Camp David Peace Proposal Of July, 2000, Frequently Asked Questions,
For a Map of the Camp David Proposal:
1. Why did the Palestinians reject the Camp David Peace Proposal?
For a true and lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,
there must be two viable and independent states living as equal neighbors.
Israel's Camp David proposal, which was never set forth in writing, denied
the Palestinian state viability and independence by dividing Palestinian
territory into four separate cantons entirely surrounded, and therefore
controlled, by Israel. The Camp David proposal also denied Palestinians
control over their own borders, airspace and water resources while legitimizing
and expanding illegal Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory.
Israel's Camp David proposal presented a 're-packaging' of military occupation,
not an end to military occupation.
2. 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% of the Occupied Palestinian
Territories and in exchange offered only 1% of Israel's own territory.
In addition, Israel sought control over an additional 10% of the Occupied
Palestinian Territories in the form of a "long-term lease". However,
the issue is not one of percentages - the issue is one of viability and
independence. In a prison for example, 95% of the prison compound is ostensibly
for the prisoners - cells, cafeterias, gym and medical facilities - but
the remaining 5% is all that is needed for the prison guards to maintain
control over the prisoner population. Similarly, the Camp David proposal,
while admittedly making Palestinian prison cells larger, failed to end
Israeli control over the Palestinian population.
3. Did the Palestinians accept the idea of a land swap?
The Palestinians were (and are) prepared to consider any idea that is consistent
with a fair peace based on international law and equality of the Israeli
and Palestinian peoples. The Palestinians did consider the idea of a land
swap but proposed that such land swap must be based on a one-to-one ratio,
with land of equal value and in areas adjacent to the border with Palestine
and in the same vicinity as the lands to be annexed 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 to seriously undermine belief in Israel's commitment
to a fair territorial compromise.
4. How did Israel's proposal envision the territory of a Palestinian
Israel's proposal divided Palestine into four separate cantons surrounded
by Israel: the Northern West Bank, the Central West Bank, the Southern
West Bank and Gaza. Going from any one area to another would
require crossing Israeli sovereign territory and consequently subject movement
of Palestinians within their own country to Israeli control. Not only would
such restrictions apply to the movement of people, but also to the movement
of goods, in effect subjecting the Palestinian economy to Israeli control.
Lastly, the Camp David proposal would have left Israel in control over
all Palestinian borders thereby allowing Israel to control not only internal
movement of people and goods but international movement as well. Such a
Palestinian state would have had less sovereignty and viability than the
Bantustans created by the South African apartheid government.
5. How did Israel's proposal address Palestinian East Jerusalem?
The Camp David Proposal required Palestinians to give up any claim to the
occupied portion of Jerusalem. The proposal would have forced recognition
of Israel's annexation of all of Arab East Jerusalem. Talks after
Camp David suggested that Israel was prepared to allow Palestinians sovereignty
over isolated Palestinian neighborhoods in the heart of East Jerusalem,
however such neighborhoods would remain surrounded by illegal Israeli colonies
and separated not only from each other but also from the rest of the Palestinian
state. In effect, such a proposal would create Palestinian ghettos
in the heart of Jerusalem.
6. 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 United Nations
Resolutions 242 and 338, as was accepted by both sides at the Madrid Summit
in 1991 and later in the Oslo Accords of 1993. The purpose of the negotiations
is to implement these UN resolutions (which call for an Israeli withdrawal
from land occupied by force by Israel in 1967) and reach agreement on final
status issues. On a number of occasions since Camp David - especially at
the Taba talks - the Palestinian negotiating team presented its concept
for the resolution of 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 annex Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; obtain
rights to Palestinian water resources in the West Bank; maintain military
locations on Palestinian soil; and deny the Palestinian refugees' their
right of return. Israel has not offered a single concession involving
its own territory and rights. The Palestinians, on the other hand,
seek to establish a viable, sovereign State on their own territory, to
provide for the withdrawal of Israeli military forces and colonies (which
are universally recognized as illegal), and to secure the right of Palestinian
refugees to return to the homes they were forced to flee in 1948.
Although Palestinian negotiators have been willing to accommodate legitimate
Israeli needs within that context, particularly with respect to security
and refugees, it is up to Israel to define these needs and to suggest the
narrowest possible means of addressing them.
7. 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) it
would deliver concrete improvements to their lives during the interim period,
(2) that the interim period would be relatively short in duration - i.e.,
five years, and (3) that a permanent agreement would implement United Nations
Resolutions 242 and 338. But the peace process delivered none of
these things. Instead, Palestinians suffered more burdensome restrictions
on their movement and a serious decline in their economic situation.
Israeli colonies expanded at an unprecedented pace and the West Bank and
Gaza Strip became more fragmented with the construction of settler "by-pass"
roads and the proliferation of Israeli military checkpoints. Deadlines
were repeatedly missed in the implementation of agreements. In sum,
Palestinians simply did not experience any "progress" in terms of their
However, what decisively undermined Palestinian support
for the peace process was the way Israel presented its proposal. Prior
to entering into the first negotiations on permanent status issues, Prime
Minister Barak publicly and repeatedly threatened Palestinians that his
"offer" would be Israel's best and final offer and if not accepted, Israel
would seriously consider "unilateral separation" (a euphemism for imposing
a settlement rather than negotiating one). Palestinians felt
that they had been betrayed by Israel who had committed itself at the beginning
of the Oslo process to ending its occupation of Palestinian lands in accordance
with UN Resolutions 242 and 338.
8. 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-iterated
this recognition on several occasions including Madrid in 1991 and the
Oslo Accords in September, 1993. Nevertheless, Israel has yet to explicitly
and formally recognize Palestine's right to exist. The Palestinian
people waited patiently since the Madrid Conference in 1991 for their freedom
and independence despite Israel's incessant policy of creating facts on
the ground by building colonies in occupied territory (Israeli housing
units in Occupied Palestinian Territory - not including East Jerusalem
- increased by 52% since the signing of the Oslo Accords and the settler
population, including those in East Jerusalem, more than doubled).
The Palestinians do indeed wish to live at peace with Israel but peace
with Israel must be a fair peace - not an unfair peace imposed by a stronger
party over a weaker party.
9. 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, the Palestinians
recognized Israeli sovereignty over 78% of historic Palestine (23% more
than Israel was granted pursuant to the 1947 UN partition plan) on the
assumption that the Palestinians would be able to exercise sovereignty
over the remaining 22%. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians
accepted this compromise but this extremely generous compromise was ignored
at Camp David and the Palestinians were asked to "compromise the compromise"
and make further concessions in favor of Israel. Though the Palestinians
can continue to make compromises, no people can be expected to compromise
fundamental rights or the viability of their state.
10. 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 Territories
claiming all of historic Palestine. Nevertheless, there is no evidence
that the PA or the majority of Palestinians have abandoned the two-state
solution. The two-state solution however is most seriously threatened
by the on-going construction of Israeli colonies and by-pass roads aimed
at incorporating the Occupied Palestinian Territories into Israel.
Without a halt to such construction, a two-state solution may simply be
impossible to implement - already prompting a number of Palestinian academics
and intellectuals to argue that Israel will never allow the Palestinians
to have a viable state and Palestinians should instead focus their efforts
on obtaining equal rights as Israeli citizens.
11. 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 Prime
Minister Barak declared that Israel bore no responsibility for the refugee
problem or its solution. Obviously, there can be no comprehensive
solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without resolving one of its
key components: the plight of the Palestinian refugees. There is
a clearly recognized right under international law that non-combatants
who flee during a conflict have the right to return after the conflict
is over. But an Israeli recognition of the Palestinian right of return
does not mean that all refugees will exercise that right. What is needed
in addition to such recognition is the concept of choice. Many refugees
may opt for (i) resettlement in third 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 where they currently reside. In addition, the
right of return may be implemented in phases so as to address Israel's