Writing on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo accords this time last year, Jan Egeland, the Norwegian diplomat, former politician and current head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, who helped organize back-channel talks that led to the framework agreement between Israel and the PLO two-and-a-half decades ago, observed that “[d]espite the grim trends, there is still a way out of the vicious cycle of conflict. […] It can only be a matter of time”, writes Egeland, “before Israeli leadership realizes its long-term security is dependent on equal rights and dignity for millions of disillusioned Palestinian youth”.
Referring to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Egeland’s comment raised a broader issue—equality between Jewish Israelis, Palestinians and others as the foundation for a solution to the protracted conflict—that few world leaders, whether mediators, donors or interested bystanders, appear willing to talk about publicly. This seemed starkly evident two years ago when UN Secretary-General António Guterres ordered the removal of a report on Israeli Practices Towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid from the international organization’s website. Whatever the reasons for the decision (the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said the UN report was issued without prior consultation), Guterres missed an important opportunity to address an issue that is arguably central to the conflict and its resolution.