Nabil Amr
Palestinian writer and politician

Some of Oslo in Lebanon

More profound than an understanding between two belligerents, the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo Accords, at their core, are an approach. The Accords changed the rules, turning them from rules governing the conflict to rules governing the settlement.

What Palestine’s Oslo Accords and Lebanon’s recent deal have in common is that both sides to the partial agreements pointed to indications (which are not necessarily accurate) that they had achieved everything they had hoped for.

Those behind Palestine’s Oslo claimed that they had put their feet on national territory and begun a five-year journey, being embarked upon with international support, towards a state of their own. Meanwhile, the Israelis managed to ratify the agreement by a single vote, which is comparable to the Lebanese deal that will not be put to vote for fear that the one vote by which Oslo had passed would push in the opposite direction.

At the time, the Israelis claimed that they had reached a security agreement that would be tested politically on a daily basis. In light of the results of this test, as they are judged by the Israelis- both the opponent and the referee here- Oslo would either continue along its path and lead to the Palestinians reaching their objective, or it would deviate from this path and veer toward Israel’s objective.

Oslo was shaped by the limited framework that was brought to light in Madrid by the alliance of the Rabin-Peres duo, just as the duo of Lapid-Gantz will bring the Lebanese agreement to light. And, just like the Arab vote allowed the Palestinian Oslo Accords to pass, the Arab vote was decisive in solidifying the position of the duo supporting the Lebanese Oslo, as Mansour Abbas granted Lapid and Gantz the vote they needed.

In both bases, Benjamin Netanyahu, who removed the godfathers of the Palestinian Oslo from power through an alliance with Sharon, lurks behind the door. And here he is today, promising to bring down the godfathers of the Lebanese version. He only needs one vote to tilt the balance and overturn everything that has been achieved by those who had removed him from office. Another similarity is that relying on US support for the agreement is not justified; their support is not an absolute guarantee.

This is the conclusion we have reached from what happened with the Palestinian Oslo. Despite the fact that the agreement between Palestine and Israel was preliminarily achieved behind the back of the US administration at the time, the latter took over, adopting it, committing to it, and spending money on it.

Nonetheless, this did not prevent Netanyahu and Sharon from revolting against it and annulling everything it gave the Palestinians once the duo came to power.

The two men totally reversed course, and we are currently seeing the state of affairs they have created with our own eyes, even with Lapid and Gantz in power.

The Palestinians- that is, the people of the Palestinian Liberation Organization- went to Oslo feeling the real pressure of difficult circumstances that forced them to do so. As for pressures facing Lebanon, they would be difficult to overstate, and despite the differences in time and setting, the incentives leading to what we ended up with in both cases are similar. It is still too early to draw conclusions, and in this context, we should point to the stance of Hamas regarding the Palestinian Oslo and that of Hezbollah regarding the Lebanese version. In fact, they are not totally identical, but some similarities deserve our attention nonetheless.

Regardless of the statements made to save face, Hamas pursued a policy of putting the agreement on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s shoulders. It stood behind the door, positioning itself in a manner that allowed it to take the initiative and decide matters, issuing statements from time to time in which it would say that nothing that had been achieved would have been possible if it hadn’t been for the armed resistance of Hamas, and claiming, when it needed to, that it had the capacity to turn the tables whenever it wanted to.

The direction being taken and the manner in which the matter is invested are similar. As for the differences, they will not change the results in any way.

By the logic of power relations and the influence that crises have on conclusions, stances, and policies, Lebanon was granted enough to claim, albeit with some benign misrepresentation, that it received everything it had wanted. By this same logic, Gantz and Lapid are pushing the argument that the agreement’s benefits are two-sided.

On the one hand, they claim, with a healthy dose of opportunism as they try to appeal to the electorate, that the agreement will help Lebanon find a way out of its crushing crisis and liberate it from subordination to Iran. On the other hand, they say it will provide the Israeli treasury with billions of dollars from the Karish gas field and whatever Israel gets from the Qana gas field.

The unanimity of the Lebanese in welcoming the deal, regardless of divergences in how positively they see it, is a rare and promising development in a country whose people do not unanimously agree on anything.

The next few days, with their ramifications, developments, and surprises, will help us answer an extremely important question: will other matters be built upon this consensus or what?

We will see…