What If Bush Invited Sharon and Abu Mazen to Camp David? The Prospects for Negotiations in the Post-Arafat Era

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Dore Gold and David Keyes - * At President Clinton's failed Camp David peace summit in mid-2000, Barak offered more than any Israeli prime minister in history. Yet the talks exposed vast remaining disparities between Israel and many of today's post-Arafat Palestinian leaders on key issues that must be considered before the Bush administration dispatches a "presidential envoy" or risks convening yet another peace summit in the period ahead: o Refugees: As recently as January 1, 2005, Abu Mazen reiterated: "We won't forget the right of return of refugees who have been exiled from their land for more than half a century." "The right of return means a return to Israel, not to the Palestinian state," Abu Mazen wrote in the London Arabic daily al-Hayat several months after Camp David. o Borders: The Palestinians insisted that the June 1967 line be the recognized international boundary and even demanded the Latrun salient, which includes a section of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. The Palestinians rejected any Israeli sovereignty over national consensus suburban areas just beyond the municipal borders of Jerusalem, such as Maale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev. o Jerusalem: Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami noted that Abu Mazen, who had a reputation for moderation, suddenly became energized at Camp David and rejected U.S. proposals for compromise on Jerusalem. o Security Arrangements: Israel requested early warning stations in the West Bank for security purposes and the right to deploy forces in the event of an Arab coalition attack from the east. The Palestinians insisted that no Israeli soldier be on any of their territory and also rejected Israeli control of air space. Furthermore, the Palestinians made clear at Taba that they would not accept a demilitarized Palestinian state, either. * In 2001, Abu Mazen admitted, "Had the Camp David summit been convened again, we would have taken the same position" on the permanent status issues. * During the Oslo years, the explicit declarations of Palestinian leaders were often ignored and treated as statements for internal consumption alone. This does not mean that in 2005 no "window of opportunity" exists; rather, its actual size must be accurately measured. In the present context, a partial cease-fire or other limited arrangements are more realistic than significant progress on any of the substantive issues raised at Camp David in 2000.

2005-01-06 00:00:00

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