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Jerusalem, 14 November, 2000

The Compromise that Wasn't Found at Camp David 

It isn't a case of Israeli generosity, but of territorial division that will not enable the existence of a Palestinian state, says Faisal Husseini.

By Amira Hass

Following the Camp David summit, officials at Orient House decided to illustrate with maps the proposals raised there - and the Palestinians' objections to Ehud Barak's proposals. "The Israeli team didn't offer maps," says Faisal Husseini, who heads the Jerusalem negotiation team, "so we did it ourselves: we prepared maps that will immediately show the nature of the compromise offered to us there - the compromise that wasn't. The Israeli proposals, translated into maps, will be added to other maps that depict the details of the Palestinian proposals for a solution. The finishing touches on the maps of the Palestinian proposals and the conceptions behind them are now being added by the Jerusalem Task Force, the professional team that Husseini set up in May 2000.

Husseini and his task force, which is headed by Dr. Manuel Hasasian of Bethlehem University, initially intended to present the booklet of maps to their Israeli colleagues, the American ushers and the various European observers. Husseini says this is because the Palestinians honored the mutual commitment made at Camp David not to go to the media. "We had no interest in going public, we weren't looking for problems, rather we were looking for a solution."

However, the outbreak of the Intifada and the significant surprise among Israelis regarding the reasons for it, prompted him to make them public, even before the negotiations resume. In this way, the Palestinians hope, the relevant parties will understand why the proposals were neither a compromise nor a case of Israeli generosity; they were a territorial division that rules out the possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state.

After Camp David, Husseini says, his colleagues, who had been in contact with Israeli negotiators, discovered that none of them has a real mandate to negotiate. Everything is in Barak's hands. In the meantime, the 2000 Intifada broke out before negotiations truly resumed. World public opinion, Husseini says, "that is stuck on the perception of far-reaching Israeli generosity at Camp David, did not understand what the Palestinians were so enraged about. A decision was made to publicize the maps in order to explain the uprising, the people's anger and their argument that they are still subject to the rule of the occupation power and also to serve as a basis for resuming negotiations.

At Camp David, says Dr. Hasasian, the Israelis were vague. Once they spoke of annexing 5 percent of West Bank territory, another time they spoke of 10 percent. Sometimes the calculations were based on a smaller West Bank area, minus Area H (no man's land) from 1948, East Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Sometimes the calculations were based on the original area captured in 1967. Therefore, he explains, the maps are based on estimates and conclusions regarding the proposals made at Camp David and are not consensus maps.

The question of Jerusalem is essential for understanding the Palestinian objection to Barak's proposals, says Husseini, not because of its great religious importance, but because of its geographical location and its importance for guaranteeing Palestinian geographic continuity and viability. "Israel wants to determine the permanent borders based on the settlements - we say that the fate of the settlements will be determined by the borders."

Husseini reiterates everything that has already been said from every Palestinian platform and what he believes is the message of the Intifada today: the principle must be a return to the borders of June 4, 1967. The moment Israel accepts this principle, the Palestinians will be ready to negotiate a flexible implementation of it and of the fate of settlements - evacuation, territorial swaps, granting Palestinian citizenship to settlers who wish to remain. "But already at the Madrid Conference, we understood that the negotiations were on the basis of UN [Security Council] Resolutions 242 and 338," says Husseini. "The negotiations aren't over resolutions, but about how to implement them."

According to him, there is no contradiction between resuming negotiations and continuing the Intifada. "After all, in the end, a solution will be achieved only through negotiations. Israelis understand that they can negotiate while they expand and build settlements. I understand that I can negotiate while the Intifada continues. Or else Israel should immediately stop all building in the settlements."

The Jerusalem Task Force is in contact with the negotiation department headed by Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abas), but the drafting of the maps was its own independent initiative, says Husseini. Jerusalem is under discussion and here, too, the key word is settlements. Therefore, he is convinced his initiative affects the entire process. According to the data that the task force has, the Palestinian built-up area covers no more than 5 percent of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). The built-up area of the settlements (including East Jerusalem) covers about 1.8 percent of the area of the West Bank. This figure reflects the scale of Israeli construction since 1967 as well as the restriction of Palestinian development.

According to the Palestinians, the Israeli proposal at Camp David - which has been translated into the Orient House maps - perpetuates this principle: Jewish development, population expansion and establishing Jerusalem as an Israeli metropolis, and on the other hand, dividing and cutting off the Palestinian settlements from each other, pushing Palestinian Jerusalem to the margins, geographically, politically and economically speaking, and halting the natural process of transforming Bethlehem-Jerusalem-Ramallah into a Palestinian metropolis.

Had the Palestinians been willing to accept the Israeli solution for Jerusalem (which includes annexing the Adumim bloc - 120 square kilometers around Ma'aleh Adumim and the Etzion bloc - they would have in essence been agreeing to splitting the Palestinian state into two: north and south, with the passage between them under Israeli control. The Israeli demand at Camp David to also control two east-west routes (the Trans-Samaria highway and the Tel Aviv-Amman road, currently under construction) would mean that the Palestinian state would be divided into three cantons, as the Palestinians put it, and the links between them would always be at the mercies of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers

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