ALLMEP Recognizes the 30th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords in Berlin
This week, ALLMEP marked the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords in Berlin. The event, titled, “30 Years after the Oslo Accords: Reflections of the Past, Realities of the Present and a Resilient Vision for the Future,” was cosponsored by the German-Israeli Future Forum and hosted by the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, and explored lessons from Oslo and the thirty years that followed it, as well as new strategies to restore a diplomatic horizon and hope for equality, justice, and lasting peace.
September 13, 1993 was globally regarded as a success for Israeli-Palestinian peace. There, on the White House lawn, the Declaration of Principles was signed and the iconic handshake moment was broadcast right around the world. But, the moment that the signatories’ pens hit paper, the two populations were expected to stop seeing one another as enemies and start trusting one another as honest partners in a new strategic peace process. No matter how well structured and thoughtful the Oslo plan was, there remained major hurdles to getting local populations on board. As a result, instead of peace, the thirty years that followed brought increased violence, mistrust, and pain.
In thinking through this 30-year history, and the challenging legacy that Oslo has left behind, ALLMEP brought together expert panelists to think through the successes, shortcomings, and next steps for the peacebuilding community. ALLMEP was joined by Eran Nissan, an Israeli civil society activist and CEO of ALLMEP member Mehazkim, Dr. Ulrich Ernst, Head of the Near East Division at the German Foreign Ministry, and Dr. Tamar Or, Executive Director of the German-Israeli Future Forum, and also featured ALLMEP’s Executive Director, John Lyndon, and Regional Chief of Staff, Nivine Sandouka.
The speakers explored not only the history of Oslo, but also the way forward. As Tamara Or emphasized in her speech, “Oslo was possible because people imagined a different future from the past and the present. Our imagination of a different peaceful future is our compass for the future. And the fact that thousands of Israelis and Palestinians are still engaged in building cooperation, shared societies and mutual understanding is a reason for hope.”
Kristin Katherine Johanson, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, emphasized Norway’s unwavering commitment to a two-state solution and its active involvement in fostering civil society peacebuilding initiatives, particularly among youth groups. Dr. Yair Hirschfeld, a pivotal figure in the Oslo peace process, provided valuable insights into the genesis of the Oslo Accords and the painstaking efforts to establish trust between the conflicting parties. He also underscored the transformative potential of the Abraham Accords in forging stronger regional relationships. The discussion then delved into a comprehensive review spanning three decades: reflecting on the past since the accords, assessing the current realities, and charting a visionary path for the future. Nivine Sandouka offered a poignant reflection on how Oslo impacted the Palestinian reality in East Jerusalem, shedding light on the initial hopes and subsequent disillusionment. Eran Nissan, representing the post-Oslo generation, shared his perspective as a former combat soldier turned peace activist. He underscored the pivotal role that young Israelis and Palestinians can and should assume in upholding the beacon of hope. Ulrich Ernst emphasized the crucial role that civil society can play in shaping the agenda for political actors, prodding them towards the negotiation table, and catalyzing change in local dynamics to create space for diplomacy.
The event concluded with an engaging Q&A session, exploring avenues to incorporate Palestinian interests within the framework of the Abraham Accords. Additionally, the discussion revolved around Europe’s potential role in leveraging the accords for peacebuilding, and considerations regarding the impact of Netanyahu’s trial on the rule of law and Israeli society at large were also addressed.
As we continue to reflect on the 30 years since Oslo and the path forward for peace, follow along as ALLMEP continues to share its analysis. As the lessons of Oslo have demonstrated, there can be no political solution without grassroots peacebuilding.