Oslo Accords Signed (L-R) Prime Minister Rabin, President Clinton, and PLO Chairman Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. Photo: Whitehouse

September 13, 1993

U.S. President Bill Clinton holds a White House signing ceremony for the Oslo Accords, a set of agreements between the Israelis and Palestinans, at the conclusion of which Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat famously shake hands. The actual document, the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, is signed by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Palestinian negotiator Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev.

Negotiated in secret in Oslo and launching what is envisioned as a five-year process toward some form of Palestinian self-rule, the agreement builds on the 1978 Camp David Accords, in which Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat agreed to start negotiations toward establishing autonomy for Palestinians living in the territories Israel captured in the June 1967 war.

The Oslo agreement lays out the framework for a peaceful relationship between Israelis and Palestinians by fostering cooperation. Israel recognizes the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and accepts the concept of self-rule under a Palestian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza, although the agreement does not promise an independent Palestinian state. The PLO recognizes the state of Israel and pledges nonviolence. A follow-up agreement in 1995, known as Oslo II, institutes some of the accords’ proposals, including the creation of the Palestinian Authority and the handover of some areas to its control.

But inter- and intra-communal violence, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre of Palestinian Muslims in Hebron in February 1994, the assassination of Rabin in November 1995 and attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians, halts progress toward a resolution of the conflict. The Second Intifada, which starts in October 2000, effectively halts the Oslo process.