Israel - The Country That Wouldn't Grow Up

Peace Agreements

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Historical Background


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Peace Agreements

The 1988 Compromise Revisited - It's Not Hamas Terror Israel Fears

Video: A Real History of The 'Middle East Peace Process'

There Could Have Been Peace - The Arab Peace Initiative, 2002

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part I: Clinton (1999-2000)

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part II: Arafat (2001-2002)

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part III: Sharon (2003-2005)


Main Source Of Conflicts: Water?

Israel's Wars
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1948 War

War Of Independence

1956 Suez Crisis

The Suez Crisis

1967 June War

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1973 October War

Yom Kippur War

1982 Lebanon Invasion

Operation Peace for Galilee

1987 Palestine

The First Intifada

2000 Palestine

The Second Uprising (Al-Aqsa Intifada)

2006 Lebanon

Re-Invading Lebanon!

Related Links


If Americans Knew

Jewish Virtual Library

The (CIA) World Factbook

Very Pissed Off Combat Veterans -- And Blueprints For Change By John McCarthy

Israel & The Middle East Conflict

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Israel And The Arabs:
Elusive Peace
Part I: Clinton (1999-2000)

A new three part documentary series examines the last six years of the Arab-Israeli peace process from the point of view of presidents and prime ministers, their generals and ministers and those behind the suicide bombs and assassinations. The series reveals what happened behind closed doors as the peace process failed and the violence of the intifada exploded.

Part I: CLINTON (1999/2000)

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded US President Bill Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat.

But after tense negotiations the deal was never made.

Then Ariel Sharon made a controversial visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem, a site which is also holy to Jews.

runtime 50:48, click play to start each sequence

See complete video series:

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part I: Clinton (1999-2000)

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part II: Arafat (2001-2002)

VIDEO Israel And The Arabs: Elusive Peace Part III: Sharon (2003-2005)

Camp David: What went wrong?

Barak, Clinton, Arafat

Each side got a glimpse of the other's bottom line

By Middle East analyst Roger Hardy

After the high drama of the 15-day summit at Camp David, there are now some hard questions to be answered.

For the Americans, there is the question of whether President Bill Clinton has lost his chance of entering the history books as a peacemaker - or can still, at this late hour, bring a troubled peace process to some sort of conclusion in the next few months?

For the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, there is the difficult question of whether he really wants to declare statehood on 13 September without an agreement with the Israelis - or whether that would be a recipe for disaster.

For Ehud Barak, what's at issue is nothing less than his political survival, now that he has come home empty-handed.

Who was to blame?

Of the three men, none can entirely evade responsibility for the failure at Camp David. Bill Clinton won points for trying. But it is legitimate to ask whether he was right to force the pace, given the intractable nature of the issues the parties were grappling with.

A leading American specialist, William Quandt, has commented that Clinton was right to try, but should have done so a year earlier, rather than waiting until the tailend of his presidency.

One of the weaknesses of the Oslo peace process, after all, was that it deliberately left the most difficult issues - Jerusalem, refugees, borders - until last, in the mistaken belief that this would make them easier to resolve.

For his part, Ehud Barak showed he has guts but is a poor politician. Even Palestinians privately admit that no Israeli prime minister has ever gone so far towards meeting their demands.

Whether bravely or (as his critics allege) recklessly, Barak has pushed the limits of the possible - gambling that he could reverse his political fortunes at home by bringing back a comprehensive peace deal, and then winning convincing endorsement for it in a popular referendum.

For the moment, that gamble has not paid off. But even Barak's enemies grudgingly admit he has shown vigour and single-mindedness.

Both Barak and Clinton have, in differing degrees, blamed Yasser Arafat for the Camp David breakdown. In their eyes, the Palestinian leader has proved impossibly stubborn and inflexible.

But in one important respect Barak seems to have misjudged Arafat's position, believing that he would bargain away sovereignty in Jerusalem in return for most of the West Bank. For any Palestinian leader, such a trade-off was never on the cards. Jerusalem is as much of a red line for Arafat as it is for Barak.

Moving the goalposts

So did Camp David achieve nothing? It certainly transformed the character of the peace process.

All previous negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, however fraught, seem trivial compared with those two weeks in Maryland.

The two sides have broken some important taboos - on the Palestinian refugees' right of return, on whether Israel really needs the Jordan valley as its eastern flank, and, above all, on the central, highly charged and deeply symbolic issue of Jerusalem.

But more than that, each side for the first time got a glimpse of the other's bottom line. This is a painful but necessary step towards any eventual agreement.

Difficult step forward

But clinching that final deal won't be easy. Bill Clinton used his personal authority, and his undoubted skills of persuasion, at Camp David. That is unlikely to be repeated.

Moreover Barak and Arafat face considerable uncertainties as they confront their respective constituencies.

Barak must decide whether to limp forward with a minority government, cobble together a new coalition, or call fresh elections.

Arafat, although for the moment enjoying a hero's welcome, must come up with a new strategy - or else risk becoming the prisoner of his own September deadline. And he must somehow fend off the argument of those who say the only way to deal with Israel is through a return to armed struggle.

Camp David has changed the political landscape, but has also plunged the region into a new and uncertain phase.


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