Ehud Barak once said on TV that if he had been born a Palestinian he would likely have been a terrorist. That degree of candor should lead him to be honest about what happened in the peace talks in which he, himself, was involved – yet he claims that the reason we don’t have peace is Netanyahu’s intransigence.
Let’s recall what Barak brought home from his talks at Camp David with Yasser Arafat in the year 2000: Nothing! The most we can say about the results of his meetings, mediated by Clinton, is that both sides said they offered more than ever before and both sides accused the other of refusing to budge. Interestingly, the Palestinian Arabs were mostly pleased that Arafat refused to sign an agreement with Barak. In contrast, Israelis generally felt that Barak was willing to concede too much, and some perhaps breathed a sigh of relief when the charade was over. (I say “charade” because I can’t rid myself of the picture of Barak holding the door open for Arafat even though the latter obviously did not want it and insisted Barak go first. Men hold doors open for women. So did Arafat interpret as patronizing what Barak likely thought was simply a friendly gesture? What does that say about Barak’s diplomatic aptitude?)
Also interesting about that meeting is the map that Barak apparently expected Arafat to accept: it included annexation of settlement blocks by Israel in return for Israel giving up some small amount of land in exchange for it and leaving the anticipated Palestinian state with large pieces of non-contiguous regions. While there is no physical evidence of this proposed map, the description was provided by some who were at the talks. I am trying hard to find a difference between Barak’s map and what the Likud is proposing today (and even Bennett, minus the independent sovereign state bit).
Barak hypocritically claims that Netanyahu is not actively seeking a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs and never was, as if he could have done better had he been given the chance. But wait! He was given the chance. An amazing chance. He stood there smiling on the Camp David podium with Clinton and Arafat as the three declared that they were friends, a declaration that had as much meaning as the Nobel Peace Prize given to Peres, Rabin and Arafat 6 years earlier.
Reading his interview with Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz a few weeks ago, I can see in my mind’s eye how Barak expands his chest to full capacity and pulls himself up to a height he can never physically attain as he declares how he, Netanyahu’s then most trusted colleague, was unable to make a dent in Netanyahu’s stubborn approach to the Palestinian Arabs when he served as defense minister to Bibi from 2009-2013. Sorry, Mr Barak, but when you are party to a discussion you are also party to its failure or success. Any attempt to point a finger and say that it was Netanyahu’s fault things did not move forward with the Palestinian Arabs is self-serving, dishonest and shows blatant disregard for the reality of the situation.
The Palestinian Arabs were not prepared to accept what Barak offered in 2000; what makes him think they will accept it now? If our politicians on the left of center think they have anything new to bring to the negotiating table let them give us some hint of that rather than just blaming Netanyahu for stalling any supposed peace talks. I would like to know what they think they have up their sleeves that will not entail our country’s demise.