It is not often that two articles are enough to shake a powerful pillar of conventional wisdom and trigger an international firestorm. The influence of these articles, "Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors," by Robert Malley and Hussein Agha in The New York Review of Books1 and "Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why it Failed," by Deborah Sontag in The New York Times2 cannot be understood simply in terms of their content. Neither contained any particularly astonishing revelations. Rather, these articles seemed to have touched a chord that was just waiting to be struck.

The impact of the two articles, both published last summer, begs a number of questions. Why was there such receptivity to these "revisionist" perspectives? Why was the conventional wisdom so fragile? And most importantly, is this really a debate about what happened at the Camp David summit? Or is the debate about the summit actually a surrogate for something else?

A close examination of both articles only deepens these questions, since their substance tends to confirm the conventional wisdom they seek to refute. A brief review of their content is therefore essential, before moving on to the hidden questions that they pose.

Offering the Moon

Both articles succinctly describe the bubble they are attempting to burst. According to Sontag,
a potent, simplistic narrative has taken hold in Israel and to some extent in the United States. It says: Mr. Barak offered Mr. Arafat the moon at Camp David last summer. Mr. Arafat turned it down, and then "pushed the button" and chose the path of violence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is insoluble, at least for the foreseeable future.
Malley and Agha also succinctly expressed a similar thesis:
We often hear about Ehud Barak's unprecedented offer and Yasir Arafat's uncompromising no. … As orthodoxies go, this is a dangerous one. [The prevailing view] fails to capture why what so many viewed as a generous Israeli offer, the Palestinians viewed as neither generous, nor Israeli, nor, indeed, as an offer. [This view also] acts as a harmful constraint on American policy by offering up a single, convenient culprit—Arafat—rather than a more nuanced and realistic analysis.
Sontag, Malley, and Agha juggle three theses, not all of them expressed explicitly, but all of them mutually reinforcing:
  • the conventional view is simplistic, misleading, and wrong; blame for the failure of Camp David lies not just with Arafat, but with the United States and Israel as well;
  • the failure of Camp David (and subsequent violence) do not mean that the parties are far apart, that an agreement is impossible, or that Arafat is not a potential partner;
  • the basic blueprint for a future agreement was drawn at Camp David and its aftermath and is still available should the parties return to the negotiating table.
It is immediately apparent that these three theses are the interlocking parts of an argument that is less concerned with what did happen and more focused on what should happen in the future. Revisionism is an effort to apply the principles of creative diplomacy to the historical record. It is an inventive project. The problem with this approach is that it risks casting aside all the crucial lessons that should be learned from what really happened at Camp David and after. As it happens, the three theses are just that: theses, difficult to substantiate, easier to disprove. Let us consider them in order.

I. Blame Game

The claim of the Camp David revisionists, that the conventional view is simplistic, is true, but trivially so. Even now, much of what went on in the negotiations before, during, and after Camp David is enveloped in murky secrecy, and it is always useful to attempt to flesh out the picture with greater detail. Negotiations are extremely complicated animals, particularly when they are influenced by external events, politics, and individual personalities. And certainly the revisionist accounts are worth reading for any aficionado of the peace process or international diplomacy, in that they add a level of detail that was missing before. (There are other first-person accounts that are not infused with revisionist ideology and that are useful in this respect as well.)3

The more important question, however, is not whether there are levels of complexity missed by the conventional view, but whether the revisionists have brought anything to the table that fundamentally changes that view. Strangely enough, the "complexity" presented by the revisionists does more to reinforce the conventional view than refute it.

The first two pillars of the conventional view are that Ehud Barak made extraordinary efforts to achieve an agreement at Camp David and that this Israeli flexibility was met largely with intransigence on the Palestinian side. The revisionists, despite themselves, shore up both of these pillars.

Malley and Agha, for example, fault Barak for his "all-or-nothing approach" that led him to press the Palestinians into going to Camp David before they were ready. But they also explain that Barak's determination to break away from interim steps was driven by a desire to move mountains to reach a final agreement. They write:
Barak's single-minded focus on the big picture only magnified in his eyes the significance —and cost— of the small steps. Precisely because he was willing to move a great distance in a final agreement (on territory or on Jerusalem, for example), he was unwilling to move an inch in the preamble (prisoners, settlements, troop redeployment, Jerusalem villages).
Malley and Agha point out that Barak not only was the main force pressing to convene the Camp David summit, but that
Barak was eager for a deal, wanted it achieved during Clinton's term in office, and had surrounded himself with some of Israel's most peace-minded politicians.
They also confirm that,
As early as July 1999, during their first meeting, Barak had outlined to Clinton his vision of a comprehensive peace. He provided details regarding his strategy, a timetable, even the (astronomical) U.S. funding that would be required for Israel's security, Palestinian and Syrian economic assistance, and refugee resettlement. These were not the words of a man with a ploy but of a man with a mission.
The revisionists, in short, do not seem to question Barak's determination to reach a deal and his willingness to take substantial political risks in doing so. If anything, Malley and Agha seem to be charging Barak with being too flexible, making it impossible for the Palestinian side to determine when his real redline had been reached.

The Malley-Agha account of the dynamic of Israeli flexibility actually may be the most enlightening part of their article:
On the eve of Camp David, Israeli negotiators described their purported redlines to their American counterparts: the annexation of more than 10 percent of the West Bank, sovereignty over parts of the strip along the Jordan River, and rejection of any territorial swaps. At the opening of Camp David, Barak warned the Americans that he could not accept Palestinian sovereignty over any part of East Jerusalem other than a purely symbolic "foothold." Earlier, he had claimed that if Arafat asked for 95 percent of the West Bank, there would be no deal. Yet, at the same time, he gave clear hints that Israel was willing to show more flexibility if Arafat was prepared to "contemplate" the endgame. Bottom lines and false bottoms: the tension and the ambiguity were always there.
Gradual shifts in Barak's positions also can be explained by the fact that each of his proposals seemed to be based less on a firm estimate of what Israel had to keep and more on a changing appraisal of what it could obtain. Barak apparently thought that the Palestinians, if presented with a sufficiently attractive proposal and an appropriately unattractive alternative, would have no choice but to say "yes." In effect, each successive Palestinian "no" led to the next best Israeli assessment of what the Palestinians couldn't turn down.

Malley and Agha describe Barak's sliding-scale approach and conclude that its result was that "strictly speaking, there never was an Israeli offer." But this is disingenuous, since Barak's approach, from a Palestinian perspective, was ideal. Barak did not present the Palestinians with one final, all-or-nothing offer. He was clearly working to find an offer that was too generous to refuse. Malley and Agha give no reason to believe that if the Palestinians had at any point said "yes" or seriously engaged Israeli proposals, that Israel would not have reciprocated or that further Israeli offers would not have materialized.

In a post–Camp David interview, key Palestinian negotiator Mahmud ‘Abbas (Abu Mazin) contradicts the notion that there was no Israeli offer. When asked whether there were "temptations" Camp David, he responds,
The temptations were in what was offered … [but] despite the fact that it was true that they offered things that were never offered before, it never reached the level of our aspirations.4
The Malley-Agha confirmation of the second pillar of the conventional wisdom, that Arafat said "no," is just as striking. They begin with what may seem to some a shocking admission: that the Palestinian side came to Camp David, seven years after the famous Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn,
more resigned to the two-state solution than they were willing to embrace it; they were prepared to accept Israel's existence, but not its moral legitimacy.
Malley and Agha repeat the well-worn notion that the Palestinians, in their own minds, had made their first and last compromise before Camp David, by accepting a Palestinian state in only 22 percent of historic Palestine (all of the West Bank and Gaza). They try to demonstrate that even so, the Palestinians showed flexibility by considering creative variations on this theme, such as land swaps that would allow Israel to keep some land over the pre-1967 lines. Yet even they admit that
the Palestinians' principal failing is that from the beginning of the Camp David summit onward they were unable either to say yes to the American ideas or to present a cogent and specific counterproposal of their own.
They report that "an irate Clinton [told] Arafat: 'If the Israelis can make compromises and you can't, I should go home. You have been here fourteen days and said no to everything."' Malley and Agha do not really attempt to deny Clinton's charge; they merely explain the Palestinians' behavior. They state that Arafat viewed Camp David as a trap, so that his "primary objective became to cut his losses rather than maximize his gains." They even say of Arafat's Palestinian negotiators that "most chose to go through the motions rather than go for a deal" and that they "were unable to treat Camp David as a decisive, let alone a historic, gathering."

In sum, the revisionists, despite their own intentions, have failed in their efforts to spread the blame for failure more broadly.

II. "If Only"

Given that they so resoundingly confirm two pillars of the conventional wisdom—Barak's flexibility and desire for a deal and Arafat's intransigence and refusal to negotiate—how can the revisionists conclude that it is simplistic to blame Arafat for Camp David's failure? Their answer: it was a matter of bad timing and missed signals—or what Malley and Agha allude to in the title of their article, "A Tragedy of Errors."

The revisionists claim that the secret Stockholm channel that led to Camp David was cut off prematurely, that Barak sent the wrong signals at Camp David, and that the subsequent Taba talks would have produced a deal had time not run out. In the revisionist view, the tragic aspect of the process is captured in a series of "if onlys"—if only the Stockholm track had continued, if only Clinton had unveiled his parameters in September instead of the end of December, and if only Barak had not lost the election and the Taba talks had been resumed.

It is these "if onlys" that come closer to the heart of the revisionists' thesis, that an opportunity to achieve a deal was squandered through tactical errors. Alas, an examination of statements of players more central to the process than Malley and Agha calls this hypothesis into serious question.

The principals—Ehud Barak, Bill Clinton, and Yasir Arafat—have not given comprehensive, blow-by-blow accounts of what happened at Camp David. Three of the top-tier negotiators—Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami, U.S. mediator Dennis Ross, and Palestinian negotiator Abu Mazin—have all given somewhat detailed accounts. Two of these accounts, by Ross and Ben Ami, were made after publication of the Malley-Agha article and were partly rebuttals to it. Through these accounts, it is possible to evaluate the supposed tactical errors and missed signals one by one.

Malley and Agha, for example, give the impression that if only the Stockholm channel had been allowed to continue, rather than rushing the parties off to Camp David, the outcome would have been different. Dennis Ross explains, however, that the Stockholm channel was not shut down by Camp David but had already collapsed from exposure. According to Ross, after the proposals were leaked,
Abu Ala' [Ahmad Quriya, the Palestinian negotiator] negotiated in a completely different way … Every single idea the Israelis tried, and frankly, every idea I was trying, was not producing any response. … The Israelis did not kill the channel because they were not prepared to discuss any more. The channel stopped because basically it was not producing anything anymore.
Ross also addresses the timing of Camp David more generally, dismissing the idea that it was driven by Barak's over-eagerness. According to Ross, it was not just Barak, but Arafat, who "had been pushing us for some time to say that we have got to solve everything. No more limited deals, number one." Ross continued,
Number two, we didn't rush off to Camp David. Barak was pushing us to go to Camp David by the end of May. We went on July 11. We did not go on Barak's timetable, and Arafat knew we were not going on Barak's timetable, and Arafat did request more time to prepare, but then he would not do anything to make preparation possible.
Ross reveals that the month before the summit, which he spent attempting to prepare the parties, was actually a period in which the Palestinian negotiators "hardened their positions" and Arafat revealed nothing to him. Although both sides did not want any more interim deals, it was clear to Ross that the Israeli and Palestinian mindsets were completely different. According to Ross,
the most critical difference in the mindsets [just before Camp David was] that Barak was thinking about a historic deal, and Arafat was not. … Arafat was thinking in interim terms.5
Top Palestinian negotiator Abu Mazin admits that his side never intended to make any concessions at Camp David and viewed the whole exercise as a trap to be escaped, rather than an opportunity to establish a Palestinian state. Speaking of the pre–Camp David preparations, Abu Mazin states, "we made clear to the Americans that the Palestinian side is unable to make concessions on anything." Abu Mazin sums up Camp David as "a trap, from beginning to end.… We did not miss an opportunity at all, but rather survived a trap that was laid for us."6

The Palestinian admission that they saw Camp David as a trap explains why, for all intents and purposes, they did not negotiate there. At Camp David, the Palestinians proved that their refusal to negotiate was not a negotiating tactic, as the United States and Israel assumed, but their real position. What the Palestinians called a "trap" was precisely the expectation that they would have to negotiate, rather than receive 100 percent of their demands.

Malley, Agha, Abu Mazin, Ben Ami, and Ross all confirm that the Palestinians never really engaged in negotiations at Camp David and, despite massive pressure from President Clinton, never presented a counteroffer to Israel's proposals. But Ben Ami and Ross argue that the Palestinians actually went beyond intransigence, by introducing new obstacles to an agreement.

Ben Ami explains that at Camp David, the Israeli side was looking for a solution for Jerusalem that would be "a division in practice … that didn't look like a division." Israel, in other words, was willing to give in on the substance but wanted to save face. The Palestinians, however, "weren't ready for any face-saving formula for the Israelis. Not on the issue of the Temple Mount, not on sovereignty, not on anything." These tactics led even Malley to tell Ben Ami at Camp David that the "Palestinians want to humiliate you."7

According to Ross, Arafat was not only unable to rise above old mythologies but created new ones at Camp David. Ross reports that Arafat claimed that there "was no Temple in Jerusalem. It was only an obelisk." Ross comments on Arafat's historic creativity with diplomatic understatement: "When you question the core of the other side's faith, that is not exactly an indication that you are getting ready to try and end the conflict."8

The last "if only" that Malley, Agha, and Sontag postulate is what might have happened if the Taba talks had continued. These talks took place after the violent Palestinian rioting and attacks began, after Clinton had presented his "parameters" on December 23, 2000, and just before the Israeli elections and the end of Clinton's presidency.

At Taba, Israel pushed its Camp David approach of sweetening the offer to previously unimaginable extremes. Earlier, in November and December, Israel had completely dropped its refusal to divide Jerusalem. Israel was prepared, in Ben Ami's words, to accept "full Palestinian sovereignty on Haram ash-Sharif" with some recognition that the site was also "sacred to the Jews."9

Just as significantly, Israel's acceptance of the Clinton parameters had pushed Israel's territorial offer essentially to the 100 percent the Palestinians had said they insisted upon. Clinton's proposal was to transfer to the Palestinians 97 percent of the disputed territory—either 96 percent of the West Bank and 1 percent from Israel proper, or 94 percent from the West Bank and 3 percent from Israel proper. But, as Ben Ami explained,
Clinton also introduced into this formulation the concept of the safe passage route—over which Israeli sovereignty would be ethereal—[so] it could be argued that the Palestinians got almost 100 percent. Clinton constructed his proposal in such a way that if the Palestinians' answer was positive, they would be able to present the solution to their public as a solution of 100 percent.
According to Ben Ami, the map Israel was ready to accept would have "failed to meet the goal we set for ourselves and to which Clinton agreed—80 percent of the settlers in sovereign Israeli territory." This effort finally produced a Palestinian counter proposal that "effectively voided" the concept of settlement blocs, leaving "a few isolated settlements … dependent on thin strings of narrow access roads."10 The Palestinian map, according to Israel's calculation, proposed swapping 2.34 percent of the West Bank for Israeli territory. Ben Ami's interviewer, Ari Shavit, attempted to clarify what Ben Ami was saying:
Shavit: You say that during the whole period between June and January, in the period in which you conceded the Rift Valley and accepted the idea of a territorial swap and divided Jerusalem and handed over the Temple Mount—that the whole movement of the Palestinians was a fraction of a percentage point. So, all they added to the pledge of 2 percent that they gave at the outset to Clinton was 0.34 percent?

Ben Ami: It's hard for me to argue with you. But that is why the criticism we have taken from the left leaves me gaping. I simply don't understand it. … neither [Barak nor I were] professional peace industrialists. But look where we got to. Tell me what more we were supposed to do.
Ben Ami came to the conclusion that the Palestinians "don't want a solution as much as they want to place Israel in the dock of the accused. … [their goal is] undermining our existence as a Jewish state."11

In short, the failure to reach an agreement was not the product of errors but of vast substantive differences. Even the most far-reaching Israeli concessions could not entice the Palestinians to commit to resolving them solely by diplomatic means.

III. Supposed Blueprint

The purpose of revisionism is not so much to set out what happened at Camp David, but to prepare all sides psychologically for future negotiations. It is the instrumental manipulation of the past for future purposes. And to get from here to there—from the present confrontation to resumed negotiations—the revisionists assert that the blueprint for a deal is there for the taking. The assumption behind this belief is that Palestinian demands are finite and consistent with Israel's existence—and that peace lies just past the next few Israeli concessions.

This assumption is reflected in Sontag's conclusion, where she quotes Palestinian and Israeli negotiators Sa'ib ‘Urayqat and Gilad Sher,
Mr. Erekat said … "Clinton took us on a futuristic voyage. We have seen the endgame. It's just a matter of time." Mr. Sher agreed, "I still think that peace is doable, feasible and reasonable … That's the tragedy, because the basis of the agreement is lying there in arm's reach."
Yet this assumption is more an article of faith than a tested truth, and the experience of Camp David and Taba would seem to refute it. Architects of the peace process assume that there exists a fixed point at which Israeli flexibility meets Palestinian needs, if not expectations. In this static model there are only two variables: Israeli offers and the Palestinians' movement to meet those offers. At this unknown but extant point, the lines representing these variables converge. The peace process has been predicated on discovering that magic point—one that presumably lies just beyond the "progress" made at Camp David and after.

But following the experience of Camp David, it is obvious that this static model is too simplistic and that there is no such fixed point. The flip side of the Palestinian impression at Camp David that Israel had no real fixed "redlines" was that the Palestinians had no fixed point that would trigger a "yes." Indeed, the repetition of "no" had a perfect logic from the Palestinian perspective.

Why? The Palestinians perceived Israel's own determination to establish a Palestinian state. Many observers assume that Israeli acceptance of Palestinian statehood is a reluctant one. Far from it: not only has a Palestinian state become acceptable to Israelis, but it has been transformed into a desirable outcome, regarded by a wide spectrum of Israelis as an inevitable part of any resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For example, Shlomo Ben Ami, despite his belief that Arafat sees statehood as a way station on the road to Israel's destruction, still holds that "a Palestinian state is a moral and political necessity." And the desire for Palestinian statehood is not confined to the left of Israel's political spectrum. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon routinely refers to Arafat as "Israel's 'Bin Ladin,'" yet in September 2001 he stated:
The state of Israel wants to give the Palestinians what no one else has heretofore given them — the possibility of establishing a state. Neither the Turks, the English, the Egyptians, or the Jordanians gave them such a possibility. All that Israel has asked —and Arafat has committed himself to this— is to stop terrorism, to live in peace, to live in calm.12
What explains this wide Israeli consensus behind the creation of a Palestinian state? Such a state is deemed necessary to preserve Israel's own Jewish and democratic character. Without it, so the logic goes, the Palestinians eventually will constitute a (largely disenfranchised) majority of the inhabitants of Israel and Israeli-controlled territory. The demographic concerns that fuel this Israeli consensus are almost as strong on the right as they are on the left.The fact that many Israelis see a Palestinian state as inevitable and even desirable does not mean they have no apprehensions about how it might affect them. A poll among Israeli Jews and Arabs found that 65 percent believed that a future Palestinian state "will constitute a threat" to Israel.13 It is just that such a state is deemed to pose less of a threat to Israel than would a Palestinian majority within it.

The Palestinians are fully aware of this shift in the Israeli consensus. To them, it seems as though Israel has walked into the store having already decided it will leave only after it has bought the goods—a Palestinian state. But if the seller knows the buyer must buy, why not raise the price—again and again?

The major impediment to a deal, then, has not been Israeli obstinacy, but Israeli over-eagerness. So long as Israel is seen as a customer prepared to buy Palestinian independence at any price, the Palestinians will never feel they have heard Israel's final and best offer. This is why Camp David and Taba failed—and everything discovered by Malley, Agha, and Sontag merely confirm it.

Next Phase?

The Camp David revisionists thus perpetuate the cardinal error of the Camp David and Taba negotiations. They assume that reaching peace is about getting to the right terms. It isn't. The terms Barak offered to the Palestinians could not have been better—but the circumstances for making peace could not have been worse.

Israeli-Palestinian progress has always depended on a regional climate conducive to peacemaking—in particular, one that sets realistic limits on the theoretically limitless demands of the Palestinians. It is widely accepted that a critical element in forging the 1993 Oslo accords was the lack of any other option for Arafat. The Soviet Union had recently collapsed; Iraq had been defeated and forcibly ejected from Kuwait; Iran was still exhausted from the Iran-Iraq war; and there was a feeling in the world that democracy and freedom were on the march, behind an American drummer. Perhaps most importantly, Arafat himself was politically and financially on the ropes, having backed Saddam Husayn in the Kuwait War.

By the year 2000, the regional climate had deteriorated. Saddam Husayn was not only still in power, but the intrusive United Nations inspections that were supposed to disarm him had been eliminated. The wave of freedom that had swept over Central and Eastern Europe had not washed over Iran or the Arab world. And Israel had just rushed to complete a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. Although Israel may have been successful at compelling Syria to restrain Hizbullah, the withdrawal gave the impression that Israel could be driven out of territory by inflicting relatively small numbers of casualties on its armed forces.

The prestige of the United States had also been eroded. Not only did Saddam still stand in defiance, but a new nemesis, in the form of Usama bin Ladin, had arisen to strike American targets. In Somalia and East Africa, Americans died at the hands of extremist terror—and Washington's only response to the attacks were a few (mis)guided cruise missiles. In the 1990s, the United States acquired the reputation of a "paper tiger," afflicted by imperial overstretch. If the radicals could defy an American president, a Palestinian leader also could dare to say "no" to the world's most powerful man—and expect to be invited back to the White House.

In short, the late 1990s were precisely the wrong time to expect the Palestinians to make the compromises crucial to a final status agreement. Indeed, many Palestinians concluded that it was the perfect time to set aside diplomacy altogether. Why not erode Israel's resolve, by launching a small-scale version of the kind of war of attrition that drove Israel from Lebanon? Perhaps Israel could be forced to make still more concessions—or simply withdraw unilaterally from most of the West Bank and Gaza. As U.S. power weakened, the political support given to Arafat by a sympathetic Europe could come into play. So, too, could the backing of Arab Gulf states, suddenly awash in revenues from higher oil prices. Poised between another negotiation and the Al-Aqsa intifada, the Palestinians made their choice.

It may go down as the most disastrous Palestinian choice since Arafat backed Saddam Husayn's invasion of Kuwait. The intifada failed to break Israel and deteriorated into mindless terrorism just when the United States decided to make the "war on terrorism" the lynchpin of its regional policy. If the U.S. effort is sufficiently broad and successful—and is extended into the Middle East, where radicals still reign—it could actually restore a regional climate that is conducive to Arab-Israeli peacemaking. It is sometimes argued that Israeli-Palestinian calm is needed for the United States to confront terrorist-supporting states. Actually, the reverse is true: the refusal of the United States to countenance the existence of terrorist-supporting regimes—as demonstrated in Afghanistan—could contribute immensely to the quest for peace. The determined resolve of George Bush may go further than the personal enthusiasm of Bill Clinton ever went, in priming the Middle East for peace.

Malley, Agha, and Sontag may have set out to revise the conventional wisdom regarding Camp David, but their political goal was actually an extremely conservative one: to preserve and revive the Camp David peacemaking model without changes. But if revisionism is in order, it is not of the historical record of Camp David. It is of the notion that peacemaking can proceed when Israel and the United States are perceived as weak.

Is this realized in Washington? In a much-anticipated speech at the University of Louisville on November 19, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell noted that the "hope created in Madrid has faded." But that hope was not created in Madrid. It was forged on the battlefield of Kuwait, by the defeat of Iraq and Arafat's ostracism for backing the Iraqi side. Madrid would not have been possible absent these favorable developments in the global and regional climate. Powell likewise urged that "we try to capture the spirit of Madrid." But that spirit was not created by the palatial setting of the conference, or by Spanish hospitality, or even by diplomatic agility. It was created by the pervasive sense that the United States and Israel were ascendant and Arab radicalism was on the wane.

Recapturing the "spirit of Madrid" means recreating the circumstances that made Madrid possible. That process may be underway. The victories scored so far by the United States in its war against terror have already begun to foster attitudes conducive to peacemaking. So too has American acceptance of Israel's need to score victories of its own in this war. Israel's strong military action against the Palestinian Authority, backed by the United States, has not set the peace process back. To the contrary: it has driven Arab states, led by Egypt, to assure and assuage Israel, and put pressure on Arafat.

The error of Camp David lay in the belief that the Palestinians would accept Israel's existence at a time of perceived Israeli and American weakness. The talks were built on the premise that negotiating peace would tame radicalism. But the only way to reach peace is to reverse the process: to squelch Arab and Islamic radicalism first. The greatest hope for peace lies in a post-September 11 world in which Palestinian terrorism has been defeated, and radical regimes have been tamed—or toppled.
Saul Singer heads the Project on U.S.-Israel Relations at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and is editorials editor and columnist at The Jerusalem Post. He previously served as a foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Connie Mack and on the staffs of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Banking Committee.
1 Aug. 9, 2001, at Malley was special assistant to the president for Arab-Israeli affairs and director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff from September 1998 to January 2001.
2 July 26, 2001.
3 "End of a Journey," Ari Shavit interview with Shlomo Ben Ami, Ha'aretz (magazine), Sept. 14, 2001.
4 Al-Ayyam (Ramallah), July 28, 2001, at
5 Panel interview of Dennis Ross, "From Oslo to Camp David to Taba: Setting the Record Straight," Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 8, 2001, at
6 Al-Ayyam, July 29, 2001, at
7 Ha'aretz (magazine), Sept. 14, 2001.
8 Ross panel interview, Aug. 8, 2001.
9 Ha'aretz (magazine), Sept. 14, 2001.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid. Despite this, Ben Ami still claims that the Clinton parameters represent the only solution and that these parameters should be forced on the parties by the United States and Europe together.
12 Ha'aretz, Sept. 24, 2001.
13 The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 30, 2001.