Camp David 2000 Summit: Wikis


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Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
and Arab–Israeli conflict series
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a The Golan Heights are not part of the Israeli-Palestinian process.

The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. It was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a "final status settlement" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The summit

President Clinton announced his invitation to Barak and Arafat on July 5, 2000, to come to Camp David to continue their negotiations on the Middle East peace process. Building on the positive steps towards peace of the earlier 1978 Camp David Accords where President Jimmy Carter was able to broker a peace agreement between Egypt, represented by President Anwar Sadat, and Israel represented by Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Oslo Accords of 1993 between the later assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat had provided that agreement should be reached on all outstanding issues between the Palestinians and Israeli sides - the so-called final status settlement - within five years of the implementation of Palestinian autonomy. However, the interim process put in place under Oslo had fulfilled neither Israeli nor Palestinian expectations, and Arafat argued that the summit was premature[citation needed].

On July 11, the Camp David 2000 Summit convened. The summit ended on July 25, without an agreement being reached. At its conclusion, a Trilateral Statement was issued defining the agreed principles to guide future negotiations.[3]


Trilateral statement (full text)

President William J. Clinton — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak — Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat Between July 11 and 24, under the auspices of President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat met at Camp David in an effort to reach an agreement on permanent status. While they were not able to bridge the gaps and reach an agreement, their negotiations were unprecedented in both scope and detail. Building on the progress achieved at Camp David, the two leaders agreed on the following principles to guide their negotiations:

  1. The two sides agreed that the aim of their negotiations is to put an end to decades of conflict and achieve a just and lasting peace.
  2. The two sides commit themselves to continue their efforts to conclude an agreement on all permanent status issues as soon as possible.
  3. Both sides agree that negotiations based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 are the only way to achieve such an agreement and they undertake to create an environment for negotiations free from pressure, intimidation and threats of violence.
  4. The two sides understand the importance of avoiding unilateral actions that prejudge the outcome of negotiations and that their differences will be resolved only by good faith negotiations.
  5. Both sides agree that the United States remains a vital partner in the search for peace and will continue to consult closely with President Clinton and Secretary Albright in the period ahead.

The negotiations

There were four principal obstacles to agreement:


The Palestinian negotiators indicated they wanted full Palestinian sovereignty over all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, although they would consider a one-to-one land swap with Israel. They maintained that Resolution 242 calls for full Israeli withdrawal from these territories, which were captured in the Six-Day War, as part of a final peace settlement, although Israel disputes this interpretation of Resolution 242. In the 1993 Oslo Accords the Palestinian negotiators accepted the Green Line borders for the West Bank.

Barak offered to form a Palestinian State initially on 73% of the West Bank (that is, 27% less than the Green Line borders) and 100% of the Gaza Strip. In 10 to 25 years the West Bank area would expand to 90-91% (94% excluding greater Jerusalem).[1][2][3] As a result, "Israel would have withdrawn from 63 settlements."[4] The West Bank would be separated by a road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, with free passage for Palestinians although Israel reserved the right to close the road for passage in case of emergency. The Palestinian position was that the annexations would block existing road networks between major Palestinian populations. In return, the Israelis would cede 1% of their territory in the Negev Desert to Palestine. The Palestinians rejected this proposal.

Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

A particularly virulent territorial dispute revolved around the final status of Jerusalem. Leaders were ill prepared for the central role the Jerusalem issue in general and the Temple Mount dispute in particular would play in the negotiations.[5] Barak instructed his delegates to treat the dispute as "the central issue that will decide the destiny of the negotiations" whereas Arafat admonished his delegation to "not budge on this one thing: the Haram is more precious to me than everything else." [6]

According to Prime Minister Barak, the Israeli team proposed "annexing to Jerusalem cities within the West Bank beyond the '67 border, like Maale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev and Gush Etzion, and in exchange for this to give to the Palestinians the sovereignty over certain villages or small cities that had been annexed to Jerusalem just after '67" [7]

The Palestinian position, according to Mahmoud Abbas, at that time Arafat's chief negotiator: "All of East Jerusalem should be returned to Palestinian sovereignty. The Jewish quarter and Western Wall should be placed under Israeli authority, not Israeli sovereignty. An open city and cooperation on municipal services." [8]

The Palestinians rejected a proposal for "custodianship," though not sovereignty, over the Temple Mount. They demanded complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem's Islamic holy sites, in particular, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Refugees and the right of return

Due to the first Arab-Israeli war, a significant number of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes inside what is now Israel. These refugees, numbering over 700,000 at the time (and about four million today), comprise about half the Palestinian people. Since that time, the Palestinians have called for full implementation of the right of return, meaning that each refugee would be granted the option of returning to his or her home, with property restored, or accept compensation instead.

Israelis asserted that allowing a right of return to Israel proper, rather than to the newly created Palestinian state, would mean an influx of Palestinians that would fundamentally alter the demographics of Israel, jeopardizing Israel's Jewish character and its existence as a whole. The Israelis also argued that a larger number of Jewish refugees had fled or were expelled from Arab countries since 1948, and were not compensated, and that most of them ended up in Israel.

At Camp David, the Palestinians maintained their traditional position that the right of return be implemented. To address Israel's demographic concerns, they promised that the right of return be implemented via a mechanism agreed upon by both sides, which would channel the majority of refugees against the option of returning to Israel.[9] According to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, some of the Palestinian negotiators were willing to discuss privately a limit on the number of refugees who would be allowed to return to Israel.[10]

The Israeli negotiators denied that Israel was responsible for the refugee problem. In the Israeli proposal, a limited number of refugees would be allowed to return to Israel on the basis of humanitarian considerations or family reunification. All other people currently classified as Palestinian refugees would be settled in their present place of inhabitance, the Palestinian state, or third-party countries. An international fund would be set up, to which Israel would contribute along with other countries, that would register claims for compensation of property and make payments within the limits of its resources.[11]

Israeli security concerns

The Israeli negotiators wanted the following requirements to be part of the agreement: Early warning stations inside the Palestinian state; Israeli control of Palestinian airspace; the right of Israel to deploy troops in the Palestinian state in the event of an emergency; the stationing of an international force in the Jordan Valley. Furthermore the Palestinian state was to be demilitarized.[12]

Reasons for impasse

Both sides blamed the other for the failure of the talks: the Palestinians claiming they were not offered enough, and the Israelis claiming that they could not reasonably offer more. According to The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East, "most of the criticism for [the] failure [of the 2000 Camp David Summit] was leveled at Arafat,"[13] referring to US public opinion.

Ehud Barak claimed that he offered Arafat an eventual 91% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, with Palestinian control over Eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the new Palestinian state; in addition, all refugees could apply for compensation of property from an international fund to which Israel would contribute along with other countries. The Palestinians wanted the immediate withdrawal of the Israelis from the occupied territories, and only subsequently the Palestinian authority would dismantle the Palestinian terror organizations. The Israeli response as stated by Shlomo Ben-Ami was "we can't accept the demand for a return to the borders of June 1967 as a pre-condition for the negotiation."[14]

Clinton blamed Arafat after the failure of the talks, stating, "I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that nation into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace." [4] The failure to come to an agreement was widely attributed to Yasser Arafat, as he walked away from the table without making a concrete counter-offer and because Arafat did little to quell the series of Palestinian riots that began shortly after the summit.[13][15][16] Arafat was also accused of scuttling the talks by Nabil Amr, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority.[17]

In 2004, two books by American participants at the summit were published that placed the blame for the failure of the summit on Arafat. The books were The Missing Peace by longtime US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross and My Life by President Clinton. Clinton wrote that Arafat once complimented Clinton by telling him, "You are a great man." Clinton responded, "I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one."[18]

Clayton Swisher wrote a rebuttal to Clinton and Ross's accounts about the causes for the breakdown of the Camp David Summit in his 2004 book, "The Truth About Camp David."[19] Swisher, the Director of Programs at the Middle East Institute, concluded that the Israelis and the Americans were at least as guilty as the Palestinians for the collapse. MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, a think-tank in Washington, praised the book: "Clayton Swisher's 'The Truth About Camp David,' based on interviews with [US negotiators] Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and [Aaron] Miller himself provides a comprehensive and acute account -- the best we're likely to see -- on the [one-sided diplomacy] Miller describes." [20]

Norman Finkelstein published an article[21] in the winter 2007 issue of Journal of Palestine Studies, excerpting from his longer essay called Subordinating Palestinian Rights to Israeli "Needs". The abstract for the article states: "In particular, it examines the assumptions informing Ross’s account of what happened during the negotiations and why, and the distortions that spring from these assumptions. The article demonstrates that, judged from the perspective of Palestinians’ and Israelis’ respective rights under international law, all the concessions at Camp David came from the Palestinian side, none from the Israeli side."

Alan Dershowitz a law professor at Harvard University said that the failure of the negotiations was due to "the refusal of the Palestinians and Arafat to give up the right of return. That was the sticking point. It wasn't Jerusalem. It wasn't borders. It was the right of return." He claims that President Clinton told this to him "directly and personally."[22]

In 2006, Shlomo Ben-Ami stated on Democracy Now! that "Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well. This is something I put in the book. But Taba is the problem. The Clinton parameters are the problem" referring to his 2001 book Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy. .[23]

In his book, The Oslo Syndrome, Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry and historian [24][25] Kenneth Levin summarized the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit in this manner: "[D]espite the dimensions of the Israeli offer and intense pressure from President Clinton, Arafat demurred. He apparently was indeed unwilling, no matter what the Israeli concessions, to sign an agreement that declared itself final and forswore any further Palestinian claims."[15] Levin argues that both the Israelis and the Americans were naive in expecting that Arafat would agree to give up the idea of a literal "right of return" for all Palestinians into Israel proper no matter how many 1948 refugees or monetary compensation Israel offered to allow.

Berkeley political science professor Ron Hassner has argued that it was the failure of participants at the negotiations to include religious leaders in the process or even consults with religious experts prior to the negotiations that led to the collapse of the negotiations over the subject of Jerusalem. "Both parties seem to have assumed that the religious dimensions of the dispute could be ignored. As a result, neither party had prepared seriously for the possibility that the Temple Mount issue would come to stand at the heart of the negotiations." [5] Political Scientist Menahem Klein, who advised the Israeli government during the negotiations, confirmed that "The professional back channels did not sufficiently treat Jerusalem as a religious city... It was easier to conduct discussions about preservation of historical structures in the old city than to discuss the link between the political sanctity and the religious sanctity at the historical and religious heart of the city." [26]

Clinton Parameters

In a last attempt to bring Middle East peace before his second term ended in January 2001, Clinton wrote a proposal to Barak and Arafat, laying down the parameters for future negotiations.[5] Barak accepted the parameters (with some reservations that were within those parameters)by Clinton's deadline. Arafat, after a delay that went beyond the Clinton deadline, declined, according to Ambassador Dennis Ross, the special Mideast envoy.

Clinton's initiative led to the Taba negotiations in January 2001, where the two sides published a statement saying they had never been closer to agreement (though such issues as Jerusalem, the status of Gaza, and the Palestinian demand for compensation for refugees and their descendants remained unresolved), but Barak, facing elections, resuspended the talks.[6] The increased violence led to a sharp swing to the right in Israeli politics; Ehud Barak was defeated by Ariel Sharon in 2001.

See also


  1. ^ "Actual Proposal Offered At Camp David". Map from Dennis Ross book, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
  2. ^ Camp David Proposals for Final Palestine-Israel Peace Settlement
  3. ^ Camp David 2 Maps According to Orient House
  4. ^ Shyovitz, David. "Camp David 2000." Jewish Virtual Library.
  5. ^ a b Hassner, Ron E. War on Sacred Grounds. 2009. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. pp. 78-88. [1]
  6. ^ ibid., p.80
  7. ^
  8. ^ See the September 9, 2000 speech by Abbas listed in the references
  9. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), p. 102
  10. ^ Madeleine Albright (2003), p. 618
  11. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), p. 101 and pp. 247-249.
  12. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), pp. 110-111
  13. ^ a b Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002. p. 145.
  14. ^ 2003 Charles Enderlin book, Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 1995-2002. Use the Google Book Search form at the bottom of the linked page to find the quotes. Shlomo Ben-Ami quoted on page 195.
  15. ^ a b Kenneth Levin (2005), p. 422.
  16. ^ Segal, Jerome M. "Ha'aretz - October 1, 2001." The Jewish Peace Lobby. 1 October 2001.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Shyovitz, David. "Camp David 2000." Jewish Virtual Library.
  19. ^ ISBN 1560256230
  20. ^ "Bush Gets It Right". By MJ Rosenberg. Israel Policy Forum.
  21. ^ "The Camp David II Negotiations: How Dennis Ross Proved the Palestinians Aborted the Peace Process". By Norman G. Finkelstein. Journal of Palestine Studies. Winter 2007 issue. Article is excerpted from his longer essay called Subordinating Palestinian Rights to Israeli "Needs"
  22. ^ Dershowitz, Alan. Interview. "Noam Chomsky v. Alan Dershowitz: A Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." Democracy Now!. 23 December 2005.
  23. ^ Shlomo Ben-Ami vs Norman Finkelstein Debate. "Fmr. Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami Debates Outspoken Professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process" Democracy Now!. 14 February 2006.
  24. ^ "CAMERA: How to Donate Books." CAMERA: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
  25. ^ Alexander, Edward. "Review of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege." Middle East Forum. Spring 2006.
  26. ^ Klein, Menahem. Shattering a Taboo: The Contacts towards a Permanent Status Agreement in Jerusalem, 1994-2001. 2001. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Studies. cited in Hassner, ibid., p.81 [2]


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