Benjamin Netanyahu: Putting “an End to the Oslo Accords” & the Two-State Solution

July 22, 2024 IMEU
Benjamin Netanyahu: Putting “an End to the Oslo Accords” & the Two-State Solution
Screenshot of 2001 video of Netanyahu bragging about sabotaging the Oslo Accords.
 
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked relentlessly since the early 1990s to undermine US-sponsored negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state as part of the “two-state solution” advocated by the US and international community, flouting US policy on Israeli settlements built illegally on occupied Palestinian land that is supposed to comprise a Palestinian state.

Sabotaging the Oslo Accords

  • Netanyahu made his political name in the 1990s opposing the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization under US auspices, leading a vicious campaign of incitement against the negotiations and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, including speaking at rallies where Rabin was accused of being a traitor and a Nazi. After Rabin’s assassination in 1995 by a right-wing Israeli, Rabin’s family and many others put partial blame on Netanyahu for his death.
  • Seven months after Rabin’s assassination, Netanyahu became prime minister for his first term (1996-99). While in office, he dragged out the negotiations begun under Rabin while delaying and refusing to implement previously signed agreements and expanding settlements, antagonizing Palestinian negotiators and President Bill Clinton. Following his first meeting with Netanyahu in 1996, Clinton exclaimed: “Who the f--k does he think he is? Who's the f---ing superpower here?" By the time Netanyahu left office in 1999, Israel’s military occupation and settlements were more deeply entrenched than ever and the Oslo negotiations were on the verge of collapse. Just over a year later, the Second Intifada (uprising) against Israel’s then-33-old military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza began.
  • In 2001, Netanyahu was caught on video boasting to a group of settlers: "I de facto put an end to the Oslo Accords.” He also claimed that he knew how to manipulate Americans, stating: "I know what America is… America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”

Opposition to Israel’s withdrawal of settlers from Gaza

  • In 2005, then-Finance Minister Netanyahu resigned from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government in protest of Sharon’s plan to withdraw approximately 8,000 settlers from Gaza and four small settlements in the West Bank under the so-called Gaza “disengagement” plan. Even though the plan was designed to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state by alleviating international pressure on Israel to negotiate, allowing Israel to continue settlement expansion in the larger and more resource rich occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, “freezing of the peace process” and putting Palestinian statehood in “formaldehyde, as a senior advisor to Sharon explained, Netanyahu resigned because he opposed withdrawing from any Palestinian land. (Note: Under international law, Israel’s military occupation of Gaza did not end with the withdrawal of settlers in 2005.)

2009-Present: Killing the two-state solution with settlement expansion

  • Since returning to power in 2009 for his second term, Netanyahu has been in office continuously except for a period of 18 months from June 2021 to December 2022. In that time, his governments have massively expanded settlements on occupied Palestinian land while he has repeatedly declared his categorical opposition to Palestinian statehood and rebuffed US attempts to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. As he boasted in a video released in February 2024: “everyone knows that I am the one who for decades blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state."
  • In 2010, Netanyahu’s government approved a plan to build 1,600 settlement units on occupied Palestinian land in East Jerusalem the day before then-Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for an official visit while President Barack Obama was attempting to restart talks. Biden condemned the decision, declaring: "It is incumbent on both parties to build an atmosphere of support for negotiations and not to complicate them… Yesterday the decision by the Israeli government to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem undermines that very trust.”
  • Between 2009 and 2020, Netanyahu’s governments began construction on more than 23,696 settlement units on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). In 2023, Israel set an all-time annual record in just the first six months of the year, approving 12,855 settlement units in the West Bank and publishing tenders for the construction of 1,289 units that were previously approved. Netanyahu’s government also legalized 22 settlement “outposts” that were built in violation of Israeli law as well as international law. In late June 2024, Israel approved the single largest seizure of Palestinian land in the West Bank in more than three decades, more than 3,100 acres.
  • Today, there are more than 700,000 Israeli settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of longstanding US policy and international law, in about 350 official and unofficial settlements. Many settlements are strategically located to divide Palestinian communities and dissect the West Bank, cementing Israeli control over the land, making it easier for Israel’s occupying army to control the Palestinian population, and making the establishment of a geographically contiguous Palestinian state impossible.


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