The Oslo Accords were a series of agreements negotiated between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, acting as representatives of the Palestinian people) in 1993 as part of a peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, officially called the Declaration of Principles. Despite the high hopes expressed in the Accords and in the subsequent agreements, which also promised the normalization of Israel's relations with the Arab world, the problem has not been resolved.
The talks leading to the agreement were initiated by the Norwegian government, who were at reasonably good terms with both parties. Main architects behind the plan was Johan Jørgen Holst (the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs), Terje Rød-Larsen and Mona Juul. The negotiations were undertaken in total secrecy in and around Oslo, with breakthrough meetings taking place in the home of Minister Holst, and was signed on August 20, 1993. There was a subsequent public ceremony in Washington D.C. on September 13, 1993 with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.
Principles of the Accords
In essence, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the Palestinian right to self-government within those areas through the creation of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian rule would last for a five year interim period during which permanent status would be negotiated (beginning not later than May 1996). Permanent issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, Israeli settlements in the area, security and borders were deliberately excluded from the Accords and determined as not prejudged. The interim self-government was to be granted in phases. Until a final status accord was made, West Bank and Gaza would be divided into three zones:
- Area A - full control of the Palestinian Authority.
- Area B - Palestinian civil control, Israeli military control.
- Area C - full Israeli control.
Together with the principles the two groups signed Letters of Mutual Recognition - The Israeli government recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people while the PLO recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist and renounced terrorism, violence and its desire for the destruction of Israel.
In addition to the first accord, namely the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government, other more specific accords are often informally known as Oslo. The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (also called Oslo 2), signed in September 1995 which gave the Palestinians self-rule in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm, and some 450 villages.
Additional Israeli-Palestinian documents related to the Oslo Accords are the 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area (May 4, 1994), the 1994 Washington Declaration (July 25, 1994), the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities Between Israel and the PLO (August 29, 1994), the 1997 Protocol on Redeployment in Hebron (January 15, 1997) and the 1998 Wye River Memorandum (October 23, 1998).
History of the Accords
In 2000 United States President Bill Clinton sought to keep the "Oslo Peace Process" moving forward by convening a summit between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This Camp David 2000 Summit ended in failure, with no resolution to the conflict. The al-Aqsa Intifada that started in 2000 following the collapse of the summit added to the crumbling of the credibility of the Oslo Accords, to the point that by 2003 the right wing in Israel, and Palestinian Islamic groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah considered the accords to be dead for all practical purposes, and Israel unequivocally refused to deal with Yassir Arafat, considered a terrorist by the government of Ariel Sharon. In this climate, much of 2001, 2002, and early 2003 saw an escalation of violence by Palestinian suicide bombers and the military re-occupation of the West Bank by the Israel Defence Force that made further discussions unlikely.
In an attempt to break this "cycle of violence", the Mideast Quartet (the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations), devised what they called a "road map for peace" intended to lead to a cease-fire and restart the negotiations and the stalled peace process. Long-delayed, it was finally released by United States President George W. Bush on April 30, 2003. See the road map for peace article for further details and analysis of its reception. After nearly a year with no progress, on April 15, 2004, President George W. Bush stated: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities..." and "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel." 
Loss of credibility
Since the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Oslo Accords are viewed with increasing disfavor by the Israeli public. In May 2000, seven years after the Oslo Accords and five months before the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a survey by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at the University of Tel Aviv found that: 39% of all Israelis support the Accords and that 32% believe that the Accords will result on peace in the next few years. . By contrast, the May 2004 survey found that 26% of all Israelis support the Accords and 18% believe that the Accords will result in peace in the next few years.
Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties