The Oslo negotiations were launched in January 1993 by Terje Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist, and By Yossi Beilin, a member of the government of the Israeli Workers` Party who came to power in 1992. They agreed that peace would require direct talks between Israel and the PLO (only Palestinians not linked to the PLO were involved in the ongoing discussions on the Madrid process). The Israeli law prohibiting contacts between Israelis and PLO officials, Larsen and Beilin have set up a secret and unofficial backchannel between two Israeli professors and a team of three PLO officials under the leadership of Abu Ala (Ahmed Qurei). The first meetings took place from 20 to 22 January 1993, near Oslo, in the house of the Norwegian Minister of Defence, Jorgen Holst, and his wife Marianne Heiberg. The Oslo talks aimed to develop a policy document to guide the restoration of peace in Israel and Palestine, and strict secrecy allowed negotiators to discuss scenarios and possible concessions without incurring internal costs. An important step forward was taken in May 1993, when Israel brought the talks to an official level by sending Deputy Foreign Minister Uri Savir to Oslo. The agreements signed between Arafat and Rabin in 1993 and 1995 were controversial for many Israelis and Palestinians. Right-wing Israelis had opposed signing an agreement with the PLO, a group they considered a terrorist organization – although Arafat renounced violence. Israeli settlers feared that Rabin`s so-called „land for peace“ formula would lead to their expulsion from the country they consider their biblical right, despite the UN`s position that Israeli settlements were built in violation of international law. As the United States, Europe and Arab nations continued to invest their hopes in the talks to reach a final agreement, settlement construction tripled in the occupied West Bank and grew at an unprecedented rate.
The Oslo Declaration of Principles was not a peace treaty; Rather, its objective was to establish interim governance agreements and a framework to facilitate further negotiations on a final agreement that is expected to be concluded by the end of 1999. The exclusion of Jerusalem and settlements from the territories to be transferred to the Palestinians would not alter the Israeli presence, including the army, to protect them, without a negotiated agreement. The agreements also preserve Israel`s exclusive control of the borders, airspace and territorial waters of the Gaza Strip. Oslo II, Article XII: The Oslo Process is the „peace process“ that began in 1993 with secret talks between Israel and the PLO.