Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who walked away from what

"Barak offered the Palestinians 97 percent of the West Bank, and Arafat walked away from the negotiations." How many times have you read this? For supplementary dramatic effect, it is often added "... without even bothering to make a counterproposal." The formula is indefatigably repeated with minor variations. Sometimes it's 93 percent, or 94, 95 or 98 percent (curiously, 96 percent is never mentioned), but the basic idea is that a generous offer was made and the Palestinians seized yet another opportunity to miss an opportunity.

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 siteWhat was offeredWho walked away
Camp David80-85 pctthe Palestinians
Taba93-97 pctIsrael


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.

10 comments:

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Just some quick thoughts:

1. Instead of refuting offstage straw "Zionists" why don't you address the claims of somoene authoritative whom you probably disagree with, like Dennis Ross?

2. Why don't you acknowledge that there is some controversy concerning these facts? Jewish Virtual Library does and Wikipedia has the discussion page.

3. Where did you get the idea that Barak's later recommendations for possibly unilateral withdrawl consitute evidence of what was offered at Camp David?

4. What are those maps and where do they come from? Does everyone agree with them? Are there other maps?

5. Who is this post written for? Someone with no background at all who won't think of any of the above questions?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

My answers:

1. Does Dennis Ross claim that Barak offered 97% of the West Bank and Arafat rejected it? Because I think you're aware that this claim is made by certain "Zionists," particularly in, but not restricted to, the blogosphere. And that's the claim I'm debunking; I never said I was presenting the ultimate analysis of Camp David and Taba.

2. Well, I'm part of the controversy! I'm making a point that has never been made as far as I know, namely that "Zionists" disingenuously mix the 97% Taba offer with Arafat's rejection of the Camp David offer to claim that "Barak offered 97% and Arafat rejected it."

3. Barak says that keeping 80% of the settlers in Israel would require retaining 15% of the West Bank land. Since Barak's position in Camp David was keeping 80% of the settlers in Israel, it seems reasonable to think that the land to be retained would be 15 percent, unless he was talking about different settlers.

4. They purport to be Barak's two offers and they come from Le Monde Diplomatique. Can you point to maps that fundamentally change the picture? More specifically, can you point to official Israeli maps, on .gov.il sites, that substantially differ from the ones I published?

5. No. Quite on the contrary, I want this blog to be visited by Hasbara peddlers. I'll learn more from them than from people who think like me.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I think you're aware that this claim is made by certain "Zionists"

I think there is a lot of sloppy discussion of these issues on both sides. What is the point of refuting nameless "Zionists" you can't be bothered to quote?

Well, I'm part of the controversy!

I mean the controversy that resulted from differing accounts from the actual negotiating teams, the "revisionist" account of Camp David, etc.

it seems reasonable to think that the land to be retained would be 15 percent, unless he was talking about different settlers

It isn't reasonable to ignore the accounts of the people who were there and present an inference instead.

More specifically, can you point to official Israeli maps, on .gov.il sites, that substantially differ from the ones I published?

You might check out the controversy over the maps in Dennis Ross's book and Jimmy Carter's use of them. IIRC, the negotiations themselves did not produce official maps. A map on this topic is a visual aid for someone's claims. You write "the maps suggest otherwise" as if there are official maps that everyone agrees on. Here is a link to one of the Ross maps:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/rossmap2.html

Quite on the contrary, I want this blog to be visited by Hasbara peddlers.

The post just seems like propaganda. A self-respecting reader would want some account of the serious discussion that has come before and your post's relationship to it.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I think there is a lot of sloppy discussion of these issues on both sides.

Yep, and I'm exposing the sloppiness of the Zionist side, in particular the claim "Barak offered 97% in Camp David and Arafat turned him down." If you want to expose the anti-Zionists' sloppiness, including mine, you're welcome to.

What is the point of refuting nameless "Zionists" you can't be bothered to quote?

For God's sake, do I have to actually name Zionists making the claim I refute? Next thing you'll ask me to name a few people who believe in horoscope, because you doubt that there are any.

Anyway, here are a few quotes:

What happened at Camp David ? (September, 2000). After US sponsored Peace talks, Israeli PM Barak offered 97% of the West Bank parts of East Jerusalem (Source)

The main problem is: Yasser Arafat.
why?: in 1999 (if i remember correctly), Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak (Israeli PM at the time) went to Camp David to try sign a treaty.
Barak offered 97% (!!!!!!!!) of the west bank.
(Source)

In 2000, at Camp David, Ehud Barak offered 97% of the West Bank & the Gaza strip to Arafat for a Palestinian State, at the outset (before negotiations started)! (Source)

When in 2000 at Camp David Ehud Barak offered 97 percent of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and half of Jerusalem as a resolution to the conflict... (Source).

The current Palestinian position recalls the Summer of 2000 at Camp David, where when offered all of Gaza and nearly 97 percent of the West Bank, Arafat caused the talks to break down by insisting on the "right of return." (Source)

These are Jewish communities, university professors, essay writers at Daniel Pipe's site or just plain ordinary citizens repeating the canard. What's the point of refuting them? Well, I'm furious that this is the discourse that has been engraved in the people's minds.

It isn't reasonable to ignore the accounts of the people who were there and present an inference instead.

Those accounts merit some inquiry. Ross is a frequent speaker at AIPAC meetings -- maybe he wrote the book to ensure lifetime speaking engagements with the Israel lobby? And what about his figures? Does he talk about 91% of the West Bank beyond the Green Line, or of the West Bank minus the already annexed zones?

The post just seems like propaganda. A self-respecting reader would want some account of the serious discussion that has come before and your post's relationship to it.

Are there any self-respecting readers left?

All blogging about the Israel/Palestine conflict is crap. Pure and simple propaganda. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

For God's sake, do I have to actually name Zionists making the claim I refute?

Most of what you cite looks like pretty low quality stuff. But yes, the reader should be given a chance to examine the merchandise.

Those accounts merit some inquiry. Ross is a frequent speaker at AIPAC meetings -- maybe he wrote the book to ensure lifetime speaking engagements with the Israel lobby?

He was there. He was doing a lot of the negotiating. That doesn't make him the last word, necessarily, but he is going to be a reference point no matter what.

All blogging about the Israel/Palestine conflict is crap. Pure and simple propaganda. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

Speak for yourself. Anyway, if you are going to present an elaborate post with maps and analysis as a corrective to sloppy citations of the facts, you are asking to be judged by a higher standard. So show some familiarity with the state of the debate and the most commonly referenced sources or face criticism if you don't. You can at least point your reader to a writer who reviews the sources.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

if you are going to present an elaborate post with maps and analysis as a corrective to sloppy citations of the facts, you are asking to be judged by a higher standard

Like when a country's prime minister says "we have the most moral army in the world"?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

No.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Caroline Glick just used the figure "ninety percent":

http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2008/10/israel_and_the_palestinians_en.asp

Is she one of those Hasbara-mongers your blog exists to refute?

JW said...

Personally, I can't see given
oooo.1% of the Jewish ancient homeland to a bunch of Allah Jew-murdering terrorists.
Every one who hand has Jewish blood on it should be put to death in the same manner, eveyone else should be [transfered] to a Muslim land (like Mecca or Yethrib)- then there will be TRUE peace.

My Blog said...

What Israel ought to do now is take steps to ensure the long-term viability of its Jewish majority. Small wonder the Palestinians walked away.