The Blog

Myths of the Intifada

Yasser Arafat has propagated three myths about the deals he turned down. Now Dennis Ross has set the record straight.

12:00 AM, Apr 25, 2002 • By FRED BARNES
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In truth, the offer was written down when it was initially presented by Clinton in December. "He went over it at dictation speed," Ross said. After Clinton left the meeting, Ross stayed behind to make certain the Palestinian negotiators had gotten "every single word." They had. A footnote: Ross insists the Palestinian negotiators were ready to accept the offer. They "understood this was the best they were ever going to get. They wanted [Arafat] to accept it." He refused. Why? Ross believes Arafat simply doesn't want to end the conflict with Israel. His career is governed by struggle and leaving his options open. "For him to end the conflict is to end himself," Ross said.

What's important about the history of peace talks in the Middle East is what it tells us about Arafat. The inescapable conclusion is that he will never reach a settlement with Israelis leading to two countries, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace. The Israelis? An honest recounting of the Clinton-led peace talks shows they were willing, though hardly eager, to make substantial concessions to reach a settlement. Had Arafat gone along, Ross believes Barak could have sold the deal to the Israeli people, even as Palestinian terrorism continued and Sharon's election victory loomed. Maybe so, but that was a moment in time that, because of Arafat, has now passed away.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.