Oslo Accords | Just Vision Skip to main content

The glossary is comprised of nearly 250 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, these terms cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. This tool is meant as a starting point and we encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Last update and review: September 2015.

Oslo Accords

Also referred to as the Oslo Agreements, or, simply, "Oslo." The Oslo Accords are a series of agreements that launched the Oslo Process, aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Oslo Process was unveiled with the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, and was the first peace agreement signed by Israelis and Palestinians. It was preceded by a series of backchannel meetings begun by academics under the aegis of the Norwegian government, which, over a period of months, became official, though still secret. Israel recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative body of the Palestinian people and the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security. The DOP called for a phased peace process that would lead to a permanent settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on United Nation Resolutions 242 and United Nations Resolution 338. The agreement did not directly address the key "permanent status" issues of water, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and borders, but set up a structure for them to be negotiated at a later stage of the process, once trust was built. It also led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement. The Oslo Process was set back with the assassination of Rabin in November 1995, and by a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings as well as an Israeli attack on Lebanon in 1996. The election of Benjamin Netanyahu (who opposed the Oslo Accords) as Israeli Prime Minister in May 1996 made continuing the Process more difficult. Additionally, Israel expanded settlements and erected more checkpoints after the start of the Oslo Process, causing many Palestinians (even ones who has supported the Process initially) to feel the occupation was becoming even more entrenched under Oslo. After the failure of the Camp David (II) Summit in 2000 and the subsequent outbreak of the Second Intifada, the Oslo Process collapsed. In retrospect, majorities of both sides tend to see the Process as a mistake, with each side convinced the other had no real intention of making peace. There are many criticisms of the Accords themselves, including that the text never mentioned nor promised an independent Palestinian state. See "The Morning After," Edward Said, London Review of Books, October 21, 1993; and "Arafat's Camel," Avi Shlaim, London Review of Books, October 21, 2003. See also "It's now clear: the Oslo peace accords were wrecked by Netanyahu's bad faith,"; Avi Shlaim, The Guardian, Sept 12, 2013; and "The Oslo Accords, 20 Years Later," Institute for Middle East Understanding, Sept 11, 2013.