President Bill Clinton Proposals for a Final Settlement
Washington, 23 December 2000
U.S. President Bill Clinton presented his proposals at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian representatives at the White House on December 23, 2000. The proposals were made orally, with members of each delegation taking notes. No official version was released. The following notes have been privately obtained by the Journal for Palestine Studies (vol. xxx, n° 3,Spring 2001) and contain direct quotes from the U.S. President rather than summaries as is the case of other versions published by newspapers at the time. All versions agree in substance.
94-96 % of the West Bank will be returned to the Palestinians to be compensated with “equivalent of 1-3 % of territories annexed” with territories within Israel proper “permanent territorial safe passage.” “The two sides should also consider a swap of leased land.”
“The following criteria should govern map
• 80 % of settlers within settlement blocks
• minimizing areas annexed to Israel
• minimizing Palestinian annexed to Israel”
Security shall be provided by “international presence that can only be withdrawn by mutual consent.” “My best judgement is that the Israeli withdrawal should be completed over 36 months and that the international force be gradually introduced over same period. A small Israeli presence may remain in 6 locations under the authority of the international force for another 36 months.” This presence can be reduced if regional developments reduce threat to Israel.
• 3 Israeli EW [Early Warning] facilities in the West Bank with a Palestinian liaison presence. These facilities may be subject to renewal after 10 years, and any change in their status should be mutually agreed.
• Emergency deployment: The sides should develop map of locations and routes. A possible definition of emergency: “imminent and demonstrable threat to Israel's national security of a military nature that requires the declaration of a state of national emergency.” The international force “will of course need to be notified of any such development.”
• Airspace: airspace “will be sovereign to Palestine.” “The sides should work out special arrangements for Israeli training and operational needs.”
• Militarization: “I understand that the Israeli position is that the Palestinian state should be demilitarized, and that the Palestinians talk of a state with limited arms. I suggest a ‘non militarized State’ and an international force for border security and deterrence.
• General: “The general principle is that Arab areas are Palestinian and that Jewish areas are Israeli. This would apply to the Old City as well. I urge the two sides to work on maps to create maximum contiguity on both sides.”
• Haram/ Temple Mount: “I believe that the gaps are not related to practical administration but to symbolic issues of sovereignty and to the need to find way to accord respect to the religious beliefs of both sides.” I know that you have been working on a number of formulae, I add two: granting Palestinian effective control over the Haram while respecting [wishes?] of the Jewish people. Either formula will require international monitoring to provide mutual confidence:
A. “Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism of which it is a part. There will be a firm commitment not to excavate beneath the Haram or behind the Wall.
B. “Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, and shared functional sovereignty over the issue of excavation under the Haram and behind the Wall, such that mutual consent would be required for any such activities.”
• General: “I believe that differences are more related to formulations and less to what will happen on a practical level. I believe that Israel is prepared to acknowledge the moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people as a result of the 1948 war and the need to assist the international community in resolving the refugee issue.”
An international institution should be established to implement all aspects that flow from an agreement: compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation. The U.S. is prepared to lead an international effort to help the refugees.
• Right of Return: “The fundamental gap is on how to handle the concept of the right of return. I know the history of the issue and how difficult it will be for the Palestinian leadership to be seen to be abandoning this principle. The Israeli side could not accept any reference to the right of return that would imply a right to emigrate to Israel in defiance of Israeli sovereign policies or admission that would threaten the Jewish character of the State. Any solution must address this gap between the two sides.
I believe that the solution would have to be consistent with the two-state principle accepted by the Palestinian side; the State of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Israeli people. Under the twostate solution, the guiding principle is that the Palestinian state will be the focal point for Palestinians who choose to return, without ruling out that Israel will accept some of the refugees. I believe that we need to adopt formulations on the right of return that make clear that is no specific right to return to Israel itself, but that does not negate the aspiration of the Palestinian people to return to the area.
In light of the above I propose these alternatives: (a) “both sides recognize the right of return to historic Palestine” or (b) “to their homeland.” The agreement will define the implementation of this general right in a way that is consistent with the two-state solution. It would list five possible homes for the refugees:
1. The State of Palestine
2. The areas of Israel transferred to Palestinian sovereignty
3. Rehabilitation in host countries
4. Resettlement in 3rd countries
5. Admission to Israel
“In listing these options it will be made clear that return to Gaza, the West Bank and swapped areas would be a right for all Palestinian refugees. Rehabilitation, resettlement and absorption into Israel will depend on the policies of third parties. Israel could include in the agreement that it intends to establish a policy so that some refugees will be absorbed consistent with Israel's sovereign decision. I believe that priority should be given to the refugee population of Lebanon. Finally, it should be agreed that this agreement implements UNGA resolution 194.
End of Conflict
I propose that the agreement clearly mark the end of conflict and that its implementation put an end to all claims. This [end of conflict] could be implemented (a) through the UNSC that would note that UNSCR 242 and 338 have been implemented, and (b) through the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
I believe that this is the outline of a fair and lasting agreement. It gives the Palestinian people the ability to determine their own future on their own land, a sovereign and viable state accepted and recognized by the international community, al-Quds as its capital, sovereignty over the Haram and a new life for the refugees.
It gives the people of Israel a genuine end to the conflict, real security, the preservation of sacred religious ties, the incorporation of 80 % of the settlers into Israel, and the largest Jewish Jerusalem in history recognized by all as its capital.
I hope the discussions will be based on these ideas. If not, then I have taken things as far as I can. If they are not accepted, they are off the table, and they go with me when I leave office.