Oslo at 30: Legacies, Hard Realities and Alternatives in Israel-Palestine

On the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of the ‘Oslo peace process’, ECFR and MEI are hosting a hybrid conference, assessing the legacies of the Oslo process, ways to address today’s harsh realities on the ground, alternative strategies and outcomes for the future

, Berlin time (CEST, UTC+2)

Hybrid event

Venue: Brussels

This September marks the 30-year anniversary of the signing of the Israel-PLO “Declaration of Principles” at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, ushering in the era of the U.S.-led “Oslo peace process.”  Thirty years on, both peace and the international community’s self-declared goal of a two-state outcome are more distant than ever: Israel’s occupation and illegal settlements are more deeply entrenched, while Palestinian political and governing institutions remain ineffective, divided and unaccountable.

Looking forward, this conference will discuss approaches for breaking the current impasse and potential endgames following the demise of Oslo, the significance of the emerging apartheid debate, the impact of growing global multipolarity on future peacemaking efforts, trends in internal Palestinian politics, the political project of Israel’s empowered new right, and the relationship between Israel’s democracy protests and the denial of Palestinian rights.

To join this conference in-person in Brussels, please register via this link.

To join online or in-person in Washington DC, please register via our partner Middle East Institute.

Wednesday 27 September

08.30 (EST) / 14.30 (CET): Arrival and Welcome

09.00-10.30 (EST) / 15.00-16.30 (CET): Panel 1: The Oslo Process: A Failure of Implementation or Design?

  • Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli foreign minister (Tel Aviv)
  • Daniel Kurtzer, former United States Ambassador to Israel and Egypt (Princeton)
  • Omar Dajani, former Advisor to the Palestinian Negotiating Team (Sacramento)
  • Ran Greenstein, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg)

Chair: Carol Daniel Kasbari, Middle East Institute (Washington)

10.45-12.15 (EST) / 16.45-18.15 (CET): Panel 2: Confronting Hard Realities on the Ground

  • Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories (Brussels)
  • Omar Rahman, Middle East Council on Global Affairs (Washington)
  • Shaul Magid, Dartmouth College (Washington)
  • Orly Noy, Israeli Journalist and Chair of B’Tselem (Brussels)

Chair: Lara Friedman, Foundation for Middle East Peace (Washington)

Thursday 28 September

09:30-11:00 (EST) / 15.30-17.00 (CET): Panel 3: What Should a Post-Oslo Endgame Look Like?

Chair: Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland (Haifa)

11.15-11.30 (EST) / 17.15-17.30: European Policy in a Post-Oslo Era: Time for a Rethink?

  • Pierre Vimont, former Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (Brussels)

11.30-13.00 (EST) / 17.30-19.00 (CET): Panel 4: Alternative Strategies to the Oslo Process

Chair: Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Foreign Policy (Brussels)

13.00 (EST) / 19.00 (CET): Conference Close

Francesca Albanese

Francesca Albanese is the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. An affiliate scholar at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University and a senior advisor on migration and forced displacement for Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), she has over a decade of experience as a human rights expert for the United Nations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Aziz Alghashian

Aziz Alghashian is a researcher from Saudi Arabia who focuses on the kingdom’s foreign policy. He is known, in particular, as a specialist for Saudi-Israeli, as well as for Arab-Israeli relations. Aziz joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he underwent Officer Training, before obtaining his undergraduate degree in International Relations and Global Security at Nottingham Trent University, followed by a MA degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from the University of Nottingham. Aziz is invited frequently to provide analysis on current Saudi affairs in Saudi and international media outlets.

Shlomo Ben-Ami

Shlomo Ben-Ami is the former foreign minister of Israel. He also served as the minister of public security, as Israel’s first ambassador to Spain, on Israel’s delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference and on the Israeli delegation at the Multilateral Talks on Refugees in the Middle East held in Ottawa, Canada. Prior to his career in government, Ben-Ami created the Curiel Center for International Studies at Tel Aviv University and was an elected member of the Knesset and of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

Carol Daniel Kasbari

Carol Daniel Kasbari is a Non-resident Scholar with the Middle East Institute’s Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs. She has participated in several second track negotiations of Palestinians and Israelis, and led hundreds of dialogue sessions among adversaries in different political contexts, including Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, and Bosnia. Prior, she was a consultant for UNESCO and worked with the EU program for peace working on media freedom of expression and democracy.

Omar Dajani

Professor Omar Dajani is co-director of the law school’s Global Center for Business & Development and recognised as a leading expert on legal aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In 1999, Professor Dajani was recruited to serve as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel, ultimately participating in the summits at Camp David and Taba. He then joined the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), where he worked on peacebuilding initiatives and played a lead role in marshaling and organizing international efforts to support Palestinian legal and political reforms. 

Lara Friedman

Lara Friedman is the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). She is a leading authority on the Middle East, with particular expertise on U.S. foreign policy in the region, on Israel/Palestine and on the way Middle East and Israel/Palestine-related issues play out in Congress and in U.S. domestic politics, policies and legislation. Friedman is a former officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, with diplomatic postings in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. In addition to her work with FMEP, Lara is a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). 

Ran Greenstein

Ran Greenstein is an associate professor of sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. His most recent book is Zionism and its Discontents: A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine (Pluto, 2014), and his previous books include Genealogies of Conflict: Class, Identity and State in Palestine/Israel and South Africa (Wesleyan, 1995) and Comparative Perspectives on South Africa (Macmillan, 1998). Currently he is working on a manuscript comparing indigenous resistance movements and Communist parties in South Africa and Israel/Palestine.

Claire Hajaj

Claire Hajaj is a specialist in conflict and post-conflict dynamics. For 17 years, she has contributed to humanitarian, political and security strategies to mitigate conflicts in some of the world’s most complex settings. Prior to joining Inter Mediate, she worked for the United Nations in Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan. More recently, Hajaj played a key role to negotiate and produce a landmark stabilization strategy for Lebanon to respond to the Syria crisis.

Leila Hilal

Leila Hilal is an international human rights lawyer. Previously, she was a senior fellow for the International Security Program and the former director of the Middle East Task Force at New America. She focuses on Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and issues related to U.S. foreign policy, community-based change, constitution-making and transitional justice in the broader Middle East and North Africa. Hilal served as senior policy adviser to the Commissioner-General of the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA and as a legal adviser to Palestinian negotiators from 2002-2008. She has led numerous research missions on human rights and post-conflict scenario building and transitional justice in the Middle East, including for Chatham House, the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Euro-Med Human Rights Network for Human Rights. 

Martin Indyk

Martin S. Indyk is the Lowy distinguished fellow in U.S. – Middle East diplomacy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Previously, he was the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution. Indyk served as President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from July 2013 to June 2014. Prior, he was vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program and the founding director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Indyk served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2001. He also served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council and as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

Dana El-Kurd

Dana El Kurd holds a Ph.D. in government with concentrations in comparative politics and international relations and has focused her work on authoritarian regimes in the Arab world, state-society relations in these countries, and the impact of international intervention.

Daniel Kurtzer

Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. During a 29-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Kurtzer served as Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, as a speechwriter and member of the Secretary of State Shultz’s Policy Planning Staff, deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs and principal deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and research. Following the Madrid peace conference, Kurtzer served as the U.S. representative to the bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Syria and chaired the U.S. delegation to the multilateral refugee negotiations.

Ian Lustick

Dr. Ian Lustick holds the Bess W. Heyman Chair in the Political Science Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches Middle Eastern politics, comparative politics and computer modeling. He is a recipient of awards from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Social Sciences Research Council. Before joining Penn, he taught for fifteen years at Dartmouth College and worked for one year in the Department of State.

Shaul Magid 

Shaul Magid is the Distinguished Fellow in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College and a Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is also contributing editor to Tablet Magazine and editor of Jewish Thought and Culture at Tikkun Magazine and a member of the American Academy for Jewish Research. Shaul’s academic work focuses on Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and modern Jewish thought with specific emphasis on American Judaism, Jewishness, and collective identity.

Orly Noy

Orly Noy is an Iranian born Mizrahi political activist and journalist, Editor at Local Call website, chair of the human rights organization B’Tselem, a translator of Farsi Literature into Hebrew and an activist with the Palestinian Democratic National party, Balad. 

Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is a deputy editor at Foreign Policy. He was a 2015-2016 Open Society Foundations fellow and previously worked as an op-ed editor at the New York Times and a senior editor at Foreign Affairs. Polakow-Suransky is the author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship With Apartheid South Africa (2010) and Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy (2017)

Mouin Rabbani

Mouin Rabbani is a researcher, analyst and commentator specializing in Palestinian affairs, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the contemporary Middle East. He has previously served as Principal Political Affairs Officer with the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Head of Middle East with Crisis Management Initiative/Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation and Senior Middle East Analyst and Special Advisor on Israel-Palestine with the International Crisis Group. Rabbani is Co-Editor of Jadaliyya and Contributing Editor of Middle East Report. At Jadaliyya he edits the Quick Thoughts feature and is host of the Connections podcast.  

Omar Rahman

Omar Rahman is a fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, where he focuses on Palestine, Middle East geopolitics and American foreign policy in the region. Rahman is also a non-resident fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. He was previously a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and a research analyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute. Rahman established his career as a journalist based in the U.S. and the Middle East, including three years in Palestine where he was a columnist for +972 Magazine.

Omar Shakir

Omar Shakir serves as the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, where he investigates human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Shakir has authored several major reports, including a 2021 report comprehensively documenting how Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians. As a result of his advocacy, the Israeli government deported Omar in November 2019. Prior to his current role, he was a Bertha Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the 2013-14 Arthur R. and Barbara D. Finberg Fellow at Human Rights Watch, he investigated human rights violations in Egypt, including the Rab’a massacre, one of the largest killings of protesters in a single day. 

Shibley Telhami

Dr. Shibley Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Telhami was selected by the Carnegie Corporation of New York along with the New York Times as one of the “Great Immigrants” for 2013. Telhami is a recipient of the Excellence in Public Service Award, awarded by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in 2006, and the University of Maryland’s Honors College 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award.

Pierre Vimont

Pierre Vimont is a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and a ECFR Council Member. Previously he served as Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service and as the special envoy for the French initiative for a Middle East Peace Conference. During his 38-year diplomatic career with the French foreign service, he served as ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2010, ambassador to the European Union from 1999 to 2002, and chief of staff to three former French foreign ministers.