2000 Camp David Summit

2000 Camp David Summit

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. Ultimately, it was an 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. There was a hopeful precedent in the 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.[4]

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 the entire 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 but the Israelis rejected this proposal. They wanted to annex the numerous settlement blocks on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, and were concerned that a complete return to the 1967 borders was dangerous to Israel's security.

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 10–25 years, the Palestinian state would expand to a maximum of 90-91% of the West Bank (94% excluding greater Jerusalem).[1][2][3] As a result, Israel would have withdrawn from 63 settlements.[4] Israel would only keep the settlements with large populations. All others would be dismantled, with the exception of Kiryat Arba (adjacent to the holy city of Hebron), which would be an Israeli enclave inside the Palestinian state, and would be linked to Israel by a bypass road. The West Bank would be split in the middle by an Israeli-controlled road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, with free passage for Palestinians, although Israel reserved the right to close the road to passage in case of emergency. In return, Israel would allow the Palestinians to the use a highway in the Negev to connect the West Bank with Gaza. In the Israeli proposal, the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be linked by an elevated highway and an elevated railroad running through the Negev, ensuring safe and free passage for Palestinians. This highway would be under the sovereignty of Israel, and Israel reserved the right to close the highway to passage in case of emergency.

The Palestinians rejected this proposal on grounds that Israel did not offer land in return for the land it planned to annex, the settlements that Israel wanted to annex cut existing road networks between population centers, the settlement blocs that Israel wanted to keep would separate the West Bank into cantons, and that they could not accept Israel still having the capability of controlling freedom of movement inside a Palestinian state.

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 (the Temple Mount) is more precious to me than everything else."[6]

The Palestinians demanded complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem and its holy sites, in particular, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are located on the Temple Mount, a site holy in both Islam and Judaism, and the dismantling of all Israeli neighborhoods built over the Green Line. 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."[7]

Israel proposed that the Palestinians be granted "custodianship," though not sovereignty, on the Temple Mount, with Israel retaining control over the Western Wall, a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple Mount, and one of the most sacred sites in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount itself. Israeli negotiators also proposed the Palestinians be granted administration, but not sovereignty, over the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City, with the Jewish and Armenian Quarters remaining in Israeli hands, and indicated readiness to consider total Palestinian sovereignty over the Muslim and Christian Quarters.[8] Palestinians would be granted administrative control over all Islamic and Christian holy sites, and would be allowed to raise the Palestinian flag over them. A passage linking northern Jerusalem to Islamic and Christian holy sites would be annexed by the Palestinian state. The Israeli team proposed annexing to Israeli Jerusalem settlements within the West Bank beyond the Green Line, such as Ma'ale Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, and Gush Etzion. Israel proposed that the Palestinians merge together certain outer Arab villages and small cities that had been annexed to Jerusalem just after 1967[9] (such as : Abu Dis, Alezariye, 'Anata, A-Ram, and eastern Sawahre) to create the city of Al-Quds, which would serve as the capital of Palestine. Israeli neighborhoods within East Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty. Outlying Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would come under Palestinian sovereignty, and core Arab neighborhoods would remain under Israeli sovereignty, but would gain autonomous powers. Palestinian Jerusalem would be run by a Palestinian civilian administration, with the possibility of merging it to Israeli Jerusalem, in which case Palestinian Jerusalem would be governed by a Palestinian branch municipality within the framework of an Israeli higher municipal council.

Palestinians objected to the lack of sovereignty (they were only offered administrative control) over Islamic holy sites (meaning that those were legally still under Israeli sovereignty), while Israel would be able to retain sovereignty over Jewish holy sites. They also objected to Israel retaining sovereignty over certain culturally or religiously significant Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem (such as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and At Tur), and to the right of Israel to keep Jewish neighborhoods that it built over the Green Line in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claimed block the contiguity of the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Refugees and the right of return

Due to the first Arab-Israeli war, a significant number of Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes inside what is now Israel. These refugees numbered 420,000 - 756,000 at the time. Today, they and their descendants number about four million, comprising about half the Palestinian people. Since that time, the Palestinians have demanded 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. Israel rejected the calls, fearing that the sheer number of refugees would demographically overwhelm the country.

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, were never compensated, and that most of them ended up in Israel.

At Camp David, the Palestinians maintained their traditional demand that the right of return be implemented. They demanded that Israel recognize the right of all refugees who so wished to settle in Israel, but to address Israel's demographic concerns, they promised that the right of return would be implemented via a mechanism agreed upon by both sides, which would try to channel a majority of refugees away from the option of returning to Israel.[10] Each refugee, however, would have the option to return to Israel. According to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, some of the Palestinian negotiators were willing to privately discuss a limit on the number of refugees who would be allowed to return to Israel.[11] Palestinians who chose to return to Israel would do so gradually, with Israel absorbing 150,000 refugees every year.

The Israeli negotiators denied that Israel was responsible for the refugee problem, and were concerned that any right of return would pose a threat to Israel's Jewish character. In the Israeli proposal, a maximum of 100,000 refugees would be allowed to return to Israel on the basis of humanitarian considerations or family reunification. All other people classified as Palestinian refugees would be settled in their present place of inhabitance, the Palestinian state, or third-party countries. Israel would help fund their resettlement and absorption. An international fund of $30 billion would be set up, which Israel would help contribute to, along with other countries, that would register claims for compensation of property lost by Palestinian refugees and make payments within the limits of its resources.[12]

Israeli security concerns

The Israeli negotiators proposed that Israel be allowed to set up radar stations inside the Palestinian state, and be allowed to use its airspace. Israel also wanted the right to deploy troops on Palestinian territory in the event of an emergency, and the stationing of an international force in the Jordan Valley. Palestinian authorities would maintain control of border crossings under temporary Israeli observation. Israel would maintain a permanent security presence along 15% of the Palestinian-Jordanian border.[1] Israel also demanded that the Palestinian state be demilitarized with the exception of its paramilitary security forces, that it would not make alliances without Israeli approval or allow the introduction of foreign forces east of the Jordan River, and that it dismantle terrorist groups.[13] One of Israel's strongest demands was that Arafat declare the conflict over, and make no further demands. Israel also wanted water resources in the West Bank to be shared by both sides and remain under Israeli management.

Reasons for impasse

Both sides blamed the other for the failure of the talks: the Palestinians claiming they were offered little more than cantons of territory, and the Israelis claiming that they could not reasonably offer more territory.

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".[14] Ehud Barak stated that he offered Arafat an eventual 91% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, with some Palestinian control over Eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods as a 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.[15] The Palestinians wanted the immediate withdrawal of the Israelis from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and only subsequently the Palestinian authority would dismantle the Palestinian terror organizations. The Israeli response as stated by Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel's Minister of Foreign Relations who participated in the talks, was "we can't accept the demand for a return to the borders of June 1967 as a pre-condition for the negotiation."[16]

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." 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.[14][17][18] Arafat was also accused of scuttling the talks by Nabil Amr, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority.[19]

Although in U.S. media Barak's offer was often portrayed as being "generous," the Israeli group Gush Shalom stated[20] that "the offer is a pretense of generosity for the benefit of the media", and included detailed maps of what the offer specifically entailed. Among Gush Shalom's concerns with Barak's offer were Barak's demand to annex large settlement blocs (9% of the West Bank) with no Israeli land given to a proposed Palestinian state in return, the lack of contiguity that the settlement blocs cause for a Palestinian state, lack of trust in the commitment and/or possibility of the Israeli government to evacuate the thousands of non-bloc Israeli settlers in the 15-year timeline, limited sovereignty for Palestinians in Jerusalem (the historically important Arab neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan,and At-Tur would remain under Israeli sovereignty, while Palestinians would only have sovereignty over the outer Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem), the lack of Palestinian sovereignty over holy sites in Jerusalem (Palestinians would only receive "administrative control" over their holy sites, and the Old City's Muslim and Christian Quarters, however Israel was to receive complete sovereignty over Jewish holy sites, and the Old City's Jewish and Armenian Quarters).

Two books published in 2004 placed the blame for the failure of the summit on Arafat. They 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."[21] During a lecture in Australia, Ross suggested that the reason for the failure was Arafat's unwillingness to sign a final deal with Israel that would close the door on any of the Palestinians' maximum demands, particularly the right of return. Ross claimed that what Arafat really wanted was "a one-state solution. Not independent, adjacent Israeli and Palestinian states, but a single Arab state encompassing all of Historic Palestine".[22]

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.[23] 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." [24]

Norman Finkelstein published an article[25] 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, an Israel advocate and 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 claimed that President Clinton told this to him "directly and personally."[26]

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. .[27]

In his book, The Oslo Syndrome, Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry and historian[28] 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."[17] 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 how much 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 consult 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." [29]

According to Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, when Arafat realized that the Summit negotiations would not result in the meeting of all of his demands, he ordered Hamas as well as Fatah and the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, to launch terror attacks against Israel.[30]

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 of the Second Intifada led to a sharp swing to the right in Israeli politics; Ehud Barak was defeated by Ariel Sharon in 2001.

Public opinion towards the summit

The Palestinian public was supportive of Arafat's role in the negotiations. After the summit, Arafat's approval rating increased seven percentage points from 39 to 46%.[31] Overall, 68% of the Palestinian public thought Arafat's positions on a final agreement at Camp David were just right and 14% thought Arafat compromised too much while only 6% thought Arafat had not compromised enough.[7]

Barak did not fare as well in public opinion polls. Only 25% of the Israeli public thought his positions on Camp David were just right as opposed to 58% of the public that thought Barak compromised too much.[32] A majority of Israelis were opposed to Barak's position on every issue discussed at Camp David except for security.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b "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. www.waronsacredgrounds.org
  6. ^ Hassner, Ron E. War on Sacred Grounds. 2009. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p.80 www.waronsacredgrounds.org
  7. ^ See the September 9, 2000 speech by Abbas listed in the references
  8. ^ The proposed division of Jerusalem
  9. ^ http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Speeches%20by%20Israeli%20leaders/2000/Statement%20by%20PM%20Barak%20on%20Conclusion%20of%20the%20Camp%20Da
  10. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), p. 102
  11. ^ Madeleine Albright (2003), p. 618
  12. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), p. 101 and pp. 247-249.
  13. ^ Gilead Sher (2006), pp. 110-111
  14. ^ a b Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002. p. 145.
  15. ^ Camp David and After: An Exchange (1. An Interview with Ehud Barak) by Benny Morris, 13 June 2002
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ a b Kenneth Levin (2005), p. 422.
  18. ^ Segal, Jerome M. "Ha'aretz - October 1, 2001." The Jewish Peace Lobby. 1 October 2001.
  19. ^ http://www.amin.org/eng/uncat/2002/sept/sept02.html
  20. ^ Barak's 'Generous' offer
  21. ^ Shyovitz, David. "Camp David 2000." Jewish Virtual Library.
  22. ^ Ross, Michael - The Volunteer (2007)
  23. ^ ISBN 1560256230
  24. ^ "Bush Gets It Right". By MJ Rosenberg. Israel Policy Forum.
  25. ^ "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"
  26. ^ Dershowitz, Alan. Interview. "Noam Chomsky v. Alan Dershowitz: A Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." Democracy Now!. 23 December 2005.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Alexander, Edward. "Review of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege." Middle East Forum. Spring 2006.
  29. ^ 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 [1]
  30. ^ " Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000," Khaled Abu Toameh, September 29, 2010, Jerusalem Post.
  31. ^ Camp David Summit, Chances for Reconciliation and Lasting Peace, Violence and Confrontations, Hierarchies of Priorities, and Domestic Politics. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 2000. [2]
  32. ^ Israeli Poll 1 27–31 July 2000. Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, 2000.[3]


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