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Newly declassified documents from 2000 show how Jerusalem was to be divided under then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Documents show Barak's government considered making significant concessions if the ‘other side also willing to do so’

US President Bill Clinton leads Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (R) and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat (L) to the Laurel cabin on the grounds of Camp David during peace talks, July 11, 2000 (Photo: Reuters)

The Israel State Archives published Israel’s official response to the Clinton peace plan on Sunday, a plan which was at the heart of the 2000 Camp David peace summit.

The documents revealed that the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak was willing to relinquish part of the Old City and the Temple Mount to Palestinians in return for receiving 8% of the Judean and Samarian territories, known as the West Bank.

The response to the proposal presented by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton was part of the archive file of Noah Kinnerti, an advisor to the Israeli defense minister regarding settlement affairs. Kinnerti was also the negotiating director for Israel’s delegation to the peace summit.

The Clinton proposal suggested that Palestinians receive the Arab parts of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, while Israel would retain control over the Jewish parts of the city.

The Jewish state asserted that the Armenians were not Arab in their response and, therefore, the Armenian Quarter was to remain in Israel’s control. The Israeli response also proposed that “everything from Jaffa Gate straight to the left will be Palestinian, and everything to the right (the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter) will be Israeli.”

Regarding the Temple Mount, Israel was only willing to relinquish control over the area of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. However, they demanded control of the Western Wall, including its tunnel, the Siloam Tunnel, the City of David and the Mount of Olives.

Israel also demanded an international military force be deployed to the Jordan Valley and the Gaza-Egypt border, but not along the Israel-Palestine border – a demand that was subsequently rejected by the Americans.

Gilad Sher, who was the chief of Barak’s office, told Ynet news that Israel was willing to accept Clinton’s proposals at the time in order to continue negotiations.

“The Israeli government unanimously accepted President Clinton's ideas as a basis for continuing negotiations towards a framework agreement for a permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,” Sher said. “Not as an agreement, not as a framework itself, but ideas that, as President Clinton himself called them, are, to the best of his judgment, the principles for continuing negotiations towards a gradual end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a framework agreement for a permanent settlement.”

“The important part of the Israeli government's decision is that it is willing to negotiate on the basis of Clinton's ideas as a basis, provided that the other side is also willing to do so,” Sher added.

As history demonstrated, the other side was not willing.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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