Co-opting the PLO : a critical reconstruction of the Oslo Accords, 1993-1995
This study analyses the Oslo Accords, the interim self-government agreements signed between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), during the period 1993-1995. It suggests that the Israeli recognition of the PLO as the official representative of the Palestinian people did not translate into an acceptance that the Palestinians possessed an equal national right to the territories that both peoples claimed. The acceptance of the PLO as a strategic partner ironically served to consolidate Israel's post-1967 settlement presence in the West Bank and Gaza strip. It provided Israel with the means to achieve a separation of peoples without a withdrawal from the occupied territories, to keep the land but not its indigenous population. Through the structure of the Palestinian interim self- governing agreements, the Rabin government sought to 'persuade' the PLO to abandon its goal of Palestinian statehood through a complex co-optation process. In this situation, Israel would control the terms and momentum of the interim period, bringing the PLO into a position of substantial authority under its aegis while simultaneously creating an irreversible fait accompli that would impel the Palestinian leadership to forego its demands for sovereignty and settle for an alternative, permanently sub-sovereign final status arrangement instead. But in contrast to preceding analyses of Oslo, this study argues that these circumstances cannot be wholly interpreted in Realist terms, as an instance of traditional power politics or an act of shrewd statecraft. It is undeniably true that the key Israeli leaders at the time, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, were manipulating the Oslo Accords to their own ends, but this deliberative process cannot be fully explained at the level of agency. It must instead be understood as reflecting a new logic of rule that has been explicated in the works of the theorists Gilles Deleuze and Michael Hardt.