The Clinton Parameters
December 23rd, 2000
(Note: After the failure of the Camp David Summit in July, 2000 to achieve a peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian delegations led, respectively, by Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, negotiations continued between the two sides and gaps between the parties on various issues were narrowed, but there was no comprehensive agreement.
In a last ditch effort, U.S. President Bill Clinton offered the following "Parameters" on December 23 to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at a meeting in the White House. President Clinton's "Parameters" were not the terms of a final deal, but guidelines for final accelerated negotiations he hoped could be concluded in the coming weeks. He said his terms would not be binding on his successor when he would leave office in January 2001.
Arafat, after a delay, accepted the Clinton parameters, but with questions and reservations. Barak accepted the parameters, but Israel's position was also equivocal. The parameters laid the foundation for the final negotiations that took place in January 2001 at Taba before the election of Ariel Sharon in February 2001 that effectively ended the peace process. [See "Taba Agreement" below. The text of the Clinton Parameters follows. PCWilcox, 7/7/03])
Based on what I heard, I believe that the solution should be in the mid-90%'s, between 94-96% of the West Bank territory of the Palestinian State.
The land annexed by Israel should be compensated by a land swap of 1-3% in addition to territorial arrangement such as a permanent safe passage.
The parties should also consider the swap of leased land to meet their respective needs. Thee are creative ways for doing this that should address Palestinian and Israeli needs and concerns.
The Parties should develop a map consistent with the following criteria:
The key to security lies in an international presence that can only be withdrawn by mutual consent. This presence will also monitor the implementation of the agreement between both sides.
My best judgment is that the Israeli withdrawal should be carried out over 36 months while international force is gradually introduced in the area. At the end of this period, a small Israeli presence would remain in fixed locations in the Jordan Valley under the authority of the international force for another 36 months. This period could be reduced in the event of favorable regional developments that diminish the threats to Israel.
On early warning situations, Israel should maintain three
facilities in the West Bank with a Palestinian liaison presence. The stations
will be subject to review after 10 years with any changes in status to be
Regarding emergency developments, I understand that you still have to develop a map of relevant areas and routes. But in defining what is an emergency, I propose the following definition:
Imminent and demonstrable threat to Israel's national security of a military nature requires the activation of a national state of emergency.
Of course, the international forces will need to be notified of any such determination.
On airspace, I suggest that the state of Palestine will have sovereignty over its airspace but that the two sides should work out special arrangements for Israeli training and operational needs.
I understand that the Israeli position is that Palestine
should be defined as a "demilitarized state" while the Palestinian side proposes
"a state with limited arms." As a compromise, I suggest calling it a
This will be consistent with the fact that in addition to a strong Palestinian security force, Palestine will have an international force for border security and deterrence purposes.
Jerusalem and Refugees
I have a sense that the remaining gaps have more to do with formulations than practical realities.
The general principle is that Arab areas are Palestinian and Jewish ones are Israeli. This would apply to the Old City as well. I urge the two sides to work on maps to create maximum contiguity for both sides.
Regarding the Haram/Temple Mount, I believe that the gaps are not related to practical administration but to the symbolic issues of sovereignty and to finding a way to accord respect to the religious beliefs of both sides.
I know you have been discussing a number of formulations, and you can agree on any of these. I add to these two additional formulations guaranteeing Palestinian effective control over Haram while respecting the conviction of the Jewish people. Regarding either one of these two formulations will be international monitoring to provide mutual confidence.
1.Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over [the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism of which it is a part][the Western Wall and the Holy of Holies of which it is a part].
There will be a firm commitment by both not to excavate beneath the Haram or behind the Wall.
2.Palestinian shared sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and shared functional sovereignty over the issue of excavation under the Haram and behind the Wall as mutual consent would be requested before any excavation can take place.
I sense that the differences are more relating to formulations and less to what will happen on a practical level.
I believe that Israel is prepared to acknowledge the moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people as a result of the 1948 war and the need to assist the international community in addressing the problem.
An international commission should be established to implement all the aspects that flow from your agreement: compensation, resettlement, rehabilitation, etc.
The U.S. is prepared to lead an international effort to help the refugees.
The fundamental gap is on how to handle the concept of the right of return. I know the history of the issue and how hard it will be for the Palestinian leadership to appear to be abandoning this principle.
The Israeli side could simply not accept any reference to right of return that would imply a right to immigrate to Israel in defiance of Israel's sovereign policies on admission or that would threaten the Jewish character of the state.
Any solution must address both needs.
The solution will have to be consistent with the two-state approach that both sides have accepted as the to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Under the two-state solution, the guiding principle should
be that the Palestinian state will be the focal point for Palestinians who
choose to return to the area without ruling out that Israel will accept some of
I believe that we need to adopt a formulation on the right of return to Israel itself but that does not negate the aspiration of the Palestinian people to return to the area.
In light of the above, I propose two alternatives:
1.Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Historic Palestine. Or,
2.Both sides recognize the right of the Palestinian refuges to return to their homeland.
The agreement will define the implementation of this general right in a way that is consistent with the two-state solution. It would list five possible final homes for the refugees:
- The state of Palestine
- Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap
- Rehabilitation in a host country
- Resettlement in a third country
- Admission to Israel
In listing these options, the agreement will make clear that the return to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the areas acquired in the land swap would be a right to all Palestinian refugees.
While rehabilitation in host countries, resettlement in third world countries and absorption into Israel will depend upon the policies of those countries.
Israel could indicate in the agreement that it intends to establish a policy so that some of the refugees would be absorbed into Israel consistent with Israel's sovereign decision.
I believe that priority should be given to the refugee population in Lebanon.
The parties would agree that this implements Resolution 194.
I propose that the agreement clearly mark the end of the conflict and its implementation put an end to all its claims. This could be implemented through a UN Security Council Resolution that notes that Resolutions 242 and 338 have been implemented through the release of Palestinian prisoners.
I believe that this is an outline of a fair and lasting agreement.
It gives the Palestinian people the ability to determine the future on their own land, a sovereign and viable state recognized by the international community, Al-Qods as its capital, sovereignty over the Haram, and new lives for the refugees.
It gives the people of Israel a genuine end to the conflict, real security, the preservation of sacred religious ties, the incorporation of 80% of the settlers into Israel, and the largest Jewish Jerusalem in history recognized by all as its capital.
This is the best I can do. Brief your leaders and tell me if they are prepared to come for discussions based on these ideas. If so, I would meet the next week separately. If not, I have taken this as far as I can.
These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are not
just off the table, they also go with me when I leave the office.