The First Intifada
The First Intifada refers to a series of violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis between 1987 and approximately 1993, when the Oslo Accords were signed and the Palestinian National Authority was established.
A growing sense of frustration among Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank, but also in Gaza, at the lack of progress in finding a durable resolution for their humanitarian and nationalistic claims after the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the Six-Day War in 1967. The Palestine Liberation Organization had failed to make any significant headway against Israel since the 1960s, and had in 1982 been forced to establish its offices in Tunis, Morocco. Although all Arab states, with the exception of Egypt, maintained an official state of war with Israel, rhetoric was toned down in the mid-1980s, and Palestinians found advocacy on their behalf weakened. Israeli military control over Southern Lebanon and the continued Israeli military administration of the West Bank and Gaza fed a growing discontent with the status quo.
Muslim clerics used their pulpits to speak against the Israeli government, and when an Israeli was stabbed to death on December 6, 1987 while shopping in Gaza, tensions grew. When four Palestinian refugees from the Jabalya camp were killed in a traffic accident in Gaza the following day, rioting broke out in Jabalya. One Palestinian was killed by Israeli soldiers during these riots, sparking further riots.
The Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, also known as the "Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements" were finalized in Oslo, Norway on August 20, 1993, and subsequently officially signed at a public ceremony in Washington D.C on September 13, 1993, during which Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ended decades as sworn enemies with an uneasy handshake.
The Oslo Accords were part of a peace process trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite the high hopes expressed in the Accords and in the subsequent agreements, the conflict has not been resolved.
The main points of the Oslo Accords (or Declaration of Principles = DOP):
- Transfer of Powers to the Palestinians: The DOP features an agreement in principle regarding a transfer of power and responsibilities to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, so they may have control over their own affairs.
- The DOP does not prejudge the Permanent Status: The DOP specifically states that permanent status issues, such as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements and borders are to be excluded from the interim arrangements and that the outcome of the permanent status talks should not be prejudged or preempted by the interim arrangements. During this period, the Israeli government retains sole responsibility for foreign affairs, defense and borders. Israel's position on Jerusalem remains unchanged. When the DOP was signed, Prime Minister Rabin stated that "Jerusalem is the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish people." An undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, with religious freedom for all, is and remains a fundamental Israeli position.
- Security remains an Israeli responsibility: In the DOP, Israel and the PLO agree that during the interim period, Israel will remain responsible for security along the international borders and the crossing points to Egypt and Jordan. Israel will also retain responsibility for and the overall security of Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli settlements in those areas, and freedom of movement on roads.