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The Clinton Bridging Proposals for Final Settlement
December 2000

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Following the failure of talks at Camp David   in July and the outbreak of violence in September of 2000, Israeli PM Ehud Barak resigned December 10. Nonetheless, in a last minute effort to read a settlement between the sides, negotiators met at Bolling Air Force Base in the USA as guests of US President Clinton. On December 20, Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and PA negotiator Saeb Erekat met in the White House with President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. These talks did not produce results. On December 23, President Clinton made a bridging offer summarizing the differences between the sides and proposing the resolution of each issue as stated below. He asked for replies by December 27. Clinton subsequently (January 7) reported that both sides had accepted the proposals as a basis for further negotiations. The proposals  as they  appeared in various sources are not detailed.. They do not include maps, and seem to refer to principles for dividing up the territory rather than detailed borders, though other sources have produced a map that supposedly accompanied the Clinton bridging proposal. The proposals allude to an international force, but the nature or role of this force is not elaborated.

The account below was released in the Israeli press and is generally accepted as correct. It is not official. No official document was released.

Ami Isseroff

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Based on what I heard, I believe that the solution should be in the mid-90 percents, between 94-96 percent of the West Bank territory of the Palestinian State.

The land annexed by Israel should be compensated by a land swap of 1-3 percent in addition to territorial arrangements such as a permanent safe passage.

The parties also should consider the swap of leased land to meet their respective needs...

The Parties should develop a map consistent with the following criteria:

  • 80% of settlers in blocks

  • contiguity

  • Minimize the annexed areas

  • Minimize the number of Palestinians affected

  • Security

The key lies in an international presence that can only be withdrawn by mutual consent. This presence will also monitor the implementation of the agreement between both sides.

My best judgment is that the Israeli presence would remain in fixed locations in the Jordan Valley under the authority of the international force for another 36 months. This period could be reduced in the event of favorable regional developments that diminish the threat to Israel.

On early warning stations, Israel should maintain three facilities in the West Bank with a Palestinian liaison presence. The stations will be subject to review every 10 years with any changes in the status to be mutually agreed. (According to the Israeli version of the minutes, Clinton said the stations would be subject to review after 10 years).

Regarding emergency developments, I understand that you will still have to develop a map of the relevant areas and routes. I propose the following definition: imminent and demonstrable threat to Israel's national security of a military nature that requires the activation of a national state emergency. Of course, the international forces will need to be notified of any such determination

On airspace, I suggest that the state of Palestine will have sovereignty over its airspace but that the two sides should work out special arrangements for Israeli training and operational needs.

I understand that the Israeli position is that Palestine should be defined as a "demilitarized state" while the Palestinian side proposes "a state with limited arms." As a compromise, I suggest calling it a "non-militarized state."

This will be consistent with the fact that in addition to a strong Palestinian security force, Palestine will have an international force for border security and deterrent purposes.


The general principle is that Arab areas are Palestinian and Jewish ones are Israeli. This would apply to the Old City as well. I urge the two sides to work on maps to create maximum contiguity for both sides.

Regarding the Haram\Temple Mount, I believe that the gaps are not related to practical administration but to symbolic issues of sovereignty and to finding a way to accord respect to the religious beliefs of both sides.

I know you have been discussing a number of formulations.... I add to these two additional formulations guaranteeing Palestinian effective control over the Haram while respecting the conviction of the Jewish People. Regarding either one of those two formulations [there] will be international monitoring to provide mutual confidence.

1. Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over

a) the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism of which it is a part or

b) the Western Wall and the Holy of Holies of which it is a part.

There will be a firm commitment by both not to excavate beneath the Haram or behind the Wall.

2. Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and shared functional sovereignty over the issue of excavation under the Haram and behind the Wall such that mutual consent would be requested before any excavation can take place.


I sense that the differences are more relating to formulations and less to what will happen on a practical level.

I believe that Israel is prepared to acknowledge the moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people as a result of the 1948 war and the need to assist the international community in addressing the problem.

The fundamental gap is on how to handle the concept of the right of return. I know the history of the issue and how hard it will be for the Palestinian leadership to appear to be abandoning the principle.

The Israeli side could not accept any reference to a right of return that would imply a right to immigrate to Israel in defiance of Israel's sovereign policies and admission or that would threaten the Jewish character of the state.

Any solution must address both needs.

The solution will have to be consistent with the two-state approach - the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Under the two-state solution, the guiding principle should be that the Palestinian state should be the focal point for the Palestinians who choose to return to the area without ruling out that Israel will accept some of these refugees.

I believe that we need to adopt a formulation on the right of return that will make clear that there is no specific right of return to Israel itself but that does not negate the aspiration of the Palestinian people to return to the area.

I propose two alternatives:

1. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to 'historic Palestine' or

2. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

The agreement will define the implementation of this general right in a way that is consistent with the two-state solution. It would list the five possible homes for the refugees:

1. The State of Palestine

2. Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap

3. Rehabilitation in host country

4. Resettlement in third country

5. Admission to Israel

In listing these options, the agreement will make clear that the return to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and area acquired in the land swap would be right to all Palestinian refugees, while rehabilitation in host countries, resettlement in third countries and absorption into Israel will depend upon the policies of those countries.

Israel could indicate in the agreement that it intends to establish a policy so that some the refugees would be absorbed into Israel consistent with Israeli sovereign decision.

I believe that priority should be given to the refugee population in Lebanon.

The parties would agree that this implements Resolution 194.

The End of Conflict

I propose that the agreement clearly mark the end of the conflict and its implementation put an end to all claims. This could be implemented through a UN Security Council Resolution that notes that resolutions 242 and 338 have been implemented and through the release of Palestinian prisoners.

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