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Taba Negotiations (1995, 2001)

TABA NEGOTIATIONS (1995, 2001)

Two separate Israeli-Palestinians negotiations that led to an accord on interim arrangements in 1995, and to bridging differences on the final status issues in 2001.

The Taba resort in Egypt was the site of the Israeli-PLO negotiations that concluded with the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, West BankGaza Strip, also known as the Taba Accords or Oslo II, which was signed in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 1995. The agreement dealt with such issues as civil affairs, economic relations, legal matters, the Palestinian election of an 88-member Palestinian Legislative Council, and security arrangements. The West Bank was divided into areas A, B, and C. In area A, Israel was to redeploy from six cities, whose overall security would be placed in Palestinian hands. In area B, Palestinian towns and villages, Israel would be responsible for security and the Palestinians for public order. In area C, unpopulated areas, Israel would maintain full control. Negotiations for permanent status of the territories were to begin in May 1996, but were delayed for four years.

Five years after the first Taba negotiations, President Bill Clinton convened a summit on 11 through 24 July 2000 at Camp David between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and their teams to negotiate the final status issues, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. More negotiations took place, especially at Bolling Air Force Base in December 2000; these ended on 23 December with Clinton issuing what became known as the Clinton proposals or parameters. These meetings and Clinton's intervention set the stage for the last Israeli-Palestinian meeting of the Oslo peace process, which took place at Taba between 21 and 27 January 2001.

Thanks to the Clinton proposals the two parties at Taba were able to narrow their differences on final status issues, though, since there was no official note taking, there are conflicting accounts about the extent of the progress. Both sides made unprecedented concessions. The Israelis reportedly agreed to withdraw from 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 92 percent of the West Bank, coupled with a 3 percent land swap. The Palestinians accepted Israeli annexation of clusters of settlements but were seeking sovereignty over 98 percent so as to have maximum contiguity in the West Bank. These figures are in dispute, since both sides do not agree on how to calculate withdrawal percentage, especially on whether East Jerusalem, parts of the Jordan Valley, and other parts should count as part of the West Bank. When these parts are counted, the withdrawal figures are smaller than those cited above. On Jerusalem, the Palestinians conceded the Jewish Quarter, including the Western Wall, and Israel agreed to return noncontiguous parts of East Jerusalem. The parties discussed the return of 100,000 to 150,000 Palestinian refugees, out of some 3.7 million, to what is now Israel, but they remained apart on this and other issues.

While the Israeli offer was far-reaching, it was not enough for the Palestinians, because it would not have allowed for a contiguous capital in East Jerusalem, the settlement clusters that Israel wanted to annex would have reduced contiguity in the West Bank, and Palestinian inability to control their borders and air space would have negated Palestinian sovereignty. The two sides needed more time to bridge their differences, but time ran out. The negotiations were interrupted by the departure from office of Clinton on 20 January 2001, and by the defeat of Barak in the Israeli elections of 6 February 2001. But the narrowing of differences at Taba in 2001 had been significant and was hailed by several of the negotiators as representing the closest the two sides had ever come to an agreement.

see also clinton, william jefferson; olso accord (1993).


Bibliography

Enderlin, Charles. Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 19952002. New York: Other Press, 2002.

The Moratinos Document. Available at <http://disarm.igc.org/morotinosdocument1.htm>.

philip mattar

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