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After the Israelis and Palestinians came together to negotiate peace, it became a painful yet eye-opening lesson on why negotiations are doomed to fail

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L to R: Ehud Barak, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit in 2000

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Twenty years ago, the peace process died. It’s no exaggeration: a grand offer had been made to the Palestinians for a state, and much more. But what Israel got in return was not only desert sand tossed in its face, but a deadly intifada, just weeks later. It was a symbol of things to come, for the next two decades.

In the summer of 2000, then president Bill Clinton, seeking to leave a legacy that extends beyond Monica Lewinsky, invited Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Nobel Prize-winning terrorist Yasser Arafat to Camp David, Maryland. (It was in that very place that Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin signed a peace deal, in 1978, led by US President Carter.)

There, Clinton was hoping that the dialog, and the auspicious locale, would inspire the two leaders to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and usher in the elusive peace that was promised seven years earlier, after the Oslo Accords were signed.

The Camp David Summit’s negotiations spread over a period of two weeks. The Palestinians wanted full sovereignty over the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem, citing that the UN resolution 242 calls for a “full withdrawal from territories.” Israel, rejecting that proposal, disputed the interpretation of 242.

Prime Minister Barak offered 93 per cent of the West Bank, and 100 per cent of the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Israel wanted to hold on to Jewish homes, and some land, east of the Green Line. Barak also agreed to a maximum return of one hundred thousand Palestinian refugees.

The negotiations went back and forth, and no matter how many Israeli concessions were made, Arafat refused to sign an agreement. Most of the American and Israeli negotiators involved, including Ambassador Dennis Ross, and Bill Clinton, have publicly stated that Arafat was simply unwilling to sign any agreement, because it would mean an end to him asking for more in the future.

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This has been the Palestinian doctrine since the famous NOs of Khartoum – the basis of which was “no peace, ever, with Israel.” Embraced by Arafat, and subsequently by current president Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians never seem to want to end their battle against Israel.

Arafat returned from the US, determined to inflict maximum damage and pain on Israel. It was only weeks later that a new wave of violence began, and within a year, Israeli security forces discovered what they suspected all along: Arafat, and the PLO, had not just encouraged, but also funded, the violent uprising.

The peace process died in the aftermath of that terror. Israelis were no longer willing to accept that a peace partner existed on the other side.

The result also proved that at any time, Palestinian leadership can unleash terror attacks on Israel.

The next painful lesson is that when Israel hands over tangible gestures of peace, it receives war.

This was the case when Israel gave guns to Palestinian forces, in the early days of the Oslo Accords. They were subsequently used against the Israelis. This was also the case when Israel left Gaza in 2005, and the terrorist group Hamas took over. 

Graffiti at Bethlehem's security wall | Photo: Dan Meyers (Unsplash)

As we enter the twenty year mark since Palestinian leadership turned down the best offer they ever received from Israel, they might want to re-evaluate their approach. They’ve demanded everything, in addition to everything. And for years, the Arab world stood by them. 

Today, much of the Arab world has begun to understand that Palestinian leadership’s true aim is to continue the conflict and play the victim. It’s no secret that Palestinian leaders, decade over decade, have stolen money from everyday Palestinians. Billions in international aid money have been stolen, and squandered, with little accountability.

Meanwhile, complacency and blame-shifting has allowed the PLO and Hamas to deny rights to Palestinians, while blaming the “occupation.”

The Arab world has come to realize, slowly, that the Palestinian issue isn’t all Israel’s fault, and is much of Palestinian leadership’s doing. The Arab world has come to realize the hard reality that this all could have been solved long ago. The Arab world has come to realize that Israel has a lot to offer, and forsaking that means giving up the possibility for advancement in the world. 

How do we know this? Take an example from last week, when a sea change occurred: Israel and the UAE carved out a peace deal.

Peace with the Arab world no longer requires talk about Palestinians.

Maybe now, twenty years later, and a changing Arab world reality, might cause a new generation of Palestinians to consider real peace with Israel. All they have to do is come to the table.

Igal Hecht is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who works all over the world. 

For more info visit www.chutzpaproductions.com

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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