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The Oslo Accords

Norway map

The Oslo accords are the foundation on which peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are based.

Officially called the "Declaration of Principles," the accords were negotiated secretly by Israeli and Palestinian delegations in 1993 in Oslo, Norway, guided by Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst.

It was signed in a historic Washington ceremony hosted by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1993, during which PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin grasped hands in an uneasy, yet unforgettable handshake.

The declaration is the first phase in the ongoing peace process; it lays out the goals to be achieved. Those goals are the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the Palestinians' right to self- rule in those territories.

As of October 1996, Israeli troops had withdrawn from all territory except for the West Bank city of Hebron. The Palestinians had elected a parliament and Arafat as their first president, and established their own police force.

Accompanying the agreement were the "Letters of Mutual Recognition." In signing those letters, Israel officially recognized for the first time the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

And for the first time, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist, renounced terrorism, rescinded its call for Israel's destruction and accepted the principle of land for peace.

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