Overlooking Jerusalem
Overlooking Jerusalem
Neta Bartal/Flickr
“We’ll have to see what the actual formal decision and its context is when it happens. It can be carried out in various forms. For example, the US can direct its ambassador to operate from a building in Jerusalem while the embassy is still located in Tel Aviv, and we don’t even know whether this would be in the western or eastern part yet,” he remarks.

What is your view of what the PLO says?

“We can call threats by various people, including the PLO, as early warning shots. I’m not sure what impact these will have on the upcoming US President’s decision. At the same time, it’s a fact that all states who conduct affairs with Israel recognise West Jerusalem as being the capital, and countries’ ambassadors present their credentials to the President of Israel when they arrive, and he represents sovereignty.”

And how might the decision affect matters and/or the Oslo Peace Accords?

“I’m not sure what the big deal is if Trump tells the US Ambassador to be located in west Jerusalem.”

“As things should be”

Dan Poraz, Deputy Chief of Mission at Israel’s embassy in Oslo, states that the Accords are still binding today, almost 34 years later, and that “I can’t really see how moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital of Israel, where the embassy should be in the first place, is breaching the Accords in anyway.”

Israel's embassy in Oslo, Norway
Israel's embassy in Oslo, Norway
Kjetil Ree/Creative Commons Licence
What impact do you think moving the Embassy to Jerusalem – whether this is West or East as is currently – would have?

“The Western part of Jerusalem is recognized by the US as being under Israeli sovereignty, which is academic to the Palestinians. The PLO has said that moving it would lead to violence, which we saw in the form of this week’s terror attack committed in Jerusalem. These types of statements are dangerous.”

What do you think Donald Trump would gain from this move, if undertaken?

“He’s said that he would do this more than once during his campaign. So firstly, he would gain the trust of voters, the international community, and people all over the world by delivering on this – unlike previous statements made by others in the past. And secondly, is surrendering to threats a reason not to move the embassy, when Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?”

Politically expedient

Israel would also gain from Trump’s move, as many people there would feel encouraged, according to Mr Poraz.

“It sends a clear signal that their greatest ally [the US] recognizes Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel. It would definitely signal that things are moving in the right direction, in their view. Moreover, moving the embassy doesn’t contradict any desire for a peaceful two-state solution, unlike what some Palestinian officials have said in the past few days,” he explains.

Rabin and Arafat at 1996 WEF meeting
Rabin and Arafat at 1996 WEF meeting
World Economic Forum
At the same time, the Oslo Accords have long-ceased to exist as a legal document and long-expired as such, says Cnaan Liphshiz, Europe correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and a former reporter for Haaretz.

“They are now just a loose set of principles which are abandoned by both parties whenever politically expedient. Therefore it [the PLO’s statement] is an empty threat designed to look legalistic,” he adds.

Mr Liphshiz, also an ex-counterintelligence analyst for the Israel Defence Forces, advises caution when it comes to the matter of moving the US’ embassy in Israel.

“Ultimately, the reaction of the Palestinian Authority will come down to what's wise for its survival, which is the determining consideration for many non-democratic regimes. Upsetting the status quo on the ground in a major way is not wise for the Palestinian Authority's survival,” he concludes.

Further reading:

History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – BBC
The Six-Day War – Encyclopaedia Britannica
Norway’s involvement in Middle East peace process – Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Oslo Accords hopes unfulfilled 20 years on – France24




Published on Friday, 13th January, 2017 at 13:38 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Charlotte Bryan   .
Last updated on 17th January 2017 at 14:37.

This post has the following tags: jerusalem, palestinians, israel, trump, embassy, america, telaviv, president, politics, conflict, paywall.





  
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