Term Paper: US Israel Relations Specifically Oslo Accords

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U.S. / Israel Relations

Israel Relations the Oslo Accords

Since the end of World War II, the Arab Israeli conflict has been increasingly brought to the forefront. As U.S. foreign policy has continued to focus on addressing this underlying conflict that has been taking place. Part of the reason for this, was because of the continued state of war that exists between Israel and the Palestinians. What happened was the land that Israel is located on, is considered to be the ancient homeland for both Jews and Palestinians going back to biblical times. However, over the centuries the area that is now: modern day Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were controlled by a variety of different foreign powers (ranging from the Romans to the Ottoman Turks). In 1917, the British would take control of the area. This was in response to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. As a result, the Balfour Declaration was released, which supported the idea of Jewish state in the area known as Palestine. This is important, because this would mark a turning point, in the idea of an independent Jewish state located in the Holly Land. After the end of World War II, the British wanted to withdraw from the area and created two states (Palestine as well as Israel). This would spark a war between the Arabs (lead by the Palestinians) and the Israelis. Despite being outnumbered by nearly 20 to 1 odds, Israel prevailed. At which point, the Arab nations and the Palestinians would vow to destroy the Jewish state at all costs. This would set the stage for series of wars that would take place from the 1950's into the 1960's. Where, Israeli Defense Forces would capture the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At which point, they would attempt to annex these areas by allowing new Jewish settlers to build homes in these locations (settlements). This angered the Palestinians, who felt that Israel was essentially stealing their land piece by piece. At the same time, there was the constant support of terrorist activities, against Israel, by the Soviet Union and other Arab states. This would lead to a contentious atmosphere that would set the stage for constant violence and fighting between both sides. However, by the late 1980's, these views would begin to change. As the violence could spark a desire from each party seek out some kind of settlement, in an effort to end the decades of hostilities. From the Palestinian point view, the downfall of the Soviet Union and the negative backlash from terrorism would spark a shift in focus from various officials. As they were willing to accept certain terms such as: Israel's right to exist in exchange for normalized relations and a withdrawal of Israel forces from Palestinian territories. At the same time, Israel wanted an end to all hostilities and the Palestinians to openly renounce terrorism as well as other acts of violence directed against them. This is significant, because it shows the overall background that existed in the late 1980's and early 1990's. As this would present a unique opportunity for the leaders of both countries to be able to form a lasting partnership based on mutual respect and trust. (Deeb 1 -- 7) This would set the stage for the Oslo accords in 1993, as they would mark a turning point in Israeli Palestinian relations. However, to fully understand the relevance of this agreement requires examining U.S. foreign policy towards Israel, specifically through the accords. This will be accomplished through looking at: different elements of the agreement, the motives of U.S. policy and practical reasons for the accords as well as consequences. Once this takes place, it will provide the greatest insights as to how U.S. foreign policy has helped to shape the Oslo Accords and the larger Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Elements of the Oslo Accords

The Oslo Accords are based upon a number of different principals to include: establishing conditions for elections, the wit drawl of Israeli forces, economic cooperation and economic development. The establishing of conditions for elections is: creating various procedures for conducting elections, to determine a representative government for the Palestinians. (User 8 -- 9) This is important, because it would establish a representative government that the Israelis could directly negotiate with, versus negotiating with various factions such as: Fatah and Hamas.

The withdrawal of Israeli forces, called for all military units to leave the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. At the same time, Palestinian police forces would be recruited and work with international officials; to create security elements in the areas left behind by withdrawing Israeli troops. This is important, because it would set the stage for the Palestinians to have their borders set along the original 1948 partitions. (User 8 -- 9)

Economic cooperation would take place through the establishment of an Israeli Palestinian Committee for Economic Cooperation. They would focus on a number of different areas to include: environmental protection, water usage / rights, electricity, finance, energy, trade / commerce, transport / communication, social welfare, industry and communication / media. This is significant, because it is establishing how the two sides would work together on addressing various economic issues that affect both nations. (User 8 -- 9)

Regional development is when the two sides agreed to work together, to increase economic growth throughout the region. This is important, because it shows how the accords are establishing foundation of economic cooperation that will have an impact upon the entire Middle East. (User 8 -- 9)

When you put these different elements together, this highlights how a basic foundation has been established for future Israeli Palestinian relations. As they are created in various areas that the two sides can actively work in concert with one another (to address the animosity created from decades of war). As a result, this would establish a foundation for all peace talks moving forward.

Drawbacks of the Oslo Accords

The biggest drawback of the Oslo Accords is that they did not address the underlying challenges facing both sides. Where, the Accords would provide a basic foundation for establishing a peace process, yet they would push the most contentious issues down the road. This includes: who would controls the city of Jerusalem, the issue of settlements in the occupied territories, possible shortages / embargos and increased violence. These different elements are important, because without addressing them during in the Oslo Accords, they would set the stage for violations of various principals by both sides. Once this took place, it would cause the overall amount of animosity and mistrust to increase. Where, each side began to view these violations, as attempts to exert undue amounts of influence upon the other. Over the course of time this would undermine the accords, as it would establish a continuation of the violence and division surrounding this issue. A good example of this can be seen with idea of controversial areas such as Jerusalem. As the UN has proposed placing these areas under international control. However, the Israel rejected such views, for out of fear that they could lose influence during the process. At the same time, they are unwilling to bend for the Palestinians on this issue, as the Israelis are continuing to insist that Jerusalem is their traditional capital. While the Palestinians claim that the city was taken during the Six Day War of 1967 (which is the capital of Palestine). This is problematic, because the unwillingness of both sides to bend on this issue shows the overall contention that exists. As a result, this a major drawback of the Oslo Accords, with them being able to establish general principals, while ignoring the most heated issues. This is important, because it shows how this would help to undermine the general provisions of the accords. (Lochery 41 -- 60)

The Motives for U.S. Policy

The heart of the U.S. policy in the Middle East from 1980 onward was the desire to maintain a balance of power in the region. This was because the U.S. wanted to counterbalance the influence of the Soviet Union and they wanted to contain the emergence of fundamentalist regimes (such as Iran). After the Gulf War ended, the U.S. continued to work at maintaining this balance of power. The problem was that this balance had shifted because of the war. As Iraq would be severely weakened and subject to various sanctions as well as embargos. At the same time, Arab allies that the U.S. was dependent upon for oil (from nations such as Saudi Arabia) would be increasingly questioned. As the relationship would highlight the dependency of these governments on U.S. support. This is important, because from a foreign policy perspective, these shifts could reduce the overall amount of influence that the U.S. would have. (Massoulile 152 -- 155)

At the same time, Israel began to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians on the issue of peace talks. By August 1993, these talks had become so successful that the Israeli Prime Minister… [END OF PREVIEW]

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