The Oslo Accords were a Failure

By | September 13, 2018

[September 13, 2018]  In 1994, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”  The problem, as we can see 25 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords on this date, September 13, 1993, that the entire accords were a disaster and a failure at nearly every level.

I believe that it is valuable to look back to any major event that affects the strategic position of nations and evaluate how senior-level decisions faired in the long term.  We can do this with the Oslo Accords which everyone, including U.S. President Bill Clinton, had high hopes of fixing one of the most irresolvable problems in modern times.

The basis of the Oslo Accords was to bring peace when peace was not wanted.  On the 20th anniversary of the accords, Michael Freud looked back for a thorough analysis and blow-by-blow explanation of the main political players and the background on which the idealism was centered.  In fact, he calls it one of the “greatest strategic blunders in [Israel’s] modern history.”

“Oslo was a disaster. It divided the people and land of Israel, failed to bring peace, established a hostile Palestinian entity, weakened the Jewish state’s deterrence posture and empowered Hamas.” – Michael Freud, Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2013

 One problem, as Freud noted, is that a basic understanding of diplomacy is that you cannot make a deal with a terrorist or a terrorist organization.  A second problem is that the leaders in Israel have refused to acknowledge the mistakes made during the negotiations and signing of accords and the damage caused to both Israel and the Palestinian peoples.

Arafat and his political friends got enormously rich, personally.  Rabin was assassinated two years after the signing at the end of a rally to support the Oslo Accords in Tel Aviv.1

The failure of the Oslo Accords, however, can be laid at the feet of Yasser Arafat.  A few years after the accords were signed; there was a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks when buses were blowing up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  Only then did the people of Israel begin to realize the magnitude of the failures of their leaders.

Jonathan S. Tobin writes that “we should mark this anniversary by giving up on the illusions that were paid for in blood and crushed hopes.”2  Today, United States’ leaders should pay close attention to the failures of Jewish, American, and Palestinian leaders at Oslo.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “The Oslo Accords were a Failure

  1. Ronny Fsher

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for another lesson in “how not to be a leader” from a long string of historical examples. Learning how others have failed can amazingly help you not to fail, but only if you take such lessons to heart.

  2. Lynn Pitts

    Gen. Satterfield, I hope your visit to Fort Leonard Wood went well yesterday. Thanks for another good article for me and others here at your website to put into our website on how leadership can sometimes fail even when you have all the right resources and people in place to make it happen.

    1. Mike Baker

      So very true. Thanks for the continued insights here, Lynn.

  3. Bill Sanders Jr.

    This was a strategic lesson learned the hard way.

  4. Mark Evans

    Thank you, General Satterfield for a look back in history about something that should be a valuable lesson for everyone that is in a leadership position. Dumbing down on this issue has been the canary in the mine for many of our political leaders. They should have been ashamed of what the results turned out to be.

    1. Drew Dill

      History will be repeated if you don’t learn from it. Especially the failures.

  5. Danny Burkholder

    I always wondered about how this came about. I clearly remember all the hoopla about how wonderful the Oslo Accords were and how much “peace” would not be the norm in the Middle East. The opposite occurred.

  6. Janna Faulkner

    When big mistakes are made by big leaders, everyone suffers. This is a classic were that happened. The peoples of both Israel and “Palestine” have suffered for it since the beginning. I think each had their own expectations of what the accords were about. The US was just blind to it and the complexity of the relations between the two. But most important is the lesson you cannot use civilized methods with terrorists.

  7. Jerome Smith

    Interesting article today on something I really gave no thought to. I see others are also writing about it and how it was “great” or how it “failed.” I appreciate the new perspective.

  8. Scotty Bush

    My grandfather was part of helping make the Oslo Accords happen. He worked in the US Dept of State at the time and he always told me (after a year of its implementation) how much it failed to live up to its potential and how senior policy makers denied that it failed.

    1. Eric Coda

      Yes, hard to get this view unless you were there or knew someone. That is why it so important that a leader has a network of people they know and trust and who can bring to them what is really happening.

  9. Dale Paul Fox

    Sitting here, drinking my coffee, petting my dog, and reading your article. Thank you for the continued education.

  10. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Good historical info. Even great leaders can make a mistake but we also know the impact will be terrible if they fail.

  11. Bryan Lee

    It’s about time someone wrote about such a big failure. Nearly everyone I know clearly can see the failure in the Oslo Accords. Yet what do we hear from politicians? It was great. Yeah right

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