During the ’blood-red- moon of July 16th, 2000, President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat were participating in the Middle East Summit at Camp David from July 11-25.

According to Mitchell Bard, the executive director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), Prime Minister Barak offered to withdraw from 97 % of the West Bank and 100 % of the Gaza Strip. In addition, he agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. In exchange for the 5 % annexation of the West Bank, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly one third.

Bard said Barak also made previously unthinkable concessions on Jerusalem, agreeing that Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new Palestinian state.

The Barak proposal also addressed the refugee issue, guaranteeing them the right of return to the Palestinian state and reparations from an international fund that would be collected to compensate them. Barak began referring to the ‘Holy of Holies’ (Aryeh Dayan, Haaretz).

In early September 2000, about two months after Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat returned empty-handed from the failed summit at Camp David, a series of clandestine meetings was held in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians. Most of them took place in an isolated private home in the western Jerusalem suburb of Ein Karem and were meant to find a formula that would resolve the harsh dispute that broke out at the summit around the future of the Temple Mount.

The talks were held at the home of Dr. Moshe Amirav, the man who was appointed the day after the Camp David debacle as the prime minister’s adviser on the issue of a permanent settlement in Jerusalem.

Seated alongside Amirav during some of the conversations was Danny Yatom, who headed the political-security staff at the Prime Minister’s office at the time. In these conversations, the late Faisal Husseini, who headed the Palestinian negotiating team on Jerusalem, represented the Palestinians.

The dispute over the Temple Mount had nothing to do with practical arrangements that would be implemented there. The crux of the dispute centred on sovereignty, and nothing else. While Arafat demanded that the entire Temple Mount – Haram al-Sharif in Arab terminology – would be under full and exclusive sovereignty of the Palestinians, Barak demanded that partial sovereignty over the site – which, to the disbelief of several of his colleagues in the Israeli delegation, he suddenly began to call ‘The Holy of Holies’ – would remain in Israel’s possession.

Amirav and Husseini, whose Ein Karem conversations took place with Barak and Arafat’s knowledge, in whose hands the Temple Mount would be entrusted. This Commonwealth of Nations would have 11 member states: the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian state that would be established as part of the peace treaty and Israel.

Ongoing administration of the Temple Mount, stated the document, would remain in the Waqf’s domain, and Yasser Arafat ‘could be the guardian of the sites holy to Islam’.

The Temple Mount, claims Amirav, is what prevented the sides from reaching agreement.

"The Camp David summit," explained Amirav in conversation with Haaretz, "became a ‘Jerusalem summit’. Perhaps even a ‘Temple Mount summit’. The three leaders who took part – Barak, Arafat and their host, U.S. President Bill Clinton – devoted, claims Amirav, ‘hundreds of hours’ to discussions on Jerusalem in general and the Temple Mount in particular. "It may be hard to believe," says Amirav, "but Clinton himself spent hours poring over maps with Barak and Arafat."

It was Arafat’s and Barak’s stubborn insistence on sovereignty that prevented an agreement. Arafat insisted on full and exclusive Palestinian sovereignty ‘both because he wanted to go down in history as having liberated the Temple Mount and because he wanted the Temple Mount to provide a pan-Muslim counterweight to the little State of Palestine."

But Barak wanted to go down in Jewish history as the man who gave Israel sovereignty, if only partial, over the Temple Mount.

Moshe Amirav calls this a ‘groundless assertion’. He says in exchange for conceding the Temple Mount, Israel could have received the recognition of the entire world – including the Arab and Muslim world – both of its sovereign existence and Jerusalem as its capital. Sooner or later, he says, Israel will be forced to ‘get rid of the Temple Mount’. He proposes that Israel ‘give the Temple Mount as a gift, not to Arafat, but to the leaders of the countries of Islam’. If it does so, he believes Israel will receive the recognition of the entire Muslim world.


Bad Omen: Olmert Offers Palestinians Temple Mount Sovereignty

Aaron Klein of WorldNet Daily reported that on Tuesday, Aug.28, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, presented the Palestinian Authority with a formal plan in which the Jewish state would forfeit the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – to Muslim control, according to top Palestinian sources.

WND reported the sources said Olmert’s plan calls for the entire Temple Mount plaza to fall under Arab sovereignty; Jerusalem’s Old City holy sites near the Mount to be governed by a Jewish, Christian and Muslim task force; and the Western Wall plaza below the Mount to be controlled by Israel.

According to Palestinian negotiators who took part in the Olmert-Abbas meeting, Olmert also presented Abbas with a plan for Israel to evacuate most of the West Bank and cede eastern sections of Jerusalem. The plan called for Israel to retain three main settlement blocks; in exchange, Israel would offer the Palestinian Israeli-Arab towns in the north of the country, the Palestinian negotiators told WND.