Terje Rod-Larsen, who is currently the president of the International Peace Institute, established the Fafo Institute for Applied Sciences in Oslo in 1981, which undertook a research project on Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
He helped establish a secret channel between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israeli government officials in 1992, that eventually led to the Oslo Accords, and the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993.
One of the first things I discovered when I spoke with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators was that they were telling me things that were exactly the opposite to what they were saying on television.
Subsequent to the signing of the Accords, Rod-Larsen continued to be involved in the Middle East – as the ambassador and special adviser for the Middle East peace process to the Norwegian foreign minister, and then as the United Nations special co-ordinator in the Occupied Territories.
In 1996, he ventured back into domestic politics, serving as Norway’s deputy prime minister and minister for Planning and Cooperation.
He rejoined the United Nations soon after, serving as the UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process and personal representative of the secretary-general to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
He has also served as the special envoy of the UN secretary-general to Lebanon.
Rod-Larsen joined Empire in Oslo to recount how he got the Israeli and Palestinian sides to start talking in secret twenty years ago, and offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the public and private positions of the negotiators.
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