Judith Butler argues at LRB that the Abbas move at the UN is the end of Oslo as a negotiating framework. I take her point, but don’t forget at least two things she does not mention live on:
1) Palestinian Authority control inside the cities of the West Bank. (so-called Area A from Oslo II)
2) Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.
My point is not to judge the merits of these two manifestations of Oslo but only to note that they emerged with Oslo and continue today. So even if Oslo crumbles as a negotiating framework, as Butler predicts, important vestiges of Oslo may remain in play for years.
Butler also implied that the Abbas appeal to the UN created tension between Palestinian statehood and the rights of all Palestinians, including those in the diaspora:
And yet, a serious debate remains about whether the present bid undermines the broader political right of Palestinian self-determination. Those who oppose the internationalisation of the process underscore that half of all Palestinians may well be disenfranchised if this bid is successful. Can the brokering of statehood through an international body such as the UN confirm the rights of Palestinians to self-determination without external interference? If the Palestinian Authority becomes synonymous with statehood, does that imply a sacrifice of the right of return for millions of Palestinians outside the region?
But this tension is not new. The Oslo process, even when seen in the best light, was ultimately about a core trade: Palestinian statehood and a foothold in East Jerusalem in exchange for the effective renunciation of the right of return. Palestinians could return to what would be the new state of Palestine, not to Israel. And that trade, which started to crystallize in 2000-01, lived on in the Annapolis talks between Olmert and Abbas in 2008. It is in the Clinton parameters and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan.
Butler may not like that trade, but it has been a part of the talks and proposals for years. If the UN effort undermines “the broader political right of Palestinian self-determination,” it does so in the spirit of Oslo. In some important ways, Oslo is more alive than people think.