Did they? First off let us take a look at the claim that they made no proposal of their own. This does not seem to be true. In an interview, Israeli negotiator Shlomo Ben Ami had this to say:
[A]t Camp david I did chance to see some sort of Palestinian map. It was a map that reflected a concession of less than 2 percent on their part in return for a territorial swap in a 1:1 ratio. But the territories they wanted from us were not in the Halutza dunes, they wanted them next to the West Bank. I remember that according to their map, Kochav Yair, for example, was supposed to be included in the territory of the Palestinian state; they demanded sovereignty over Kochav Yair.
No matter how deep in his statement he tries to bury the word "map," the concrete fact is that this man did get to see one -- detailed enough to grasp which towns would be in the Palestinian state and which ones wouldn't. Only, he didn't like the proposal.
Of course, one may say that a negotiation is a negotiation, and you've always got to make concessions. But this particular negotiation was a land-for-peace one: this may be construed as all of the land for all of the peace, not some of the land for all of the peace. The Israelis telling the Palestinians "we'll give you most of your land but we'll retain this or that territory that used to be yours" is like the Palestinians telling the Israelis "we'll stop suicide bombings, but from time to time we'll throw a rocket or two on Sderot." Renouncing 2 pct of your own territory in exchange for a full commitment to peace looks to me a good enough concession.
But even if you disagree with that, is it true that Barak offered upwards of 90 pct of the West Bank to the Palestinians?
The maps would suggest otherwise. Here's what was offered at Camp David (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):
Green is Palestinian, pink is Israeli, pink with horizontal lines is an Israeli-controlled security zone. Does green look like 93-98 percent to you? Nor does it to me. If I were a mathematician I would be able to make calculations and find out exactly what portion of the map would correspond to the Palestinian State.
But without getting into that detail, anyone who sees this map immediately realizes it's an unacceptable vision of a Palestinian state. It's not contiguous, to begin with: a wide corridor of Israeli settlements, running from west to east, cuts off the northern part from the southern section. Also, there are two settlement wedges that cut deep into Palestinian territory reaching the settlements of Shilo and Ofra, the latter of which was built on private Palestinian land by Israel's own admission. So that in practice, the northern section itself would be divided into three cantons with only partial contiguity.
How much of a land grab does this amount to? While Israel never gave official figures, after the negotiations failed Ehud Barak wrote an article in the New York Times in which he outlined what was needed for Israel's security. Wrote Ehud:
What Israel ought to do now is take steps to ensure the long-term viability of its Jewish majority. That requires a strategy of disengagement from the Palestinians -- even unilaterally if necessary -- and a gradual process of establishing secure, defensible borders, demarcated so as to encompass more than 80 percent of the Jewish settlers in several settlement blocs over about 15 percent of Judea and Samaria, and to ensure a wide security zone in the Jordan Valley.
Now annexing settlement blocs containing about 80 percent of the 180,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank was official Israeli policy all along during Camp David. This article clarifies, at last, the amount of land involved: 15 percent of Judea and Samaria, not 3 to 7 percent. Add to that the "wide security zone," and at the very least 20 percent of the West Bank would remain under Israeli control.
Small wonder the Palestinians walked away. The gulf between their offer of a 2 percent land concession and the Isreali demand of 20 percent was just too deep to be resolved in that negotiation.
However, the negotiations continued, and in December 2000-January 2001 Barak made a second offer in Taba. Here's the map (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):
Now this looks like a 93-97 percent proposal. The settlement blocs are limited. There's territorial contiguity. The security zone in the Jordan Valley is gone. Why, then, did Arafat walk away from the Taba negotiation?
The answer is that he didn't. It was the Israelis who suspended the negotiations. On February 8, 2001, Barak's media advisor made a statement that:
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak clarified this evening that the ideas which were brought up in the course of the recent negotiations conducted with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, including those raised at the Camp David Summit and by President Clinton towards the end of his term in office, are not binding on the new government to be formed in Israel.
Thus, there was an offer rejected by the Palestinians, but it was not of 93-97 percent of the West Bank; and there was a 93-97 percent offer, but it was not rejected by the Palestinians. This can be summarized in the following table:
|Negotiation site||What was offered||Who walked away|
|Camp David||80-85 pct||the Palestinians|
By freely mixing the events that happened in Taba (i.e. Barak's 93-97 pct offer) with those that took place in Camp David (i.e. Arafat walking away from the negotiation), the Zionists manage to tell yet another half-truth that amounts to a full lie.