Palestine: Part 27 – Persian Gulf and Oslo
Palestine: Part 26 – The First Intifada
The Intifada caught the PLO by surprise and the leadership abroad could only indirectly influence the events. A new local leadership emerged, the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU), comprising many leading Palestinian factions. After King Hussein of Jordan proclaimed the administrative and legal separation of the West Bank from Jordan in 1988, the Palestine National Council adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in Algiers, proclaiming an independent State of Palestine. The declaration made reference to UN resolutions without explicitly mentioning Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Persian Gulf War
The Palestinian expulsion from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. There were 400,000 Palestinians in Kuwait before the Gulf War. During the Gulf War, 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to various reasons (food shortages, medical care difficulties, financial shortages, fear of arrest and mistreatment at roadblocks by Iraqis). After the Gulf War in 1991, nearly 200,000 Palestinians fled Kuwait, partly due to economic burdens, regulations on residence and fear of abuse by Kuwaiti security forces. The policy which partly led to this exodus was a response to the alignment of PLO leader Yasser Arafat with Saddam Hussein.
The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the Oslo I Accord, signed in Oslo in 1993 and the Oslo II Accord, signed in Taba in 1995. The Oslo Accords marked the start of the Oslo process, a peace process that is aimed at achieving a peace-treaty based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and 338, and to fulfill the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. The Oslo process started after secret negotiations in Oslo, resulting in the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in negotiations.
The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority, whose functions are the limited self-governance over parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and, it acknowledged that the PLO is now Israel’s partner in permanent status negotiations about the remaining issues. The most important issues are the borders of Israel and Palestine, the Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, the question of Israel’s military presence in and control over the remaining territories after the recognition of the Palestinian autonomy by Israel, and the Palestinian right of return. The Oslo Accords, however, did not create a Palestinian state.
Specifically, The Accords granted the Palestinians right to self-government on the Gaza Strip and the city of Jericho in the West Bank through the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Yasser Arafat was appointed head of the Palestinian Authority and a timetable for elections was laid out which saw Arafat elected president. Although the PLO and the PA are not formally linked, the PLO dominates the administration.
Some Palestinian officials have stated that the peace treaty must be viewed as permanent. According to some polls, a majority of Israelis believed Palestinians should have a state of their own marking a major shift in attitude after Oslo though Israeli state officials opposed the creation of a Palestinian state both before and after the Accord. At the same time, a significant portion of the Israeli public and some political leaders express doubt over whether a peaceful, coherent state can be founded by the PLO, and called for significant re-organization, including the elimination of all terrorism, before any talk about independence.
Palestine: Part 28 – The Second Intifada