It has recently been reported that Israel is currently mulling the annulment of the Oslo Accords as a means of retribution against the Palestinian Authority, should it indeed go to the UN with a bid to recognize a Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders. Before Israel finds itself entangled in yet another act of folly, we would do well to examine the practical implications of the proposed move.
Annulling the Oslo Accords means terminating the Palestinian Authority, as the agreements featured a gradual diplomatic process destined to culminate in the establishment of a Palestinian state. The PA was established based on the same agreements: A temporary government system meant to run the lives of Palestinians until a state is established. The PA was assigned various authorities and given areas in Judea, Samaria and Gaza where it can exercise civilian control.
Objectors to the Palestinian state viewed the Oslo Accords as the beginning of destruction. Yet for those who seek a Palestinian state or believe that its establishment is inevitable, the agreement constituted a sort of advance payment: Alongside the self-government arrangement, it included Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel within the 1967 borders.
Almost 20 years have passed since. The “transitional period” goes on and on, yet the Palestinian Authority is still running the affairs of Arab civilians there. Yet now, so we are told, Israel is mulling the option of punishing the PA by annulling the agreement.
Before the PA’s establishment, Israel managed day-to-day life in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza region, as it was obligated to do under international law pertaining to military occupation. Israel maintained all systems of civilian life in Gaza: Internal security, economy and finance, education, health, banking, communication, electricity, water, medicine, transportation, planning and construction, infrastructure, and all other services required by a population of millions.
Mopping the streets of Ramallah
As income revenues in the Palestinian areas are meager, Israeli taxpayers funded the huge sums requires for managing Palestinian civilian life. The Civil Administration in the territories was not only expensive, but worse, bothersome and at times corrupt. Just like any military administration that manages civilian lives, it caused Israel terrible public relations damage.
It is therefore difficult to fathom why the current government – whose governing abilities prompted protests and tent cities nationwide – would risk a move that may impose on it the management of millions of Palestinian lives. Where will this government draw the billions of shekels required to do so? Where will it recruit the manpower for the job? Moreover, at this day and age the whole world is monitoring developments in the territories, so Israel will have to provide superb service there.
Irresponsible ideas may prompt negative developments involuntarily. Will the annulment of the Oslo Accords and dismantlement of the PA indeed constitute a punishment for the Palestinians? This is highly doubtful. Quite a few Palestinian spokespeople are calling for the annulment of the agreements and PA because of the practical and diplomatic advantages they granted Israel: In the framework of agreement, the Palestinians recognized the 1967 borders, and the creation of the PA, they say, was a mistake; a transitional agreement that perpetuated itself.
Under this state of affairs, they say, Israel enjoys the best of both worlds: It is the occupier, the military sovereign in Judea and Samaria, ruling the area and exercising its authority in all areas of life – while the PA bears the responsibility for the day-to-day life with its meager means, mostly acquired through global donations.
One Palestinian, a very serious man, told me that in his view the limited self-government enjoyed by the PA is not worth the burden of responsibility imposed on it, and hence “it would be better to have full occupation, where Israel runs life.”
As the government continues to toy with the foolish notion of annulling the Oslo Accords, it may find itself, heaven forbid, finding Palestinian agreement to do this. The Palestinians will then “learn the lesson,” while we shall be back to mopping the streets of Ramallah.
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