Hanan Ashrawi: A Comprehensive Agreement Is Far From Reach

August 15, 2000

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi has served as a frequent spokeswoman for the Palestinian negotiating team. Recently, Ashrawi took up the roll again during the Camp David Summit in July.

In an interview with the Jenin Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Ashrawi gives her thoughts about the Camp David Summit.

The Summit, Ashrawi said, could not have succeeded because it lacked the necessary preparation needed to guarantee, at the least, some minimal success. Ashrawi said the Americans hoped that with pressure, of course on the Palestinian side, the "improvised" Summit would produce an agreement.

"He (Clinton) fell victim to his advisers, or at least some of them, who misled him to believe that there was a great possibility for success... just as they did prior to the Geneva Summit with Syrian President Hafez Assad, they told him success was guaranteed and during the talks he realized things were not as such," Ashrawi said.

For the Palestinians, there was no escape from not going to the Summit. Ashrawi said there was no Palestinian objection to the principle of attending a summit, the only objection was, and it was convened to the Americans, that it would be an unprepared summit and for a summit that was to discuss issues of grave importance not to be properly prepared for was a cause for fear.

"To decline to go would mean being held responsibility for a pre-failure, and being called intransigent," Ashrawi said.

In these negotiations, Ashrawi said, success is based on "intensions not quantity." If some have measured the success of the Summit to be 80 percent, Ashrawi said the remaining 20 percent could be the decisive factor for an agreement or the lack of one.

One thing that happened in Camp David, Ashrawi said was that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak overcame his "red lines." Jerusalem, which the Israelis said was not for discussion, was discussed at Camp David.

What was discussed concerning Jerusalem did not meet the minimal demands of the Palestinians but "the issue of sovereignty was discussed for the first time even if it was in terms of shared sovereignty or limited sovereignty over certain areas, the fact remains that it was discussed," Ashrawi said.

"There was a small break in Israel's red lines but a comprehensive agreement is still far from reach," Ashrawi added.

The Israelis, Ashrawi said, refuse to recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return, but just to allow some to return through family reunification or humanitarian reasons. On settlements, Israel insists on annexing huge settlement blocks and keeping a large number of settlers and settlements in the Palestinian state. All these are factors that stand in the way of achieving an agreement.

Ashrawi said the Israelis came to Camp David with maximalist positions and stepped down, only a bit, from those positions, giving the impression to the American Administration and the media that the Israelis took steps forward, while the Palestinians did not move forward.

"The Palestinians came with minimal positions, which were impossible to move from," Ashrawi said. "Unlike the Israeli who came with the maximal positions and nudge a bit from."

Back to top