The Camp David Papers

VOL. 30


No. 2
P. 75
Special Document
The Camp David Papers

The Camp David Papers, a first hand account of the July 2000 summit and the most detailed that exists to date, were written by Akram Hanieh, editor in chief of the Palestinian daily al-Ayyam, close adviser of Palestinian Authority head Yasir Arafat, and a member of the Palestinian team. Published in Arabic within weeks of the negotiations, the papers are important not only for their detail about the content of the negotiating positions, the unfolding of the talks, and the sometimes dramatic exchanges between President Bill Clinton and Arafat, but also for the impressions they convey of the players, Clinton's style, the atmosphere, the "rules of the game, " the American-Israeli negotiating dynamic, and so on.

    Though the descriptions of the proposals presented and summit results are largely in line with what has emerged from other sources, there are certain differences. For example, in contrast to the official U.S.-Israeli version that the parties had reached substantial agreement on all the final status issues except Jerusalem, Hanieh shows that the sides remained far apart, especially on the refugee issue, which the author characterizes as "the greatest failure of the summit." The papers also highlight the Palestinian side's repeated warnings that a summit was premature. Moreover, coming several months before the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada, the papers' warnings on Jerusalem seem prophetic. At one point, for example, the author comments, "The Americans immediately adopted Israel's position on the Haram, seemingly unaware of the fact that they were toying with explosives that could ignite the Middle East and the Islamic world."

    The Camp David Papers originally appeared in al-Ayyam in seven installments between 29 July and 10 August 2000. Translated into English, the text was published in booklet form by al-Ayyam Press in Ramallah in early September. The text that follows was edited and abridged from the much longer version with the approval of the author.