President, Palestinian Authority
I admit that I never believed the moment would come when I would have to write these words. I am doing so because U.S. President Barack Obama has convinced you not to announce, at this point in time, the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority's institutions and the "return of the keys" of authority for the Palestinian territories to Israel. Because there have never been serious negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the last three years, and because you did not want to perpetuate the myth that a meaningful dialogue existed, you have been sorely tempted to declare the death of the "peace process" -- but the American president urged you to maintain the status quo. It is a mistake to agree to Obama's request, and you can rectify this.
The Oslo Accords were a tremendous victory for the peace camps on both sides. And this agreement did not fail. It was thwarted. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Palestinian terrorism, and the political victories of the opponents of the agreement -- both on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side -- have turned the agreement into a device that has allowed the parties to block a two-state solution.
Oslo's opponents, on both sides, were initially startled by a process that promised to lead to a partition of the land in a few years. They later turned Oslo into a tool to prevent partition by prolonging the interim agreement, claiming that, as long as it is not replaced by a permanent agreement, it must continue and be binding to both sides. Oslo's adversaries have turned the interim agreement, which was supposed to last not more than six years and serve only as a pathway to a final solution, into an arena where they can continue to build settlements or spin their dreams of an Islamic empire, without the world putting serious pressure on them to put an end to the conflict.
The extremists' gutting of the Oslo agreement has been complete. They have uprooted the permanent-status negotiations -- where the two sides pledged to tackle core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees, and the future of Israeli settlements -- from the peace process. They have succeeded in preventing the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, the establishment of two capitals in the current area of Jerusalem, the formulation of appropriate security arrangements, and a fitting symbolic and economic resolution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees -- as was proposed in the Geneva Accord, in which you were involved in all of the details. Their aim is to perpetuate the interim process indefinitely, and every single day that passes plays into their hands.
One simply cannot continue with an interim arrangement for almost 20 years. This was not the intention when we spearheaded the Oslo process in late 1992 -- you from Tunis and I from Jerusalem -- or when we assiduously worked on what subsequently became known as the "Beilin-Abu Mazen Agreement" between 1993 and 1995.
You and I both understand that the current situation is a ticking time bomb. From my point of view, what is at stake is the loss of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. From yours, it is the loss of the chance for an independent Palestinian state. And from both of our points of view, the failure of the two-state solution risks a renewal of terrible violence.
Anyone who believes these things must take action. You can do it, and for this step you do not need a partner. A declaration of the end of the Oslo process -- justified by the fact that the path to a permanent-status agreement is blocked -- is the most reasonable, nonviolent option for putting the subject back on the world's agenda, with the aim of renewing genuine efforts to reach a conclusive solution.