More negotiations in the wings?


JERUSALEM, July 26 (JTA) — Despite the failure of the Camp David summit, some optimistic notes are being sounded about the prospects for peace.

Some observers are saying that the talks opened up areas of discussion the two sides had never ventured into before, and that this could prove fruitful in the weeks ahead.

The White House did not rule out the possibility of another summit, but spokesman Joe Lockhart said Wednesday that there are currently no plans “to bring the leaders back for a session with the president.”

Upon his return to Israel on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Barak hinted that there could be more talks with the Palestinians.

“Today I return from Camp David, look in the millions of eyes on whose behalf I went, and say with a crushed heart, we have not succeeded — for now,” Barak said at a state welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport.

At the same time, however, he left little doubt of who was to blame for the summit’s failure.

“We did not succeed because our neighbors, the Palestinians, have not yet internalized that for a true peace they must concede on some of their dreams,” Barak said. “They have to give, not just demand.”

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, who had attended the Camp David summit, said Wednesday in New York that the onus is now on the Palestinians to take the next step in the peace process.

Rubinstein — who was dispatched by Barak to New York to provide Jewish leaders with insight into what transpired at the summit — said at a new conference that despite the ultimate failure of the talks, dialogue between the two sides would continue.

“We are not going away. The Palestinians are not going away,” he said. “But I think now it’s their turn.”

Following the summit’s failure, details are beginning to emerge about the stances taken there by Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

According to a “very senior source” traveling on Barak’s plane to Israel from Washington, the following positions were put forward at the summit:

• Israel agreed to grant the Palestinians 88 percent of the West Bank;

• Israel agreed to absorb several thousand Palestinian refugees within the framework of family reunification.

• Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat refused to back off his demand for the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to the homes they abandoned during the 1948 War of Independence.

• The Palestinians rejected a proposal by President Clinton to put off a decision on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the Old City for several years.

• Israel part agreed to grant the Old City a special status under which it would remain under Israeli sovereignty while granting free access to holy sites to all religions.

• Israel agreed to grant the Palestinians autonomous rule over the Temple Mount, but with a request that a special section be reserved for Jewish prayers. Israel also proposed that the Palestinians have free access to the site via a road or bridge.

• Israel proposed that a Palestinian capital be established adjacent to the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and be under Palestinian municipal rule, but with Israeli law still in effect.

When he announced the summit’s failure on Tuesday, Clinton said the talks had foundered over the issue of Jerusalem.

Cabinet minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was a member of the Israeli delegation at the summit, said a day later that when it came to Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat “presented himself not as the national and political leader of the Palestinians, but as an Islamic leader.”

Upon his return to the Gaza Strip from the summit, Arafat portrayed himself as the defender of the Arab and Muslim world’s interests in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is not only for the Palestinians. It is for the Palestinians, for the Arab nation, for the Christians and for Muslims everywhere,” he said Wednesday after receiving a hero’s welcome from thousands of Palestinians.

“Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, like it or not,” Arafat said.

Using one of his favorite expressions, he added, “Whoever does not like it, let him go and drink from the Sea of Gaza.”

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