30 years after Oslo, we should not give up on peace in the Middle East.

(File photo: Jordan News)
30 years ago, on September 13, 1993, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands to seal the "Oslo Accords," which were supposed to lead to a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within five years. I remember feeling at that time the hope of finally seeing an end to the already decades-long Arab-Israeli-Palestinian tragedy. In 2023, what remains? There is neither peace nor a peace process. Hope has turned into resentment and despair, and this anniversary went virtually unnoticed.اضافة اعلان

Over 200 Palestinian and 35 Israeli fatalities
On the ground, the conflict is heating up once again. This year has already witnessed more than 200 Palestinian and 35 Israeli fatalities. Terrorist attacks, both by Palestinian militants against Israelis and by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, have reached record levels. Israel continues to expand settlements in the West Bank; at the time of the Oslo accords, there were 280,000 settlers, whereas today there are more than 700,000. Settler violence, the separation barrier, demolitions, and other measures are gradually displacing the Palestinian population from their land in many areas of the West Bank, while the humanitarian disaster in Gaza continues unabated, with no end in sight.

Domestic support is at an all-time low
Meanwhile, domestic support for the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership is at an all-time low, compounded by a growing lack of funding. In contrast, Israel has become a thriving "start-up nation," despite an imperfect security environment. The need to change the status quo is not felt as acutely in Tel Aviv as it is in Ramallah, but the conflict is not going away; the idea that Israel could move forward without making peace with the Palestinians is a dangerous illusion.

The continued violation of UN Security Council resolutions and some of the most fundamental principles of international law is eroding trust in a rules-based international order, not just in the region but across the globe. Therefore, it is more necessary and urgent than ever for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to, and mobilize for, peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

For years now, we, the EU and the international community, have been advocating for a Two-State Solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Due to Israel's fait accompli policy, this solution may seem less and less viable on the ground. However, what other alternative could allow Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace? Nobody can articulate any other plausible answer.

The establishment of diplomatic ties between some Arab States and Israel, vital as it is for regional peace, has so far not brought Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace. Therefore, together with the League of Arab States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, we have decided to make a joint contribution to help revitalize the Two-State solution.

Peace Day Effort
On September 18, at the United Nations in New York, we jointly launched the 'Peace Day Effort.' It was a success, with the participation of more than 50 countries and organizations. We intend to 'reverse engineer' peace, putting together a "Peace Supporting Package" that will maximize benefits for the Palestinians and Israelis if they are able to reach a peace agreement. This initiative builds on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and the 2013 EU "package of political, security, and economic support," both of which have foreseen such incentives for the conflict parties if they achieve peace, while also drawing inspiration from existing relations between Israel and some Arab states.

We aim to gather all that we can contribute when there is actual peace, real open borders, and substantial regional cooperation in the Middle East.

What political, economic, and security perspectives could we offer? What energy, climate, water, development, and other projects would we launch? This Peace Day Effort is not just an Arab-European endeavor; all international partners are invited to contribute, and in New York, many offered their support. On November 13 and 14, we will begin working together in Brussels to make this Peace Supporting Package precise and concrete.

It cannot be a substitute for a genuine peace process
This initiative cannot, of course, be a substitute for a genuine peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Peace Supporting Package alone will not be sufficient to overcome the many obstacles to peace, but it can provide an incentive to move in this direction—not only through the benefits it offers but also by reminding the conflict parties that a negotiated solution is the only viable and acceptable strategic option.

While our Israeli and Palestinian friends are not yet negotiating peace, we have embarked on this journey to help keep the Two-State Solution alive, hoping that, together, we can bring it within closer reach. As remote as peace in the Middle East may appear today, echoing the words of Nelson Mandela that "it always seems impossible until it's done," we will keep trying. For the sake of the legitimate rights of Palestinians, sustainable long-term security for Israelis, peace and development in the region, and the credibility of the international rules-based order, the world cannot afford to forget the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Josep Borrell EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News