‘Time has come’ to let Sweden join NATO, says Stoltenberg

‘Time has come’ to let Sweden join NATO, says Stoltenberg
‘Time has come’ to let Sweden join NATO, says Stoltenberg

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - OSLO: The Oslo Accords, which aimed to bring “peaceful coexistence” to Israel and the Palestinians, are now dead, one of the deal’s architects, said Norwegian peace worker Jan Egeland.

The agreement produced the iconic image of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands Sept. 13, 1993, on the White House lawn as President Bill Clinton watched.

It was the start of a delicate process: Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization mutually recognized each other and created Palestinian self-government for an interim period of five years.

The aim was to give the two sides enough time to iron out several key issues, such as the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, and the fate of Palestinian refugees — a process that struggled to make headway.

Now, 30 years later, with a new bloody war raging between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Egeland was asked by AFP whether the accords were “pretty much dead.”

“Absolutely,” he said in an interview in his office in the Norwegian capital.

“The Oslo Accords are gone as an accord. Now, there will be another accord, and it will have to be led by the US, the EU, and the Arab countries.”

The accords were the culmination of 14 rounds of secret talks in Oslo, initiated and organized by, among others, Egeland, who was, at the time, a state secretary in the Foreign Ministry.

International mediation is the only viable way out of the conflict for the 66-year-old former diplomat who now heads the Norwegian Refugee Council humanitarian organization.

“It’s not possible for Israel and Hamas to negotiate the future of these lands (alone). There will be zero trust,” he said.

“Israel has waged (war) to destroy Hamas. Hamas is there to eliminate Israel.”

He said the “leaderships on either side are not at all at the level they were at the time of the Oslo Accords.”

Egeland said: “Those were visionary leaders, they were strong leaders, really leaders. Now we have populists on both sides.”

Pictures hanging on the wall behind Egeland show him shaking hands with Arafat and US President George Herbert Walker Bush. 

The current conflict erupted on Oct. 7 when Hamas fighters broke through Gaza’s militarized border in an attack Israeli officials said killed about 1,200 people.

Israel’s retaliatory strikes alongside a ground offensive have killed about 15,000 people.

“After this, there will be so much bitterness and hatred on both sides that there will be more violence,” Egeland said.

“It’s an illusion that Israel can bomb itself to security and peace.

“It is an illusion that by killing Israeli civilians, as (Hamas) did massively, and taking civilians as hostages (that) you can solve the problem of Israel existing.”

But the international community is not up to the task, he lamented.

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