Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why the Camp David negotiations failed: Setting the record straight

We fault Ehud Olmert for withdrawing from Lebanon.
Should be:
We fault Ehud Barak for withdrawing from Lebanon.

Those who do not learn from history may be condemned to repeat it. Since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are still in the offing, it is likely that understanding the reasons for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian parlay at Camp David in July of 2000 is a history lesson with important logical consequences for future talks.

Many of the accounts of the Camp David negotiations fault Ehud Barak for not being forthcoming enough with compromises the Palestinians could accept, or for not creating a congenial atmosphere, and not preparing the ground properly, in line with the critique of Agha and Malley. President Clinton, who hosted the talks, did not blame Israel at the time, but he did not make clear the real nature of the stumbling blocks.

A different commentator did elucidate the problem. He made it clear what concessions the Israelis were expected to make to the Palestinians in return for peace. This commentator was none other than Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, who is now the President of the Palestinian Authority and represents the moderate party in Palestinian political life. He is charged with leading the negotiations with Israel, should they be renewed.

In November of 2000, prior to the Washington and Taba meetings, Abu Mazen wrote an article that set forth the Palestinian demands, and the reason for the failure of the Camp David summit, with frank clarity.

Mahmoud Abbas's article was published in Beirut Al Hayat of November 23 and November 24, 2000. According to this article, two cardinal issues that brought about the failure of the negotiations were the Jerusalem issue and the question of "right" of return of the Palestinian refugees.

Regarding Jerusalem, Abbas explained all of the compromises which Ehud Barak had apparently offered at Camp David in July of 2000, and not just at Taba in 2001, in response to US pressure. These were, it seems, very far reaching. They included granting Palestinian sovereignty over most of the old city of Jerusalem as well as East Jerusalem outside the city walls. They were rejected.

Abbas explained:

"Our position on the issue of Jerusalem is simple: Jerusalem is part of the territories occupied in 1967 and, hence, Resolution 242 applies to it. Jerusalem must return to our sovereignty and we will establish our capital on it."

This is a rather ambitious stance, going beyond anything the Israeli public has been led to expect regarding Jerusalem.

In the first place, Abbas wrote, "Jerusalem must return to our sovereignty." Jerusalem was never under Palestinian Arab sovereignty in three thousand years of recorded history...


Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000382.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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