The Promise of Oslo Thirty Years Later
By: The Very Reverend William B. Lane
Thirty years ago on the 13th of September, with a great deal of fanfare, the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization met in Washington and signed the Oslo Accords. For many of us, this was an occasion for hope, a promising signal of a brighter day in the Middle East. The Accords established a process of land for peace in Israel/Palestine; the ultimate outcome being two states- Israel and Palestine, with peace and justice for all.
Thirty years later, what we celebrated as the dawn of a new day for the peoples of Palestine/Israel has failed to deliver. The hope and promise of September 13, 1993 has proved to be an illusion. On that day we were like the people of Jeremiah’s time, hearing words of peace, when there is no peace.
Looking back amid present-day realities, it is clear the Accords were flawed. Critical issues such as the settlement process and the status of Jerusalem were pushed to the end of the process. Only a very limited sovereignty for the Palestinian State was proposed. The process espoused was so open-ended that it was doomed to fail as an instrument for justice and peace. Any possibility of two independent states is now in the rearview mirror. The respect for the dignity and rights of all is far from being realized.
The recent military attack on Jenin in occupied Palestine by the State of Israel is yet another sign of the Israeli/Palestinian tragedy. Indeed, more evidence that the promise of Oslo is now in the shadows. The American administration says the State of Israel has the right to defend itself and provides arms and finances for it to do so. But this same administration fails to be assertive in demanding cessation and rollback of settlement incursion into the twenty-two percent of the land that is for the State of Palestine.
We Americans are ignoring reality when we say that we must leave the achievement of peace, justice, and human rights to the two parties. We are deeply involved, morally, economically, and politically. By hosting and witnessing the signing of the Accords thirty years ago, we became part of the process. We share in its failure and must be part of salvaging its promise. And for those of us in the Jesus Movement, we do so in hope and expectation. With confidence that peacemaking is indeed a blessed task.
Let Us Pray:
Almighty God, we pray that the blessings of justice and peace be realized in the land of Israel/Palestine; and that our nation be an instrument in achieving, not hindering, those blessings. May the sword give way to the plowshare and hostility to respect. You have created Palestinian and Israeli alike in your image, establishing the dignity and humanity of both. One is not more precious in your sight than the other. So, may the peacemakers not grow weary, and the seekers of justice not give up the search. The acceptable time for justice and peace is always now, there is never an unacceptable time. In the words of your servant Amos: Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Holy God, hear our prayer. Amen.
About the Author: The Very Reverend William B. Lane is a retired Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem PA and is presently active in the Episcopal Church in Delaware. He is a founding member of Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace and has been in Palestine/Israel on numerous occasions.
Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).