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   Oslo Peace Process: Camp David Proposals Commentary I Commentary III  Broken Lives Fatal Error?

The End of the Oslo Peace Process - Commentary II

September 27, 2001
The Camp David Projective Test

Ami Isseroff

[based on comments originally published in Viewpoints, and subsequently revised]

No substantive official summaries or proposals were forthcoming from the still-born Camp David negotiations for the final settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict. Some facts and speculations are reviewed elsewhere at Mideastweb ( http://www.mideastweb.org/campdavid2.htm ). The vacuum of fact, the possibility of propaganda gain, and the interest of the public, have invited a host of speculations and allegations that cannot be evaluated objectively, due to lack of evidence.  The result is a series of “projective tests” in which each commentator reads their own biases into the events. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami's views were aired in Ha'aretz. Akram Hanieh, a member of the Palestinian team, published his views in Palestine-Israel Journal. Oslo negotiator Ron Pundak,  Palestinian researcher Khalil Shikaki,  Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery and Middle East analyst Tony Klug each related different histories. Former US President Clinton blamed Yasser Arafat, and Robert Malley presented an opposing position.

Pro-Israel analysts maintained that the Palestinians were offered 97.5% of the territory in the final negotiations in December of 2000, while pro-Palestinian negotiators maintained that the territory offered was far smaller. If it is not possible to get agreement on a quantifiable datum, it is certainly impossible to get agreement on the content of other proposals. Israelis maintain that the Palestinians were offered virtually complete sovereignty over most of East Jerusalem, while pro-Palestinians insist that they were offered demeaning crumbs, along with a proposal (unverified, like most allegations) to build a synagogue on the Haram as Sharif (Temple Mount). The truth is out there, but it is much more complicated and shrouded in battle fog.

There are several facts that stand out and are indisputable. Before, during and after the negotiations, and throughout the peace process, Israel continued to build settlements in the occupied territories, and withdrew its soldiers from only a small area. No settlement was evacuated. The Israeli proposals never amounted to a contiguous territory in the West Bank, and could be measured as "97.5%" only by removing the area of Jerusalem and a large area that would remain in Israeli hands for a long time (see discussion and maps at http://www.mideastweb.org/campdavid2.htm).

The Palestinians, for their part, violated the agreements by amassing arms and recruiting “police” beyond the permitted levels, refused to act effectively against terror groups, taught children to “liberate Palestine” in paramilitary camps and maintained a barrage of uncompromising anti-Israeli propaganda and incitement. This included television programs and editorials, as well as demonstrations, centered around the absolute “right of return” which would most certainly destroy Israel as a Jewish state by creating an Arab majority in a short time, and including maps that showed all the land as Palestine. The show-stopper however, was the outbreak of violence on September 28. It is impossible to comprehend what induced the Palestinian National Authority to permit, encourage and maintain the violent uprising, which effectively put an end to any chance of peaceful compromise. Responsible elements of the PNA are trying to rein in the violence in the wake of the attacks on the United States, but they are not having much success as of this writing. It may be too late in any case. The Intifadeh gave the Israeli right the excuse it needed to launch a serious effort to perpetuate the occupation,  The September 11 attacks on the United States, coupled with visible signs of Palestinian popular support for those attacks, have amplified and complemented the damage done by the Intifadeh, as well as inviting massive Israeli retaliation and massive suffering for the Palestinians.

The Intifadeh effectively killed mass support for peace in Israel, as it killed the peace process. This is a fact verified in public opinion polls as well as the results of the last elections, and cannot be ignored. Most Israeli peace supporters were bitterly disappointed and felt betrayed by the outbreak of violence and by the endless stream of rhetoric in support of violence by Palestinian peace and reconciliation groups, as well as by extremists. Palestinians are disappointed that Israelis who are for peace are unable to stop Israeli PM Sharon, but the Intifadeh has made Sharon and the settlers unstoppable.

We all hope for the dawn of a new day in the Middle East, but it would be better to base our plans for action on realistic assessments of what has happened. However, it is unlikely that even if the violence stops, the Palestinians will get any offer that comes close to Camp David, for all its faults. It will be many years before Israelis forget the betrayal of the peace by the Intifadeh. The meager forces of Israeli peace supporters are focused on preventing Sharon and his right-wing allies from over-running the PNA controlled areas and wiping out the results of the Oslo accords entirely.

The bottom line is that at Camp David, the Palestinians sentenced the peace to death, and they carried out the sentence in the Intifadeh. What can come now will probably be a poor parody of peace for the Palestinians, a solution that will lead to more violence and more misery for both sides in the future. 

Ami Isseroff


The Infernal Scapegoat:Comments

by Ralph Seliger

Tony Klug's article ["The Infernal Scapegoat- Viewpoints, September 25- also circulated by Gush Shalom] is interesting, but it does not address what was most destructive in the Palestinian response to Camp David-- the recourse to violence. It was the new Intifada, along with the PA rhetoric on the "right of return" which totally convinced most Israelis and most of their supporters (including in the former Peace Camp) that the Palestinians are not ready for peace. Also, Israelis did not hear what Mr. Klug writes of in terms of the conditions which the PA was (perhaps) willing to negotiate regarding their "right of return"; all they heard, was a mostly uncompromising demand which would mean Israel's demise.

In fact, Viewpoints/ Mideastweb has published poll data from IPCRI which show that about 70% of Palestinians classified as refugees would insist on an actual "return", rather than a combination of compensation and a very token return which most Israelis can live with.

Furthermore, the points raised at the end on the need for Arabs in the region in general to reach out to Israelis, to offer true integration and acceptance of Israel as a state and a nation, come to the heart of the problem: both the elites and the so-called masses have been unwilling to do so. Will they do this just because the UN votes it in a resolution?

Ralph Seliger

(New York, NY)

co-editor ISRAEL HORIZONS, publication of Meretz USA


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