Camp David Summit

August 15, 2000

Even before the Camp David Summit ended, Jerusalem was singled out as the issue that caused the breakdown of the Summit. But Faisal Husseini, the senior PLO official in Jerusalem, in an interview with the Negotiations Affairs Department Web site, said the issue of refugees and settlements are just as difficult and as much a stumbling block as Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem for both sides was the best issue to mobilize support for each side," Husseini said. "People from both sides will stand behind their leader's position on Jerusalem, while on the issue of settlements and refugees one may say there are means to resolve these issues."

Husseini dismissed claims by the West and Israel that the Palestinians seek to divide Jerusalem. Husseini also challenged Israel's claim that Jerusalem is a "unified" city and should remain so.

"The city is divided into East and West, further, the division between the services and treatment of East Jerusalem residents and West Jerusalem residents alone challenges Israel's claim to a unified city," Husseini said. "To say a city is unified, it must be unified not only geographically, but in its treatment, representation, and services."

Hussieni, a Jerusalemite, said he wants to see Jerusalem an open city, and would hate to see the city a divided one. Jerusalem, Husseini said, can be the capital of two states, with defined borders but not physical borders. As the capital of the two peoples, freedom of movement and worship for all would be guaranteed.

"With East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and the interest of each side guaranteed through the openness of the city, this will allow each side to say this is our Jerusalem," Husseini said.

Aware of the sensitivity of Jerusalem, and the need for both sides to rally support behind their different positions, Husseini said the Palestinians would need a stronger public endorsement from the Arabs if a second summit would be convened.

"During Camp David the Arabs did not pressure us into accepting something we would not have been able to accept, but they did not support us enough," Husseini said.

In a related development, Democrats kicked off their national convention Monday by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Jerusalem.

Husseini said the Democratic platform is "worrisome" and should not be ignored, but Palestinians should not react to this in fear.

"This is an election period, I believe that when the presidential hopeful takes office, he will be guided by what is in the interest of the American people," Husseini said.

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