from Jewish Virtual Library
Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, marking the end of 30 years of relentless hostility and five costly wars. The treaty was preceded by Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem (1977), at the invitation of Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin, as well as the signing of the Camp David Accords (1978) which constituted a basis for peace between Egypt and Israel and between Israel and its other neighbors. The accords also addressed the need to solve the Palestinian issue, following a five-year interim phase of autonomy for the Palestinian Arab residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip. President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prizefor their achievement.
The peace implemented between Israel and Egypt consists of several major elements, including the termination of the state of war as well as acts or threats of belligerency, hostility or violence; the establishment of diplomatic, economic and cultural ties; the removal of barriers to trade and freedom of movement; and withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai peninsula, with agreed security arrangements and limited force zones. Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai (1982) according to the terms of the treaty, giving up strategic military bases and other assets in exchange for peace.
Although Egypt was ostracized by other Arab states following the signing of the treaty, most have since reestablished relations with Egypt and reopened their embassies in Cairo. The headquarters of the Arab League, which had been transferred to Tunis, were reinstated in Cairo in the early 1980s.
Having to overcome 30 years of distrust and hostility, normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt is a long and arduous process. Yet, embassies and consulates have been established by both countries, and meetings between government ministers and high-ranking officials take place regularly.
In 2004, Egypt and Israel signed a Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) Agreement under which jointly produced goods enter the U.S. market duty free as part of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement. As a result of the QIZ, Israeli exports to Egypt grew 110% in 2005.
Following the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000), relations cooled considerably and Egypt recalled its ambassador, who later returned. Even during the tense period, cooperation continued in agriculture, and the joint military committee met regularly. As the Palestinian War wound down in 2005, Egypt’s trade with Israel picked up, and was expected to rise 130 per cent as a result of a U.S.-brokered agreement that created an estimated 15,000 Egyptian jobs.Egyptian-Israeli trade will rise from $58 million in 2004 to a projected $134 million in 2005. The volume is small — Egypt’s global exports are worth about $12 billion a year, Israel’s are about $30 billion — but the growth in trade is a positive development in the relationship. Still, Israeli investment in Egypt remains stagnant, largely because of lingering distrust and political sentiment.
In 2005, Israel signed an agreement to buy 1.7 billion cubic feet of Egyptian natural gas for an estimated $2.5 billion over 15 years, fulfilling a commitment made in an addendum to the peace treaty.
The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, signed at the Aqaba-Eilat border crossing (October 1994), was preceded by a meeting of King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington three months earlier when the two leaders proclaimed an end to the state of war between their countries.
Although de facto at war with each other for 46 years, Israel and Jordan had maintained secret contacts and concluded mutually beneficial agreements throughout that entire period. The 1991 Madrid Conference led to public bilateral talks, culminating in a formal treaty (1994) in which both countries have undertaken to refrain from acts of belligerency, to ensure that no threats of violence to the other will originate within their territory, to endeavor to prevent terrorism and act together to achieve security and cooperation in the Middle East by replacing military preparedness with confidence-building measures. Other provisions include agreed allocations from existing water resources, freedom of passage for nationals of both countries, efforts to alleviate the refugee problem and cooperation in the development of the Jordan Rift Valley. The international boundary delineated in the treaty has replaced the 1949 cease-fire lines and is delimited with reference to the British Mandate boundary (1922-48).
With the ratification of the peace treaty, full diplomatic relations were established and, since then, the relationship between Israel and Jordan has been moving forward steadily.
The basis for implementation of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was established with the signing and ratification of 15 bilateral agreements in economic, scientific and cultural spheres. These treaties are to serve as the foundation of peaceful relations between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The most significant expression of the peaceful relations is QIZ. (Qualifying Industrial Zones) which enables Jordan, via cooperation with Israel, to export to the U.S. quota-free and tariff-free commodities worth some $200 million. Israel is also cooperating with Jordan in two agricultural projects and in public health.
King Abdullah II, who succeeded his father in March 1999, visited Israel in April 2000. Following the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000) in the territories, relations with Jordan cooled and Jordan recalled its ambassador.
In June 2003, King Abdullah II hosted a summit in Aqaba with President Bush and with Prime Ministers Sharon and Abu-Mazen. In April 2004, King Abdullah II visited Prime Minister Sharon at his residence in the Negev.
A joint Israeli-Jordanian exercise to practice responding to pollution in the Red Sea was staged on November 22, 2004, in the Eilat-Aqaba Bay. Israel sent 14 ships, members of the water-pollution-unit in Eilat, and workers of the Environment Ministry to participate.
In 2005, bilateral cooperation increased as officials met to discuss a variety of issues including cooperation in fighting the spread of bird flu. Jordanian exports to Israel grew and Jordan’s ambassador returned to Israel after a five-year absence to protest Israel’s policies in the territories.
In 1994, three North African Arab states – Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia – joined other Arab countries and chose to take the path of peace and reconciliation by forming diplomatic ties with Israel.
Initiated in different ways at various levels, relations between Morocco and Israel were formalized when Israel opened a liaison office (November 1994) in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. Four months later, Morocco opened its office in Israel, thus formally establishing bilateral diplomatic relations.
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Israel concluded an agreement at the Barcelona Conference (November 1995), in the presence of the Spanish foreign minister, to establish interest sections in the Spanish embassies in Tel Aviv and Nouakchott, respectively. Mauritania opened its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv (May 1996) and indicated its wish to fully normalize relations with Israel.
In October 1999, Mauritania became the third Arab country (after Egypt and Jordan) to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
Following a timetable worked out by Israel, Tunisia and the United States (January 1996), Israel opened an interest office in Tunisia (April 1996), and Tunisia reciprocated six weeks later (May 1996).
Diplomatic relations with the moderate Maghreb countries are important because of the role that these countries play in the Arab world, and also because of Israel’s large population of North African emigrés who retain an emotional attachment to the countries where their families lived for many centuries. This affinity is an asset which may lead to more profound relationshipsand make a practical contribution to the peace process.
After the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000), Morocco and Tunisia broke off diplomatic ties with Israel. Nevertheless, some commercial relations continue, as well as contacts in other fields.
Twenty Years to Oslo
BESA Center (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies)
Prof. Efraim Inbar
September 10, 2013
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The abject failure of the Oslo Accords has had a salutary effect on Israeli society. Israelis are today quite resilient; ready to endure – if necessary – protracted conflict, until the Palestinians adopt reasonable positions. Israelis are also quite understandably unwilling to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians.
The Oslo process – started between Israel and the Palestinians 20 years ago – clearly failed to bring a resolution to the conflict, and did not result in a peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. The nearly 1,500 Israeli casualties and many more thousands of wounded during this period by Palestinian terrorist and rocket attacks testify to this failure. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s land-for-security formula did not work. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority (PA), established within the framework of the Oslo process, now rules in the West Bank and promotes anti-Israel hatred through its education system and controlled media. Furthermore, Hamas, an Islamist organization dedicated to destroy the Jewish state, rules Gaza, continuing the armed struggle against Israel.
The current peace negotiations are unlikely to change the status quo. The chances that they will lead to the establishment of a stable, unified, and peaceful Palestinian state are nil. The differences in positions, particularly on refugees and Jerusalem, are unbridgeable. Moreover, the PA has displayed considerable difficulties in state building, and the resulting entity borders on a failed state. It failed to meet the essential test of statehood, monopoly over the use of force, and subsequently lost control over part of its territory, Gaza. It is hard to imagine the PA surviving without the infusion of billions of dollars of international aid. The PA mirrors the deep socio-economic and political crisis of several Arab states, putting a big question mark on the capacity of the Arab political culture to sustain modern states. Finally, both sides of the ethno-religious conflict still have the energy to fight over the things important to them. Such protracted conflicts usually end only if at least one side displays great weariness of the conflict.
Therefore, twenty years after Oslo we are left with the entrenchment of two revisionist Palestinian national movements, one traditional and one Islamist, in parts of Palestine. Palestinian-controlled territories are nothing more than local bases of terror against Israel. Yet, Palestinian terror has largely been contained and more vigorous Israeli actions could further limit its impact on Israeli lives.
The Palestinian ability to exact great political cost is somewhat exaggerated as long as Israel benefits from moderate American diplomatic support. Appeals to ineffective international forums can be ignored, while some international institutions have only limited impact. Similarly, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has largely failed, although some of its long-range ramifications should be a source of concern. Significantly, most world states prefer not to link their bilateral relations with Israel to the oscillations in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Moreover, the awareness that the Palestinians are not ripe for statehood has slowly spread into foreign policy decision-making forums. Subsequently, we also can detect greater international indifference to the Palestinian issue, particularly among Arab states, as plenty of crises in the Middle East and elsewhere attract greater attention.
All of the above means that the conflict with the Palestinians will not end any time soon, but that the situation is bearable. Israel’s strategy in the past decade, conflict management rather than conflict resolution, should continue. Israel must display willingness to negotiate boldly and make concessions. In fact, the continuing turmoil in the Middle East sensitizes the international community to Israel’s security needs, which reduces pressures for meeting impossible Palestinian territorial demands.
Israel must also point out that the fractured Oslo process has brought about one more partition of Palestine (the Land of Israel). The first partition, imposed by the British colonial power, took place in 1922, when 75 percent of mandatory Palestine, the area east of the Jordan River, was taken away from the Jewish national home to be given to a throne-less Hashemite to establish the Jordanian Kingdom. A second partition, this time of western Palestine, was the result of the Arab conquests in the 1948 War (Jordan took control of the “West Bank” and Egypt of the Gaza Strip), leading to the so-called “1967 borders,” which were actually erased following the Arab aggression in 1967.
The Oslo process amounts to a third partition because it led to a situation where eventually more than 95 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and all of the Palestinians in Gaza are living under Palestinian rule. As we have seen in other parts of the world, partitions can be messy and without clear-cut political outcomes. The limited Israeli military presence in the West Bank is only marginally concerned with the welfare of the Palestinians; the security of the Israelis is its main goal. Israel is no longer responsible for the Palestinians and they are on their own. Despite the anti-Israel rhetoric, the “occupation” of the Palestinians has practically ended. Anyone visiting Ramallah, with its cafes and shopping centers, can see it for himself.
While the Oslo process failed to attain peace and security for Israel, it was conducive to a partition of the Land of Israel, relieving Israel of the Palestinian burden. Most Israelis have supported the traditional Zionist pro-partition position. They also supported the withdrawal from Gaza and the establishment of a security barrier that signal a desire to disengage from territories heavily populated by Arabs.
Israeli society paid dearly for the Oslo experiment. It can honestly say, “We tried to make peace with the Palestinians,” which is a prerequisite for treating future armed conflict as a “no-choice (Ein Breira) war.” Such an attitude, prevalent during the Oslo years, has been central in forging great Israeli resilience to withstand protracted conflict, and an unwillingness to make dangerous concessions.