Analysts and former officials are dissecting what went wrong since the signing of the Oslo Accords 25 years ago this week. Palestinian terrorism and incitement, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, faulty strategies and tactics, and American hubris are among the reasons cited for Oslo’s failure.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved without Israeli and Palestinian leaders in place who are willing and capable of reaching and implementing an historic compromise.

These leaders will need the United States, their regional neighbors, the international community, and their diaspora communities to support their efforts to reach a viable agreement, not create additional obstacles.

Over the past 25 years, this Rubik’s Cube of Middle East peacemaking has consistently failed to align, and today, the pieces have never been more scrambled:

  • A majority of the members of the right-wing Israeli government are publicly opposed to the concept of a two-state solution. A plurality but not a majority of Israelis support it.
  • The Palestinian leadership is divided. Two-thirds of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, and he vacillates between talk of compromise and anti-Semitic rhetoric. More Palestinians than ever are expressing support for a one-state solution that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
  • The United States has refused to endorse the two-state concept and has completely aligned its policies with the Israeli far right: prejudging sensitive issues to be negotiated such as the final status of Jerusalem, cutting all UNRWA and USAID assistance, including support to East Jerusalem hospitals, and closing the PLO mission in Washington, DC. Read our statement on recent US actions.
  • The Arab states are preoccupied with their own internal threats as well as the external threat posed by Iran and its proxies.
  • ​The international community is fatigued with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is also focused on other pressing matters.
  • Rejectionists in the United States and Europe have championed the counterproductive boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as well as a right of return for five million Palestinian refugees and their offspring, which threatens Israel’s very existence.
  • Finally, the Jewish diaspora, particularly in the United States, is increasingly disaffected with the issue of Middle East peace and is fiercely divided along political, denominational, and generational lines.

​Realigning these various components could take years, if not decades. In fact, ensuring that the pieces would never fall into place has been the goal of the opponents of the Oslo process all along. It is much easier to scramble a Rubik’s Cube than to solve it.

But progress can be made even if all of the factors are not in alignment. We must do our part in the United States and in the American Jewish community.

Upon taking office in 1993, Prime Minister Rabin was skeptical that the American Jewish community would support his efforts to advance the peace process. In his final meeting with American Jewish leaders before his assassination, Rabin was reportedly “breathtakingly blunt” in his criticism of the lack of support he received from the community.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved tomorrow. But that does not mean that we should sit around and wait for another handshake to materialize. Much as everyone recognizes that it will take years of effort on the part of the parties themselves, it will take years of preparing the ground for that effort to be successful.

The time is now to communicate to our political leaders and to our fellow Jewish community members that we support the goal of two states and that it is critical to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state that the conditions for two states be preserved.

Susie Gelman
Board Chair

David A. Halperin
Executive Director