13 November 1997
(Communicated by GPO)
The Oslo Accords established a clear mechanism for the resolution of disputes between Israel and the Palestinians based on the principle of bilateral negotiations and mutual conciliation.
In the Declaration of Principles (DOP), which was signed on September 13, 1993, Israel and the PLO agreed to establish a Joint Israeli-Palestinian Liaison Committee "in order to deal with issues requiring coordination, other issues of common interest, and disputes" (Article X). The accord stipulates that any disputes whichthe parties are unable to overcome in the Committee, "may be resolved by a mechanism of conciliation to be agreed upon by the parties" (Article XV).
The Interim Agreement ("Oslo 2") signed on September 28, 1995, requires the two sides to resolve their disputes directly and, failing to do so, they may resort to other frameworks only via a mutually agreed upon mechanism. Article XXI, entitled "Settlement of Differences and Disputes ", states, " Any difference relating to the application of this Agreement shall be referred to the appropriate coordination and cooperation mechanism established under this Agreement."
The article further states that, "The provisions of Article XV of the DOP shall apply to any such difference, which is not settled through the appropriate coordination and cooperation mechanism, namely:
1. Disputes arising out of the application or interpretation of this Agreement or any related agreements pertaining to the interim period shall be settled through the Liaison Committee.
2. Disputes which cannot be settled by negotiations may be settled by a mechanism of conciliation to be agreed between the parties."
Thus, the Oslo Accords clearly and explicitly obligate Israel and the Palestinians to resolve disputes directly on a bilateral basis.
The accords do provide for the resolution of disputes via arbitration, but this may take place only by mutual consent and not via unilateral measures taken by one side. Article XXI (3) states, "The Parties may agree to submit to arbitration disputes relating to the interim period, which cannot be settled through conciliation. To this end, upon the agreement of both Parties, the Parties will establish an Arbitration Committee."
The initiative by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to convene a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on November 13, 1997 in order to ostracize Israel is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Oslo Accords. The underlying premise of the accords is that Israel and the Palestinians will seekto resolve their differences directly. The attempt to involve the United Nations General Assembly in a bilateral dispute harms the peace process
and undermines confidence in the negotiations between the two sides.