Oslo and the Middle East Peace Process: The Negotiating Dilemma   [open pdf - 3MB]

With the increased threat posed by terrorism and the growth of rogue states' the importance of achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East is greater than ever. However, the peace begun in Madrid in 1991 and marked by the historic 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the PLO has floundered. This thesis provides a means for understanding the failure of the current peace process by analyzing why Israel and the PLO agreed to the terms of Oslo. While Israel was motivated by the opportunity to solve its security and political dilemmas on acceptable terms, the PLO was motivated primarily by concerns of organizational survival. The Oslo process departs from other successful settlements in two ways. First, Oslo focused on short-term arrangements, without consensus on the nature of the final outcome. An examination of successful settlements shows that the parties agreed to the outlines of a final settlement prior to commencing formal negotiations. Second, the vast imbalance of power between the two parties has made Oslo a hegemonic peace, which itself perpetuates instability in both the weaker and stronger states. Only parties enjoying a relative balance of power have concluded successful peace settlements in the Middle East. Given these structural anomalies, I conclude that the Oslo peace process will not achieve a lasting,peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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