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It all began with such hope. Thirty years ago on the White House lawn, President Bill Clinton watched on as the two adversaries in front of him – Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – shook hands.

But the peace process that the historic meeting gave birth to failed. Three decades on, bloodshed and bitterness still mark relations between the two sides, and the two-state solution offered by the Oslo Accords seems further away than ever before.

What went wrong? According to Maha Nassar, a scholar of Palestinian history at the University of Arizona, the process was doomed from the start. “First, it ignored the power imbalance between the two sides. Second, it focused on ending violence by Palestinian militant groups, while overlooking acts of violence committed by the Israeli state. And third, it sought peace as the end goal, rather than justice,” Nassar argues.

But just because it ultimately failed doesn’t mean the peace process – and that handshake – wasn’t momentous. Inside the Oslo Accords, a new podcast series for The Conversation Weekly, explores what it took to get both sides to the table and the legacy of the negotiations by interviewing some of the key participants in the process.

Also, The Conversation U.S. is launching our first book club event tomorrow! Join Senior Science + Technology Editor Maggie Villiger and mathematician and celebrated novelist Manil Suri for a discussion about his latest book, “The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math,” on Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m Pacific. Register here.

[ Science from the scientists themselves. Sign up for our weekly science email newsletter. ]

Matt Williams

Senior International Editor

A historic handshake. MPI/Getty Images

30 years after Arafat-Rabin handshake, clear flaws in Oslo Accords doomed peace talks to failure

Maha Nassar, University of Arizona

A famous gesture kick-started hopes of peace in the Middle East. But today, the idea of a two-state solution seems further away than ever before.

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