Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The Camp David Peace Proposal of July, 2000 and the so-called Barak's Generous Offer.

Why did the Palestinians reject the Camp David Peace Proposal?

For a true and lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinianpeoples, there must be two viable and independent states living asequal neighbors. Israel's Camp David proposal, which was never setforth in writing, denied the Palestinian state viability andindependence by dividing Palestinian territory into four separatecantons entirely surrounded, and therefore controlled, by Israel. TheCamp David proposal also denied Palestinians control over their ownborders, airspace and water resources while legitimizing and expandingillegal Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory. Israel's Camp Davidproposal presented a 're-packaging' of military occupation, not an endto military occupation. 


Didn't Israel's proposal give the Palestinians almost all of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967?

No. Israel sought to annex almost 9 percent of the Occupied PalestinianTerritories and in exchange offered only 1 percent of Israel's own territory.In addition, Israel sought control over an additional 10 percent of theOccupied Palestinian Territories in the form of a "long-term lease".However, the issue is not one of percentages—the issue is one ofviability and independence. In a prison for example, 95 percent of the prisoncompound is ostensibly for the prisoners—cells, cafeterias, gym andmedical facilities—but the remaining 5 percent is all that is needed for theprison guards to maintain control over the prisoner population.
Similarly, the Camp David proposal, while admittedly making Palestinianprison cells larger, failed to end Israeli control over the Palestinianpopulation.

Did the Palestinians accept the idea of a land swap?

The Palestinians were (and are) prepared to consider any idea that isconsistent with a fair peace based on international law and equality ofthe Israeli and Palestinian peoples. The Palestinians did consider theidea of a land swap but proposed that such land swap must be based on aone-to-one ratio, with land of equal value and in areas adjacent to theborder with Palestine and in the same vicinity as the lands to beannexed by Israel. However, Israel's Camp David proposal of a nine-to-one land swap (in Israel's favor) was viewed as so unfair as toseriously undermine belief in Israel's commitment to a fair territorialcompromise. 


How did Israel's proposal envision the territory of a Palestinian state?

Israel's proposal divided Palestine into four separate cantonssurrounded by Israel: the Northern West Bank, the Central West Bank,the Southern West Bank and Gaza. Going from any one area to anotherwould require crossing Israeli sovereign territory and consequentlysubject movement of Palestinians within their own country to Israelicontrol. Not only would such restrictions apply to the movement ofpeople, but also to the movement of goods, in effect subjecting thePalestinian economy to Israeli control. Lastly, the Camp David proposalwould have left Israel in control over all Palestinian borders therebyallowing Israel to control not only internal movement of people andgoods but international movement as well. Such a Palestinian statewould have had less sovereignty and viability than the Bantustanscreated by the South African apartheid government. 


How did Israel's proposal address Palestinian East Jerusalem?

The Camp David Proposal required Palestinians to give up any claim tothe occupied portion of Jerusalem. The proposal would have forcedrecognition of Israel's annexation of all of Arab East Jerusalem. Talksafter Camp David suggested that Israel was prepared to allowPalestinians sovereignty over isolated Palestinian neighborhoods in theheart of East Jerusalem, however such neighborhoods would remainsurrounded by illegal Israeli colonies and separated not only from eachother but also from the rest of the Palestinian state. In effect, sucha proposal would create Palestinian ghettos in the heart of Jerusalem. 


Why didn't the Palestinians ever present a comprehensive permanent settlement proposal of their own in response to Barak's proposals?

The comprehensive settlement to the conflict is embodied in UnitedNations Resolutions 242 and 338, as was accepted by both sides at theMadrid Summit in 1991 and later in the Oslo Accords of 1993. Thepurpose of the negotiations is to implement these UN resolutions (whichcall for an Israeli withdrawal from land occupied by force by Israel in1967) and reach agreement on final status issues. On a number ofoccasions since Camp David—especially at the Taba talks—thePalestinian negotiating team presented its concept for the resolutionof the key permanent status issues. It is important to keep in mind,however, that Israel and the Palestinians are differently situated.

Israel seeks broad concessions from the Palestinians: it wants to annexPalestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; obtain rights toPalestinian water resources in the West Bank; maintain militarylocations on Palestinian soil; and deny the Palestinian refugees' theirright of return. Israel has not offered a single concession involvingits own territory and rights. The Palestinians, on the other hand, seekto establish a viable, sovereign State on their own territory, toprovide for the withdrawal of Israeli military forces and colonies(which are universally recognized as illegal), and to secure the rightof Palestinian refugees to return to the homes they were forced to fleein 1948. Although Palestinian negotiators have been willing toaccommodate legitimate Israeli needs within that context, particularlywith respect to security and refugees, it is up to Israel to definethese needs and to suggest the narrowest possible means of addressingthem. 


Why did the peace process fall apart just as it was making real progress toward a permanent agreement?

Palestinians entered the peace process on the understanding that (1) itwould deliver concrete improvements to their lives during the interimperiod, (2) that the interim period would be relatively short induration—i.e., five years, and (3) that a permanent agreement wouldimplement United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. But the peace processdelivered none of these things. Instead, Palestinians suffered moreburdensome restrictions on their movement and a serious decline intheir economic situation. Israeli colonies expanded at an unprecedentedpace and the West Bank and Gaza Strip became more fragmented with theconstruction of settler "by-pass" roads and the proliferation ofIsraeli military checkpoints. Deadlines were repeatedly missed in theimplementation of agreements. In sum, Palestinians simply did notexperience any "progress" in terms of their daily lives.

However, what decisively undermined Palestinian support for the peaceprocess was the way Israel presented its proposal. Prior to enteringinto the first negotiations on permanent status issues, Prime MinisterBarak publicly and repeatedly threatened Palestinians that his "offer"would be Israel's best and final offer and if not accepted, Israelwould seriously consider "unilateral separation" (a euphemism forimposing a settlement rather than negotiating one). Palestinians feltthat they had been betrayed by Israel who had committed itself at thebeginning of the Oslo process to ending its occupation of Palestinianlands in accordance with UN Resolutions 242 and 338. 


Doesn't the violence which erupted following Camp David prove that Palestinians do not really want to live in peace with Israel?

Palestinians recognized Israel's right to exist in 1988 and re-iteratedthis recognition on several occasions including Madrid in 1991 and theOslo Accords in September, 1993. Nevertheless, Israel has yet toexplicitly and formally recognize Palestine's right to exist. ThePalestinian people waited patiently since the Madrid Conference in 1991for their freedom and independence despite Israel's incessant policy ofcreating facts on the ground by building colonies in occupied territory(Israeli housing units in Occupied Palestinian Territory—notincluding East Jerusalem—increased by 52 percent since the signing of theOslo Accords and the settler population, including those in EastJerusalem, more than doubled). The Palestinians do indeed wish toliveat peace with Israel but peace with Israel must be a fair peace—notan unfair peace imposed by a stronger party over a weaker party. 


Doesn't the failure of Camp David prove that the Palestinians are just not prepared to compromise?

The Palestinians have indeed compromised. In the Oslo Accords, thePalestinians recognized Israeli sovereignty over 78 percent of historicPalestine (23 percent more than Israel was granted pursuant to the 1947 UNpartition plan) on the assumption that the Palestinians would be ableto exercise sovereignty over the remaining 22 percent. The overwhelmingmajority of Palestinians accepted this compromise but this extremelygenerous compromise was ignored at Camp David and the Palestinians wereasked to "compromise the compromise" and make further concessions infavor of Israel. Though the Palestinians can continue to makecompromises, no people can be expected to compromise fundamental rightsor the viability of their state. 


Have the Palestinians abandoned the two-state solution and do they now insist on all of historic Palestine?

The current situation has undoubtedly hardened positions on both sides,with extremists in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territoriesclaiming all of historic Palestine. Nevertheless, there is no evidencethat the PA or the majority of Palestinians have abandoned the two-state solution. The two-state solution however is most seriouslythreatened by the on-going construction of Israeli colonies and by-passroads aimed at incorporating the Occupied Palestinian Territories intoIsrael. Without a halt to such construction, a two-state solution maysimply be impossible to implement—already prompting a number ofPalestinian academics and intellectuals to argue that Israel will neverallow the Palestinians to have a viable state and Palestinians shouldinstead focus their efforts on obtaining equal rights as Israelicitizens. 


Isn't it unreasonable for the Palestinians to demand the unlimited right of return to Israel of all Palestinian refugees?

The refugees were never seriously discussed at Camp David because PrimeMinister Barak declared that Israel bore no responsibility for therefugee problem or its solution.Obviously, there can be nocomprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict withoutresolving one of its key components: the plight of the Palestinianrefugees. There is a clearly recognized right under international lawthat non-combatants who flee during a conflict have the right to returnafter the conflict is over. But an Israeli recognition of thePalestinian right of return does not mean that all refugees willexercise that right. What is needed in addition to such recognition isthe concept of choice. Many refugees may opt for (i) resettlement inthird countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine(though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel)or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country wherethey currently reside. In addition, the right of return may beimplemented in phases so as to address Israel's demographic concerns.

Source: The Palestine Liberation Organization's Negotiations Affairs Department

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