“If this fails, lives will be ruined.”
Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play of the same name, Oslo follows the secret back-channel talks, unlikely friendships, and quiet heroics of a small but committed group of Israelis and Palestinians, plus one Norwegian couple, that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. Oslo stars Ruth Wilson as Mona Juul, a Norwegian foreign minister, and Andrew Scott as Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist and Mona’s husband. The film is written by Tony-winning writer of the stage play J.T. Rogers and will be directed by Barlett Sher.
* * *
(gunshot, glass shattering)
I’ll reconfirm the time, and the location.
Wait for my call.
Yes, wear the blue tie.
Mona Juul (over phone): He’ll be there at noon.
Mona: Listen to me.
This meeting is completely unofficial.
You cannot even mention my ministry.
Darling… Darling… Trust me.
(phone clicks in cradle)
(motorcycle engine revving)
(speaking foreign language)
Two years of multi-national negotiations between us and the Palestinians have achieved absolutely nothing.
Why? Because our government refuses to negotiate directly with the PLO.
They are not allowed at the table.
But every day, Ahmed Qurie, the PLO’s finance minister, in London, sitting in a hotel room across the street from the negotiation telling the Palestinian delegation exactly what to say.
We are racing toward a precipice.
In Europe, they are calling us Nazis.
Every day, more and more of the world turns against us, but all we do is sit at that fucking negotiation table.
Terje Larsen: Because you’re trapped in a process incapable of building trust.
But… with my assistance, my expertise, you could change that.
Tell me exactly what part of the Norwegian government are you with, Mr. Huntsen?
Call me Terje.
No, I’m a, a private citizen.
I run the Fafo Institute.
A think tank.
Why would I accept your help?
Because you need it.
Because my negotiating model, and mine alone, is going to help you.
You and the Palestinians are using the antiquated negotiating model of totalism.
All issues of disagreement on the table. All sides at the table.
It’s disastrous. The process is formal, it’s rigid, and the results are absolute failure.
But this is what the Americans want us to do.
And so you must do it, but at the same time, start a second process.
Built, not on grand pronouncements between governments, but intimate discussions between people held somewhere isolated.
Where you and the PLO can meet. Alone.
This process I could oversee.
The place, I’d arrange.
Absolute discretion, guaranteed.
It is illegal for any Israeli official to speak to the PLO.
But someone unofficial…
Who you and Peres could choose.
That you could introduce to.
Exactly what I was thinking.
Ahmed Qurie: And how long were you stationed in the Middle East?
Mona: Two years.
And from this, you have just returned.
It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Qurie.
I’m pleased our work brings us to London at the same time.
Ah, well, you are here for work.
But alas, I am here for foolishness.
In that hotel, they are negotiating for the future of Palestine.
Yet I, who am the finance minister of the PLO, I am banned, barred, blocked from the very table where the economic future of my people is to be determined.
Mr. Qurie, you don’t need to give me the speech.
You are on our side.
And on theirs.
Forgive me, but I don’t speak Arabic.
And yet you profess to understand my region and my people, when in fact, clearly, there is very little that you understand.
Mona: That may be true.
But I do understand that your Chairman Arafat’s backing of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War so angered your now former Arab allies that they expelled 90,000 Palestinian guest workers, thereby creating such a financial catastrophe for your people, that the PLO is now stuck in exile in Tunis, unable to pay even the electricity bills.
I also understand that without additional support from my government, your organization will slide one step closer to irrelevancy.
Mr. Qurie, tell me how much you need, and I will do what I can.
But I want you to do one thing.
Not for me. For you.
There’s a man being sent here to London to meet you today.
If you are willing to see him.
This way. Yep. Mm-hmm.
I’m not here as my government.
He knows this, right?
Yes, he knows. He knows. He knows.
It is against the law, Mr. Larsen, for any Israeli…
Both: To meet with the PLO.
I know. Shh, shh, shh. After you. After you. Hello. Thank you.
Yes, he knows. Come on.
But, I, I, I… Wait, wait, wait…
I have never met an Israeli face-to-face.
Now, you know what you’re going to say?
Ah, yes, yes. Yes, of course.
(whispers): Yeah, yeah. Right. Okay.
Right. Here we go.
London is very cold this time of year.
Not like home.
I have not been home since 1967, when every man, woman, and child in my village was forced to flee our homeland, before the advancing hordes of Zionism.
But I remember well the warmth there this time of year.
I read your latest paper.
I thought it was excellent.
As a matter of fact, I… I’ve written a paper of my own, demonstrating the benefits of such economic cooperation.
Perhaps if you could read it.
Give me your professional feedback.
I would be honored.
(knocking on door)
Mona: Gentlemen, it’s time.
You have been most generous with your thoughts.
We should meet again.
To discuss economics.
I’m told if we were to meet in Oslo, Friends would prove… appro…
I am told if we were to meet in Oslo, friends would provide us solitude and privacy, and anything else we would require.
Who are you?
I’m just a professor of economics who supports dialogue with the PLO.
On whose authority do you speak?
I have no authority!
But I am having breakfast tomorrow in Tel Aviv with my dear good friend Yossi Beilin.
I am so looking forward to telling our new deputy foreign minister about my trip to London.
Jan Egeland: My God.
I mean, my God, that’s impossible.
Larsen: Jan, the Berlin Wall has just fallen, the Soviet empire has disbanded. Anything is possible.
If we set up a meeting here in Norway, Ahmed Qurie will come as the voice of the PLO.
There is no voice of the PLO but Arafat’s, Mona.
Who is this Ahmed Qurie?
How can you be sure this man has even told Arafat what he’s doing?
Because Arafat is fully informed and behind this.
And if we host it, the Israelis are on board, as well.
No. Mona, Yossi Beilin is on board, who does not have the authority to authorize such a thing.
Larsen: Jan, Jan. Jan, Jan.
Yossi told me to my face. Directly.
This comes from Shimon Peres. No question.
Mona, you are I are members of the foreign service.
We cannot jeopardize the Norwegian government’s neutrality in this conflict…
We’re not talking about involving the Norwegian government.
This is just us. It’s just us.
Do you not see the impossibility in what you are proposing here?
You’re a junior minister, and Terje’s just a sociologist.
Then that must be enough.
Listen, we will say that Terje’s institute is hosting a conference here in Norway for Israeli and Palestinian academics.
Terje will ask a friend to loan us his manor house.
I will book them all on regular flights under different names.
Rental cars only, and no diplomatic channels.
But for this to work, we need you to sign off on their visas.
Jan. Jan, listen.
No one else in the government needs to know.
This way, Holst and the ministry is protected.
If you say no, this conversation never happened.
Isn’t that right, Terje?
Let’s fucking do it.
But officially, this is Fafo’s scheme.
If this goes to shit, it’s all on you.
And don’t tell the Americans.
What are you talking about?
What are we going to tell them? “Hello. Nothing has happened, and we, we just wanted you to know.”
Do you know what their government will do to ours if we’re caught meddling in the Middle East?
Mona, how are we going to keep things hidden if the Americans are involved?
Okay, this is a diplomatic issue, darling, which is none of your concern.
I agree with Terje.
If we are going to take a risk, let’s take a risk.
Here we go.
Mona: Terje, if this fails…
If this goes wrong…
Darling, we have a plan now, and if it goes wrong, then we’ll improvise.
Our lives will be ruined.
Do you understand?
Yes, I do.
But we have a chance now.
A real chance to make a difference.
Whatever happens between them, we will not interfere.
If we are seen by anyone as favoring one side over the oth…
Darling, I would never do such a thing.
Then say it.
We will facilitate, and facilitate only. Say it.
(glass thuds on table)
We will facilitate.
We will facilitate, and facilitate… only.
(plane engine roaring)
(shouting): Your bastards of immigration with their, “Stand in that line and shut your mouth, and do as you are told.”
Like I am some underwear merchant!
Uh, sorry. I’m sorry. Everything’s fine. It’s all right.
It’s all right. Everything’s fine. It’s just a little… little mix-up. I’m so sorry. That wasn’t, um, wasn’t part of the, the plan.
You should have been sent straight through, no, no questions asked.
Hello. Let me, let me, let me, let me take your bag.
(woman speaking over PA)
There is no motorcade?
No. Just me.
Mr. Larsen, we have flown across the world in the seating of the coach.
I know, gentlemen, but this is the best way.
(car door closes)
Right. Let’s go.
From the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Mr. Ahmed Qurie, and his associate, Mr. Hassan Asfour.
And from the University of Haifa, Professor Yair Hirschfeld, and his associate,
Professor Ron Pundak.
Hello. And, hello.
This regal and historic guest house is built on the very site where 800 years ago, St. Olaf himself erected his castle, stone by stone, as he strove to make Norway a nation.
And your Olaf was killed, and his castle destroyed in a landslide.
Yes, thank you. Thank you.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but… my God, I find it cold here.
Not as cold as the hearts of your jack-booted Zionist soldiers as they break the bones of the sons and daughters of Gaza.
Again, thank you.
Gentlemen, you are here because you know that you and your people cannot go on as you have.
That whatever you personally feel, you want to find the way forward.
So, tell me, Abu Ala…
I am Ahmed Qurie!
But your friends call you Abu Ala, yes?
While here, here, we are all friends.
And while we are here together, that must be our one unbreakable rule.
Now please, follow me.
In that room, when the door is closed, you four will talk, you’ll disagree, worse.
But out here, we’ll share our meals.
We’ll talk of our families. We’ll light the fire.
Because it’s only in the sharing of the personal that we can see each other for who we truly are.
I, uh… we… accept your rule, and, uh, we are willing to try.
(both speaking Arabic)
(arguing in Arabic)
Between our peoples lies a vast ocean.
Those who have tried to cross before us have turned back, or drowned.
Let us be the first to step upon the other’s shore.
You mean… it is to be just us?
Out here, I will do all that you ask, but in there, I cannot help you.
Only you, together, can do this.
So what do you think?
I think if Hassan Asfour doesn’t kill us in our sleep, it will be a miracle.
No, no, no, no. They must be facing each other.
Good. Did you get what I asked for?
The Johnny Walker Black. Ja.
How many bottles?
We’ll need four cases.
What about dinner?
I will serve herring to start.
Larsen: Herring. Good.
A small pasta course.
And roasted pork stuffed with sage…
Oh, no! No, no, no.
No. Out of the question.
I’ve already prepared the dish…
Serve some fish.
Fish, yes? Salmon. Salmon, yes?
Good. Just do it.
Thank you. Thank you.
I must speak with the chairman in Tunis.
Follow me, sir. If you would.
They say they will take Gaza.
They propose Israel withdraw all forces from Gaza.
That the territory will be turned over to the Palestinians, who will govern it themselves.
To be able to pull out of Gaza, that would end the Intifada!
They, they, they want to go even further!
They’ve brought an outline for a declaration of principles that spells out precisely the issues between us that both sides agree to address.
What should I do?
Well, it’s, it’s easy, Yair. You just, you…
That’s not for me to say.
Yair, trust that you need no road map.
The way will show itself.
That is completely fucking stupid.
(indistinct chatter, laughter)
Abu Ala. His glass is empty.
Thank you, Toril.
It’s good wine, yes?
Yes. Wine, yes.
Dinner is excellent.
Larsen: Yes, it is. Thank you.
But Hassan, you’ve barely touched your food.
Hassan is from Gaza, where they are all fishermen, but hate the sight of fish.
Jan (over phone): What am I supposed to tell our foreign minister when he asks where you are?
Tell him it’s a family issue.
Jan, things are moving faster than we expected.
I have to stay.
(phone clicks in cradle)
No more, Larsen. No more!
I couldn’t possibly have another sip.
Yes, Terje. No more for me, too. Not even one drop.
Okay, who’s next? Abu Ala, what about your father?
Yes, it’s your turn. Tell us.
Qurie: He was born in a village just outside Jerusalem.
As a child, he would take me to the Old City, where the very stones speak to you.
Through the winding streets we would go, until we would emerge and stand before it.
Then he would say, “There. There, Ahmed.
“That is the al-Aqsa mosque. The beating heart of Jerusalem. Wherever you go, boy, you must always hold it, and this city, here. For it will always be your home.”
Larsen: And finally…
The, uh, petty bourgeois construct of family does not interest me.
The struggle against the Western capitalist behemoth…
That is my father.
No more sourpuss from him.
(clears throat) Right. I have a joke.
No, it’s good. It’s good.
Interpol, the CIA, and the Mossad, are chasing a rabbit.
They go to the edge of the forest.
Interpol searches the forest, but they can find no rabbit.
The CIA burns down the forest, but still, no rabbit.
Then Mossad says, “Give us 30 minutes.”
They go in. Half-hour later, they come out with a grizzly bear in a headlock, with a broken nose and a black eye, and the bear is yelling…
“Okay, I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”
“I’m a rabbit!”
Pundak: Oh, Mr. Lenin likes the joke!
I want to tell a joke.
A man is married 40 years.
Then, his wife, she dies.
After the funeral, after all are gone, he sits alone in his house.
The shadow of loneliness falls upon him.
In his solitude, he cries out, “I am all alone!
“What will I do now?
“I have no wife!
“No… No one to tell me what to do!
No one to tell me what to say…”
“I am all alone.
“I am all alone. I am all alo… I, I, I am all alone!
All alone! I am all alone!”
He looks like Arafat! (laughs) No…
Crazy Arafat gestures on TV!
Do not insult the chairman.
You insult the chairman, you insult us!
Abu Ala, I didn’t mean… It was a joke…
You think we are just here as us?
We are the head and arms of him!
Friends, please, please, please, please.
We are the head and arms of him!
Larsen: Please, please!
(shouting, arguing continues)
We will bury you before you take our honor…
I have brought waffles.
Oh! There she is.
The one I love is here.
Please. Uh, please. Sit, gentlemen. Sit.
This is the waffle recipe of my mother, passed down from her mother.
It is simple, but precise.
Vanilla, sugar… Butter… Buttermilk… Flour… And the secret is the cardamom.
For the serving, first you spread the whipped cream and the raspberry, and then you eat.
Qurie: Good. Very good. Excellent.
(speaking Hebrew and Arabic)
(responding in Hebrew and Arabic)
Pundak: Very, very good. Thank you. (laughs)
I propose… that we agree that there are certain subjects… people… we do not discuss, just as when we are in there.
Which we do not cross.
Yes. Here, let us be friends.
(typewriter keys clacking)
Type everything up on these.
This way, if either side leaks it, the other can claim the entire thing is an unofficial idea concocted by your organization.
(typewriter keys clacking)
(typewriter keys clacking)
Larsen: Gentlemen, thank you for your willingness to take part in these first few steps.
Uh, make sure you’ve left nothing behind. No traces.
Yes? Good, good, good.
So, here are the copies of the new DOP.
And for God sake, guard them with your life.
One last order of business before you go.
When we’re speaking on the phone from now on, we’ll refer to Israel as “the little country.”
Prime Minister Rabin will be “the grandfather.” Shimon Peres, “the father.”
Yossi Beilin, “the son.”
The PLO we’ll call “those across the sea.”
Chairman Arafat will be “the grandfather,” of course, also.
And Abu Ala, uh…
It means “slipper,” Abu Ala, in Yiddish.
You are an even stranger people than I imagined.
I’ll see you at home.
May your travels be safe.
You are my first…
I hope I was not too stringy.
But still better than fish.
(Hirschfeld chuckles softly)
Fly well, friends. Be safe.
With those two, we can go no further.
We must deal directly with the Israeli government.
Tell Yossi Beilin it’s time to upgrade, or this is over.
(car door closes)
Yossi, the progress that was made in one two-day meeting, it’s beyond imagination, and the Palestinians have told me they want to return.
So you must see it’s time now to upgrade the Israeli delegation, yes?
Terje, Israel has no delegation to upgrade.
Look at it from the other side.
These are ministers from the PLO who are risking their lives.
Which as deputy foreign minister of the State of Israel is none of my concern.
We’ve got to give them something.
Can I least tell them that Peres is behind this?
He doesn’t know?
What… But you…
You told me…
I told you what?
Terje, when people talk to you, you should really pay attention to what they actually say.
And not just listen for whatever you want to hear.
If and when something occurs that I deem worthy enough to bring to the foreign minister’s attention, then he will know.
For now, I and I alone know.
Here I was worried the Palestinians are running a rogue operation.
It turns out it’s the fucking Israelis.
Well, things are a bit more complicated than we thought.
Complicated? Are you serious?
Mona, you told me that Peres was on board.
And now Beilin is saying the opposite.
Look, I want to help as much as you do.
But we are government officials who could now be accused of conspiring with another government’s official. We…
We could be fired. Jailed. Worse.
Wait. Wait. What if we’re missing something?
We’re not telling Holst, in order to protect him and the ministry.
What if Beilin is just doing the same?
Look, the moment he tells Peres, Peres will have to tell Prime Minister Rabin, and then things will become official.
And once they’re official, then this whole channel is over.
So, as long as Peres remains in the dark, then Beilin can keep pushing the process forward.
See how far things go.
Oh. I see.
So then we push on.
One more meeting.
Discreet. Under wraps.
But Mona, we need an upgrade from the Israeli delegation, or this won’t work.
Yeah, I know.
Reporter: In response to the escalating violence between Israeli and Palestinian civilians, Prime Minister Rabin has sealed Gaza.
Yitzhak Rabin: On one hand, we would like the Gazans to work in Israel, because otherwise, they don’t have any source of income to sustain themselves.
At the same time, I am responsible for the security of the people of Israel.
And how to mitigate between the two, this is the key problem.
Beilin (over phone): For God’s sake, Terje, our people are being murdered in the streets!
If our grandfather did not close the border, he would have been hounded from office.
Yossi… Yossi, I understand.
I more than understand. I empathize.
But those across the sea are emphatic.
They say the little country must upgrade their delegation.
Beilin: You tell Puntoffle that when he puts something on the table of substance, then we will consider his request.
But they are not…
Qurie (over phone): Larsen? Larsen?
What do they say?
Puntoffle, hello. The son, uh, wishes me to respectfully inform you that, uh, when a more substantial offer is put forth, uh, your request for, uh, an upgrade, uh, will be considered.
Qurie: Fuck him! He’s a fucking bastard!
We have offered to take Gaza off their hands!
We are the ones whose lives hang in the balance!
They will not upgrade, so I will not return.
They will upgrade.
Qurie: They will?
Larsen: Uh, yeah.
Qurie: Who are they sending?
What are you doing?
I don’t know the details yet, but, but an upgrade is coming.
Qurie: How do you know this?
Uh, Mona told me.
She’s met with the son from the little country, and she made him promise that if you return to Oslo, then they’ll send an upgrade.
Qurie: Mona has done this?
Qurie: Swear it to me, Larsen.
On the soul of your wife.
I swear on the soul of my wife.
You’ve got to trust me.
Qurie: I trust Mona.
Without her, you are nothing.
Book the flight.
(phone clicks in cradle)
Do you have any idea what you have done?
You have promised something I cannot do.
But Yossi will upgrade.
How do you know that?
Because, Mona. He will.
That’s not an answer, Terje.
Okay, darling, just look at all we’ve achieved.
That you have now jeopardized by your recklessness.
By your total disregard of everything we agreed to.
A hundred years of hatred and bloodshed teetering on the cusp of change.
We’ve gotta do whatever it takes.
Except lying to them, Terje!
Only a bungling amateur lies.
You are so fucking Norwegian!
Everything is a fucking problem.
Everything is an objection!
I am on the phone with them day and night, fighting to stay on my feet, and all you want me to do is sink to my fucking knees!
This is finished, Terje.
Unless we do one thing.
Tell Holst what we are doing.
No. No, Mona. He’s a megalomaniac.
And now, that megalomaniac is exactly what we need.
Holst does nothing in half measures.
If we can convince him, he’ll throw the full weight of the ministry behind us.
He will help us get that upgrade, and then we will make this happen.
Larsen: You… are the most extraordinary woman who has ever lived.
No, Terje, we don’t have time for this.
There are no words…
Terje, we don’t have time for this.
…to describe how wonderful you are.
Stop talking. Stop talking.
The violation of protocol has been totally inappropriate.
My God, the risks.
Not even a security detail.
That was Larsen’s idea.
Driving alone, middle of the night. Rental cars.
Minister Holst, in but one meeting, the Israelis and ourselves have made progress beyond all hopes.
With your support, our secret channel will continue to feed fresh waterto the official Washington-sponsored talks.
You are your nation’s greatest statesman.
Only you can move our two peoples towards a true and lasting peace.
(glass thuds on table)
At all further meetings, there will be an elite, two-man security detail chosen by me.
My deputy, Jan Egeland, will run all further liaisons between the PLO and…
It must be Larsen.
His ways are strange, but through his methods, we have begun a true dialogue between our peoples.
If we are to succeed, it must be him, for this one speaks truth to both sides.
He does not lie.
Do you, Larsen?
Thank you, Minister Holst.
We will meet again.
(indistinct announcement over PA)
Nice to have another professor with us.
Welcome. Hope you enjoyed your flight.
Such a pleasure to meet you. An honor. Truly.
Your security detail is calling attention. Send them on ahead.
Yes, um, sorry. Uh…
Hirschfeld: Are there any details you’d like us to brief you on?
Obviously, a great distance still to go, but as you heard from Yossi, the progress… it’s been dizzying.
We should be sitting down, ah? (chuckles)
I have to take a piss.
Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce Uri Savir, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Uri Savir, please meet Abu Ala, and Hassan Asfour.
I am here at the personal request and as the voice of Shimon Peres.
And I am here at the personal request and as the voice of Yasser Arafat.
Welcome to Oslo.
Let us begin.
The idea of this DOP was yours, yes?
Yes, it was.
What is your official response to our concrete proposals there?
I have no response to an unofficial document.
What I have is a mandate to negotiate in full with you.
What you have all done in this room so far is discuss the idea of peace.
I have been sent here to try and negotiate actual peace.
Let us put our cards on the table.
In my country,we see you as terrorists and murderers who wish to drive us into the sea.
You killed our athletes in Munich.
Murdered our school children in Ma’alot, invaded us and spilled our blood on Yom Kippur, the highest holy day we have.
So you will understand when I say that we do not view you as ideal partners for peace.
In my country, we see you as a savage nation, whose army shoots our children for sport.
Your people persecuted for your faith… murdered in Pogroms, fled to Palestine, where you were left alone to pray, and strive, and grow strong.
And when you became strong, you burned our homes, drove a million people from Palestine, and claim to this day that there was never such a thing as Palestine!
So, you will understand our mistrust of you as ideal partners for peace.
Now that we’ve both swung our dicks, let me say this.
We are tired of being at war with you.
We are committed to ending the cycle of violence and enmity.
But I want to be clear.
Israel will not sacrifice its security.
And you will never have that security, Mr. Savir, until you make peace with us.
For our region of the world will never accept you until we accept you.
Much of this, we are willing to discuss.
But let me be clear.
Israel will not negotiate over the sovereignty of the city of Jerusalem.
We will never relinquish our right to Jerusalem, just as we will never relinquish our right to a Palestinian state.
The possibility of a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital is a viable topic, if you’re willing to drop your further impossible demand that all issues not resolved in this DOP be referred to third-party international arbitration.
You are Goliath to our David!
A neutral arbitrator is essential.
Give me one country that voluntary cedes national sovereignty, like you’re proposing we do.
The newly formed European Union comes to mind.
Not those fucking pansies. I mean a real country.
We can talk in circles, or we can start to get something done.
Now, we are willing to relinquish control of Gaza…
Which we will accept, on condition that you relinquish control of Jericho to us at the same time.
Are you fucking serious?
Gaza alone would make us an island, surrounded by a sea of Israeli forces.
I’ve been talking of nothing but Israel’s concern for our security, and now you’re asking us to give you control of a city 20 kilometers from Jerusalem?
I am talking about our city in our West Bank!
Your country divides my people in two!
So we must have a foothold in Gaza and the West Bank!
Savir: We’ll give you Gaza, and when you show you can stop the killing of our soldiers in Gaza, then we’ll talk about Jericho.
That is from Shimon Peres himself. Take it or leave it.
I leave it.
You two… come with me.
(jazz music plays on radio)
(jazz music continues)
My God, this day!
I mean, life is nothing if not surprising. Am I right, huh? Huh?
Yes, yes. That’s very, very true.
Come. Let’s have a dance.
(jazz music continues)
I’ll tell you a secret.
I was nervous as hell to meet those two.
First members of the PLO I’ve ever been face-to-face with.
So what do you think of them?
Not the demons I was expecting.
This Ahmed… What do you call him?
I can do business with this man.
I think this is going to work.
There’s been a leak.
Agence France-Presse is reporting a secret Norwegian channel between Israel and the PLO.
A small piece, buried, but our press have read it and they want to know what the hell is going on.
My God. How are we going to break this news to Holst?
We’re not going to tell him.
You’ll release a statement that Agence France-Presse is clearly referring to the meeting on the Palestinian refugee situation that we are officially, and openly, about to host.
We’re not lying, Jan.
We’re choosing our words carefully.
Savir: I told everyone in my office I’m off to Paris for the weekend.
I land at De Gaulle, take the car to the hotel, check in, go to my room.
After 20 minutes, I hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and head back to the airport…
(bottle thuds on table)
The flight from Paris here to Oslo, completely packed… with Iranians!
Oh, ho-ho-ho! What did you do?
What do you think I did, huh?
I shit my pants.
Thank you so much. Abu Ala, you were right.
This woman is a national treasure.
Qurie: Aah, just you wait!
For now, we are approaching the hour of the waffles!
(all cheering, chattering)
Savir: Look who’s here. Mona!
Qurie: Hey, hey, hey!
We must toast Mona.
No, no, no, no, no…
We must praise you.
No, you can’t stop us. We must praise you.
Without her, we are nothing.
Yes. To Mona.
All (chanting): Mona! Mona! Mona!
Mona! Mona! Mona! Mona!
(rhythmic banging on table)
Qurie: Last night, in there, you said the eventuality of a Palestinian state…
Savir: I did not!
I did not.
…is a viable topic for this discussion.
Possibility of the Palestinian state is what I said.
Dinner is about to be served, gentlemen.
If you want to discuss the idea of the eventuality of a Palestinian state, then first you must address our security concerns.
Your concerns are demands, and I will not be demanded to.
Savir: We must have proof that the PLO will cease all terrorist activities against all Israeli citizens. Hassan.
Hassan. Hassan! I’m right here.
You want to say something, say it to my face.
You sit there, comrade, with your colonial superiority, dictating what our future will or will not be.
Yet somehow, with your intelligence service, your army, your nuclear weapons, you are threatened by us.
So, are you the master who must be obeyed, or the victim who must be coddled, because you cannot be both!
Tell me something, Hassan.
Did you get those talking points mailed to you from Moscow?
Or did you copy them down yourself?
Your future will be dictated by us!
If you think we are going to roll over on the issue of our security, you are sorely mistaken!
Your nation is surrounded by 350 million of us!
You will have no security until we have our dignity.
Until we have security, you will have nothing.
Now you reveal your true face!
Now we see the scoundrel you are!
(grunts) I’m fine. It’s all right.
Forgive my outburst.
It was unworthy.
Please allow me to make amends.
Perhaps you and I could walk together.
If you wish.
I admire the way you fight.
I admire your passion.
(laughs softly) My daughter says, with me, passion is another word for pigheaded.
She says, “Papa, all you care about is being right.”
I say, “Maya, if a man does not fight for what he believes, who is he?”
Yes. My daughter.
My daughter is named Maya.
My youngest. She is the light of my life.
I wish my father had lived to see this.
Though he would not have been crazy about the weather.
This is a true tragedy that we were approached by the Norwegians, and not the Californians.
Oh, my God. Are they laughing?
(whispers): If you take one more step, I swear I will divorce you.
Is your father still with us?
My father lives in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem.
Do you want me to take a letter to him, bring a message from you?
The day I am able to leave Tunis and return, that is the day he and I will speak.
But thank you.
Savir: Abu Ala, our peoples live in the past.
Both obsessing over… over what we have lost.
Let us find a way to live in the present.
We will agree to drop our demand that outstanding quarrels between us be referred to third-party international arbitration.
And we will agree to negotiate turning over Gaza…
You and I, Abu Ala…
We are going to change the world.
What the fuck is this?
Who the fuck negotiated this?
You try negotiating this.
It’s a working document.
It’s a fucking Hanukkah present to Yasser Arafat.
Savir: This is what Peres wanted.
Peres answers to Rabin just like the rest of us.
This flies in the face of 40 years of Israeli policy.
We turn over control of Gaza, and Jericho?
The inclusion of Jerusalem in Palestinian self-rule?
Joel, these are just talking points…
Is this why our grandparents founded this country?
So we could do this?
In four months, we’ve gone from not even conceiving of meeting these people to that.
Forty years, nothing.
Now four months, that.
Every negotiating round, my counterpart calls PLO headquarters in Tunis, and speaks directly to Arafat.
Every concession these men have made has been signed off on by Arafat.
Who in the government knows this document exists?
The three of us, and Peres.
It’s written like mush.
The janitor in my law firm would have done a better job.
Every sentence here could be read to mean anything by either side.
It’s a fucking time bomb.
So diffuse it, Joel.
Rabin trusts you, and you alone, to do it.
We are not lawyers. We need your expertise.
Go through this “mush.”
Figure out if it can be turned into a real binding document or not.
Nothing more can happen between Israel and the PLO unless you tell us it’s a go.
Hassan, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to…
They know who I am and I know who they are.
We don’t have time for chit-chat.
I’ve read the text of the joint document created here, and I’ve come with 200 questions about this document.
We reject your questions, as we reject your tone.
These questions come directly from Yitzhak Rabin.
I am here at his personal request.
When you’re speaking to me, you’re speaking to the prime minister of Israel.
I have until 0600 hours.
We’ll need to work through the night.
Let’s get started.
Do you know who this man is?
Joel Singer wrote the military rules of engagement the Zionist army used to crush our people.
We are now in the boat with the enemy himself.
(inhales, exhales sharply)
Each of these 200 questions requires a precise answer.
When I’m satisfied with your answer, we’ll move on to the next question.
“If the State of Israel agrees to cede control of Jericho and its surrounding territory, will the proposed Palestinian authority collect Israeli garbage?
Or only Palestinian garbage?”
This is your question?
Well, this is my first question.
No, we will not collect Israeli garbage.
“If the State of Israel agrees to cede control of Jericho and its surrounding territory, will the proposed Palestinian authority be prepared to send tax collectors into Israeli settlements?”
Mr. Singer, we did not fly across the world to speak of garbage and taxes.
Garbage and taxes is what a government does.
If you want us to give you the authority to be a government, then this joint document must spell out exactly how you will be a government.
I must speak with Tunis.
How many times is Mr. Qurie going to do this?
We’ve already lost an hour and a half.
(both speaking Hebrew)
Singer: Why are you doing this?
You and your husband?
Well, if you were in our shoes, Mr. Singer, wouldn’t you do the same?
That’s why I’m asking.
Terje and I were touring Gaza.
Part of my work while I was stationed in the region.
We took a wrong turn down an alley.
We were fine.
Others were not.
There were two boys facing each other.
One in uniform. One in jeans.
But on their faces, the same fear.
The same desperate desire to be anywhere but here.
To not be doing this to the other boy.
Now, if you’ll excuse me.
I understand our role here.
But I think you should know…
Whenever Abu Ala goes to use the phone and call Tunis, he does not call Tunis.
Who does he call?
He sits in his room, staring at the wall.
When enough time for a phone call has passed, he comes back in with new instructions.
Just keep this between you and me. Yes?
Don’t tell Mona. I’ll take care of it.
So, the phrase “Israeli settlements abutting the city of Jericho,” is vague and imprecise.
Which settlements, what other…
Settlements and boundaries, as per article four, page 32, of the working document of the official Washington talks.
Singer: Show me the language of this document.
My copy of this document resides here.
Your copy is your business.
Question number 200.
Are you willing to state herein that you recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel?
We will agree in this document to accept the existence of the State of Israel.
We know we exist, and we know you see that we exist.
What this document requires is for you to acknowledge the legitimacy of our existence.
Qurie: Mr. Singer, when you are willing to state herein that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the official voice of the Palestinian people, then we will revisit your legitimacy.
Your answers to my questions were clear and direct, for which you have our thanks and our respect.
On behalf of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the State of Israel, we make this offer that this back channel will become the official channel.
But what of the Washington-sponsored talks?
They’ll continue, and no one involved in those talks will know that what they are doing is now nothing but a ruse.
You both will negotiate.
You and I will write.
In this room, we four will forge peace, or there will be no peace.
Mona: Jan, you cannot drop out.
Yes, I can, Mona.
And if you have a shred of sense left, you will do the same.
But this process needs you.
Look at what has just happened!
I mean, my God, it’s one thing for a peace process to have a secret back channel.
Now the actual peace process itself is a secret.
Yes, I know, but…
The future of two peoples is now being decided without accountability, without transparency, by a handful of men who have no mandate to do so.
But that was always the ca…
If you continue down this path, and the world finds out what you are all doing, there will be riots.
Blood will be spilled.
When I was a young man, I told my mother that my dearest wish was to become a fighter pilot.
She said she would allow it on one condition: that I fly very slowly, and very close to the ground.
I replied, “But, Mother, for a pilot to be safe, he must fly very fast, and very high.”
Peres: I adore your shoes.
Larsen: Oh, thank you.
Peres: Do you have them stretched, or break them in yourself?
Stretched, of course.
That way, they fit like a glove.
(clears throat) Shimon, if you could.
Arafat, and the PLO.
Look, if this deal does not happen, the PLO will be so hollowed out, so bereft of victories it may well cease to exist.
This, we cannot allow.
For Israel needs the PLO to exist.
Arafat is tricky, but he is a man.
And a man aches for one thing above all: his home.
Tell Uri to tell Abu Ala that if Arafat makes this deal with us, I will allow him and the rest of the PLO leadership to return to Gaza.
Beilin: Arafat, and the PLO in Gaza?
If we are to be bold, it must be now.
Get them all back to Oslo for one last round.
And we tell the Americans nothing.
But Shimon, nothing?
I was this close to making peace with King Hussein and the Jordanians, until the Americans got wind, and scuttled it.
This, they will not scuttle.
But the Americans could ask us directly, any moment.
If they ask any of us, we say the back channel is closed.
You mean flat-out lie?
What is a lie but a dream that could come true?
Fast and high, my friends.
It is the only way.
(plane engine roaring)
BBC anchor (over TV): As Israel’s assault on Hezbollah continues, the refugees streaming toward Beirut have now reached upwards of 200,000.
The Palestinians have spent the day trapped between the Lebanese army and Israel’s allies.
The Palestinians have been marching for a mile through this desolate nomad’s land, when they came under fire.
(firing, explosion on TV)
A tank round landed only a hundred yards in front of them…
(machine guns firing)
while machine gunfire whistled over their heads.
Many of the Palestinians started to pray as the gunfire echoed around them.
It was a clear warning to these men from the Israeli’s proxies not to go any closer to the border.
Abu Ala, tomorrow we will finish this.
BBC anchor (over TV): This man was seriously wounded in the face.
We will find a way.
Reporters took him to hospital.
Tonight, the Palestinians are still on the road, out in the open.
Two Palestinians were hit by shrapnel from the SLA’s fire, and this evening, the Lebanese prime minister announced he was stopping any more aid reaching them, a clear attempt to increase the world’s concern, and the Israeli’s embarrassment.
Robert Moore, ITN, on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
It’s a disaster!
Yair, what is?
What’s going on?
Months of work ruined by that son of a bitch!
What this Singer has brought, it’s, it’s almost a complete rewrite!
The DOP we made together, it’s disappeared.
Singer took out that we agreed to give them Jericho, and he put in that they agreed to everything we asked for.
You have to fix this.
Yair, I can’t…
Hirschfeld: No, no!
Mona, you are the one they will listen to.
No. I, I can only facilitate. I cannot interfere.
No! You are part of this now.
It has to be you.
Go. In. Now!
Asfour: This is not a “joint approach.”
This is an Israeli occupation.
(scoffs) You have no right to tell us how our army will deal with our people.
Singer: We are not going one step further until you agree, as written there, that the violence ceases when you are in charge.
Asfour: Uh, we are in Tunis.
Those who are occupied began the Intifada.
It is theirs to end when they see fit.
Then why the fuck are we talking to you?
Joel, I am negotiating, yes?
Then let me negotiate!
Qurie: Uri, why do you refuse to recognize the historic compromises we have already made?
You have made? Abu Ala, we are giving you land.
We are shrinking the size of our country!
Hey, this is not land for you to give, but to give back!
This is land you fucking lost because you invaded us, and we kicked your fucking ass.
And where in this, where is Jerusalem?
You put Jerusalem back on the table, and everything is over.
You go on like this, you will never stop being the occupier, and we will never stop fighting you!
Your fighting is killing your own children!
Our fighting has forced you to stand in this room, and deal with us!
My friend, my friend, listen to me, together we can fix this.
Singer: He works for me!
Let us be fucking clear, Joel. You are here for Yitzhak, I’m here for Shimon.
You are here with me, to make these people, for once, keep their fucking word.
(Asfour speaking Arabic)
You will accept this document that we’ve all agreed to.
All of us. Or we are done.
Write this down.
At exactly 0900 hours, 28th of July, 1993.
The Oslo PLO-Israeli channel was closed.
Listen to me, please.
You have fought and killed each other for 50 years.
Your mothers, your daughters, your sons have died, and nothing has changed.
The world has washed its hands of this conflict because it does not believe that you can change.
No one else is coming to help you.
This is up to you.
You grow more isolated by the year…
as your soldiers occupy land you do not even want.
That you are desperate to leave.
And you, you are stranded in Tunis, yet here now, you are being offered that land.
A return home.
To govern yourselves.
This is your chance.
You cannot afford to miss this moment.
Look at the risks you have already taken together.
Now please, sit back down and find a way.
(clears throat) I’m willing to start over.
See what we can see.
Begin with article eight.
They are clearly open to meeting you halfway on this issue.
Savir: End of article eight.
The sentence, “Israel will continue to carry all responsibilities,” must be followed by the words
“for defending against external threats or terrorist threats.”
Qurie: In article eight, we will accept “external threats,” but not “terrorist threats.”
The long-standing UN Resolution 242 and 338 criticizing the Israeli occupation must be included in this document.
That, we categorically reject.
But if you are willing to postpone discussion on the future of Israeli settlements…
No. We will not.
But, the right to return for those displaced in the ’67 war, this, we agree to postpone to a later date.
Savir: And if you are willing to accept our control of border security, we will withdraw all our forces from Gaza, and Jericho, at the same time.
The city of Jerusalem will be capital for both.
Savir and Singer: No!
Beilin (over phone): Terje.
This is the son calling with a message from the father.
The father says you need to assemble your team and fly tomorrow in secret to Stockholm, Sweden.
Tomorrow night, the father will be attending a state dinner over there, and after dinner, he will meet you and your team at the royal guest house.
And… then he will make it.
With those across the sea.
We are going to finish it, Terje.
(phone clicks in cradle)
So, how long will you be with Mr. Peres tonight?
As long as Mr. Peres wishes.
Terje: Um, uh, perhaps we could get something to eat?
It’s late. Could that be arranged?
The kitchen is closed.
Oh. Mr. Foreign Minister.
How was your function?
May I get you something from the kitchen?
No, thank you.
This couple is not on the official list for the guest house.
You may leave us.
Holst is still at the reception, but he’s coming.
This is the latest draft, with Singer’s markings.
Let’s get started.
But where are the Palestinians?
The Palestinians are not coming.
We are doing this on the phone.
You will ring Tunis.
Tell them I’m calling, and have them put Arafat on the line.
Is the PLO leadership expecting your call?
The PLO leadership has never spoken to the Israeli leadership, ever.
But the chairman and I are the only ones who can make the necessary and painful final compromises.
Since he and I can have no contact of any kind, we will use Holst as our intermediary.
Now dial Tunis, and find Arafat.
The night is not young, my friends, and we have a long way to go.
“Dial Tunis”? Like there’s one phone number there?
This is Arafat. He’s not reachable by phone.
Where is Abu Ala?
I don’t know.
Is he in Tunis?
I don’t know, Mona.
What are you doing?
I’m going to call every possible number where Abu Ala could be staying.
He’ll know how to reach Arafat.
Oh, my God.
Christ! It’s almost midnight.
We are running out of time.
Mr. Peres has retired for this evening, so this office is closed.
No, Mr. Peres will be joining us again in a few moments.
Uh, may we use your copy machine?
The copy machine is closed.
Terje: Thank you.
Qurie (over phone): Hello?
Qurie: Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Yes, yes, Puntoffle.
Listen to me. I’m calling for the father.
He wishes to speak with your grandfather.
He wants to finish it. On this phone. Now. Tonight.
Do you understand?
Qurie: Yes, I do. I will call you back.
No, no, no, no, no. Don’t call me back.
Qurie: I will call you back.
(phone line beeping)
I’m sorry. It’s stuck in the copy machine, and I can’t get it out.
Well, then ask her for help.
But she said we could not use it.
I-I will fix it.
(phone continues ringing)
Qurie (over phone): Larsen, I am here.
Puntoffle. Thank God.
Qurie: I am with the grandfather.
Qurie: And with the entire ruling council.
We have just informed them of our channel, and what is to now transpire.
Wow. Okay. And, uh… and…
The news. How are they taking it?
Qurie: Let’s move on.
The grandfather’s English is not as he wishes.
Therefore, he asks that I speak for and to him.
Qurie: And I ask that you, Larsen, are the one I speak to.
For here, what men begin together, men must finish together.
I’ll get Shimon.
(clattering over phone)
It is a total breach of protocol.
If you are uneasy in any way…
I understand. And it is.
But Johan Jorgen, I think we must acknowledge that now we are all very far beyond the bounds of protocol.
Let us begin.
The father repeats his demand regarding future settlements.
Not unless UN Resolutions 242 and 338 are to be included in this document!
Qurie: Official boundaries of all Israeli settlements abutting the city of Jericho must be set by both parties.
Larsen: The father says to tell the grandfather the little country has already compromised on this issue.
Let me pass that on.
The grandfather says yes.
Yes. He’s, he’s willing to accept that.
Yes? All right. Good. Good. Thank you.
Ugh. Um… the grandfather says he’s going to bed.
Call him when… when you change your mind.
Qurie: We will accept that their forces be in charge of border security.
But our forces must have joint control of all checkpoints.
Tell him our checkpoints, our soldiers.
We will not cede this point.
Qurie: Tell him we will burn this document and wage war upon you until the last days of time!
But also that we are open to a counterproposal.
We will accept that the Palestine Liberation Organization… is the official voice of the Palestinian people.
Qurie: We will accept… the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
Jerusalem will remain solely the capital of Israel.
Qurie: Larsen! Larsen!
This is not the bluffing!
In the name of constructive ambiguity, we will accept that in the final stage of further negotiations, the future of Jerusalem will be addressed.
Qurie: We accept this document.
As do we.
(indistinct sounds over phone)
what is that sound?
Qurie: They are crying.
All of them.
They did not think they would live to see this day.
(men sobbing over phone)
Rabin: Let me say to you, the Palestinians, we are destined to live together, on the same soil, in the same land.
We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with blood; we, who have come from a land where parents bury their children; we, who have fought against you,
the Palestinians, we say to you today, in a loud and a clear voice, enough of blood and tears.
Mona: “The Oslo channel began with the hopes of creating a dialogue between adversaries. Already, this process has succeeded beyond anything we imagined: The establishment of a Palestinian state. Movement towards a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.”
(typewriter keys clacking)
“And yet, undoubtedly, objection to this process is coming.”
(Rabin speaking Hebrew)
I am very shocked for this awful and terrible crime… against one of the brave leaders of Israel. And a peacemaker.
Mona: “For the efforts of any peoples to bridge their hatreds is always met by some with fierce resistance. But whatever mistakes were made, whatever unintended events have been unleashed, I still believe this channel was worth doing. For if we do not sit across from our enemies, and hear them, and see them as human beings, what will become of us?”