JERICHO, West Bank — When the Oslo peace accords were signed a quarter-century ago, residents of Jericho celebrated. Their dusty, 11,000-year-old desert city was given autonomy before anywhere else on the West Bank. Palestinians saw it as a foothold for what they trusted would become their own new state.
But nothing has turned out as they expected.
A shiny new casino, opened with great fanfare in 1998 to entice Israeli gamblers, has been empty since 2000, when they were barred from entering the city. The two-decade-old public hospital finally just got an elevator thanks to a donation from Japan. Perhaps the best-known institution of self-government in town is the jail, widely feared as a dungeon for political prisoners.
The brilliant Palestinian future conjured by Oslo has instead become a bitter trap.
The Oslo accords, first unveiled on the White House lawn with a handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat on Sept. 13, 1993, culminated in mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Israel had long banned as a terrorist organization, and the first formal agreements in a phased effort to resolve the century-old conflict.
They called for a comprehensive peace agreement by 1999, which was widely expected to lead to statehood for the Palestinians, and for Israel, realization of the long-held goal of land for peace.