Debunking a Middle East myth: Yasser Arafat wasn't solely to blame for the collapse of Camp David II

News & Politics

Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish anti-war and anti-occupation group, has a new blog, The Third Way, which I recommend. The following post, by Mitchell Plitnick, the group's Director of Education and Policy, gets to one of the most prevalent myths of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: that Israel (and U.S. negotiators) were ready to give the Palestinians a wonderful deal at Camp David II, but Arafat walked away from it because of his stubborn intransigence (or personal corruption, depending on who's telling the story). This act, according to the conventional wisdom, justifies all manner of Israeli actions since that time.

Mitchell Plitnick:

Although I'm something of a historian by trade and inclination, in this space I try to keep to current events. But some historical events are of particular importance because they continue to shape today's events. This is especially true of the failed attempt at Camp David in 2000 to cobble together a final peace agreement based on the Oslo process between israel and the Palestinians.

The common view that Arafat was solely responsible for the Camp David failure is false, but it is widely believed and that belief has colored the politics of the conflict to this very day. But some alternate versions, where Arafat is held blameless and painted as an innocent victim of American and Israeli machinations are equally false.

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