Oslo Handshake

by jlibscott
Last updated 7 years ago

Social Studies

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Oslo Handshake

According to Greg Unger in his book, The Fall of the House of Bush (Scribner's, 2007), Rabin really did not want to shake hands with his counterpart, the controversial Palestinian leader, Yassir Arafat. He knew that the gesture would bring about strong reactions from extremists on both sides. But, Clinton instisted, and would later write "All the world was cheering [the handshake], except the diehard protesters in the Middle East who were inciting violence, and demonstrators in front of the White House claiming we were endangering Israel’s security.”SOURCE: http://www.historycommons.org/ entity.jsp?entity=yitzhak_rabin_1

The famous handshake on Sept. 13, 1993 on the White House Lawn between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, under the benign urging of President Bill Clinton, accompanied the signing of the first part of what became known as the Oslo accords. Photograph taken by Gary Hershorn / Reuters

Photo AnalysisBased on what we know about the circumstances, one can read the discomfort on Prime Minister Rabin's face. His smile seems forced or smirking. It is also easy to see that President Clinton is urging this by the location of his hands behind each gentleman.

In 1993, the government of Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) began a series of secret talks in the Norwegian city of Oslo. The purpose was to try to bring an end to the 50 plus years of hostilities between Palesinians and Israelies. After eleven rounds of talks in the summer of 1993, they reached a provisional agreement on partial autonomy in the occupied territories -- the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This so-called "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements" (DOP) set out specific steps to reach a permanent solution to the conflict and established a five-year timetable over which to complete them. The accords planned that Israel would transfer portions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the control of a new body, the Palestinian Authority, which would be elected by the Palestinian people. The authority would guarantee Israel's security by fighting terrorism. This would enable the parties to build enough trust and confidence to proceed with negotiations on the "final status" that was to occur in 1999. Following the accords there was a violent backlash of political upheaval and suicide bombings, and the 1999 final status was never reached.SOURCE: Diner, Shira M. "Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accord." Dictionary of American History. Scribner's, 2003.


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