Statement by Prime Minister Barak
at Press Conference upon the Conclusion of the Camp David Summit
July 25, 2000
(translated from Hebrew)
The Government of Israel, and I as Prime Minister, acted in the
course of the Camp David Summit out of moral and personal commitment,
and supreme national obligation to do everything possible to bring
about an end to the conflict - but not any any price - while at the
same time, strengthening the State of Israel, and Jerusalem its
capital. In the course of the negotiations, we touched the most
sensitive nerves, ours and the Palestinians, but regretfully - with
We were not prepared to relinquish three things: the security of
Israel, those things that are holy to Israel, and the unity of the
our People. If we will be faced with the alternative between
compromising one of these and a confrontation, the choice is clear to
We've known how to face such situations in the past, and we will in
the future. Yet, if we will find ourselves in a confrontation, we
will be able to look straight into the eyes of our children and to
say that we have done everything to prevent it. In the face of the
dangers and risks before us, we must put aside all our differences
and unite, as we have known to do so many times in the past.
All my life I fought for Israeli security, and I reiterate: I will
not agree to relinquish the vital interests of Israeli security; I
will not agree to give up the strengthening of Israel and the
bolstering of greater Jerusalem, with a solid Jewish majority, for
Israel was prepared to pay a painful price to bring about an end to
the conflict, but not any price. We sought a stable balance, and
peace for generations to come, not headlines in tomorrow's paper. The
summit was a major - and for now the latest - milestone in the
intensive and exhaustive negotiating process to achieve a framework
agreement for the permanent status accord with the Palestinians,
which my government has been striving to achieve.
We can today look in the mirror and say: In the past year, we have
exhausted every possibility to bring an end to the 100 year-old
conflict between us and the Palestinians, but regrettably the
conditions were not yet ripe.
I understand the disappointment of many in Israel, who believe in
co-existence and extending a hand in peace to our Palestinian
neighbors. I even join them in their disappointment. However, we will
not cease our effort to achieve peace and will continue to work to
bring it about - yet not at any price.
Arafat was afraid to make the historic decisions necessary at this
time in order to bring about an end to the conflict. Arafat's
positions on Jerusalem are those which prevented the achievement of
We in the delegation worked day and night in order to reach an
agreement. But I, as Prime Minister, bear overall responsibility for
the Israeli positions presented in the course of the summit, just as
I would have stood behind any overall agreement, difficult as it may
have been, had it been achieved.
The Israeli positions were accorded full legitimacy by the US
government, and there is no dispute that Israel was prepared to go
all the way to achieve that peace.
Ideas, views and even positions which were raised in the course of
the summit are invalid as opening positions in the resumption of
negotiations, when they resume. They are null and void.
We must not lose hope. The vision of peace is not dead, but it
suffered a heavy blow because of the Palestinian stubbornness. The
Palestinians must deal with their extremist elements, and both sides
must work together to prevent a deterioration into violence.
I thank the President of the United States, the Secretary of State,
the Peace Staff - both of the State Department and of the National
Security Council, for their dedicated work during the course of the
Summit, during the last months, and throughout the last year - I
would even say throughout the decade.
We are at the end of an important stage in the peace process and the
beginning of a new stage which contains considerable uncertainty.
Strong and united, firmly convinced in the justice of our position,
we will enter the period before us with confidence. We will insist on
our security and continue to act with determination to bring peace to
Israel and a secure future for all our families and children.
Statement, questions and answers in English:
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: This morning we have ended the summit at Camp
David without an agreement. In the next few weeks an American senior
official will come to the Middle East to probe the ground whether
it's ripe for a continuation of the negotiation.
We have done our best, out of a moral and personal and government
responsibility, to do whatever we can to put an end to a conflict of
100 years, not at any cost, and in a way, of course, that will
strengthen Israel. But unfortunately, in spite of being ready to
touch the most sensitive nerves, we have ended with no results.
We will emphasize, under whatever circumstances, the security of
Israel, the sacred values and interests of Israel, and the unity of
our people. And if we have to face the challenge and fight for one of
those, we will be ready to fight to the end. We were ready to end the
conflict; we looked for an equilibrium point that will provide a
peace for generations. But unfortunately, Arafat somehow hesitated to
take the historic decisions that were needed in order to put an end
And of course, I believe that we should not lose hope. We should
prepare for every possibility. The vision of peace suffered a major
blow, but I believe that with good faith, goodwill on all sides, it
We'll have to take care of extremism and terrorism and to make sure
that the next few weeks will not deteriorate the whole region into a
new round of violence.
I have to express our deep gratitude and thanks to the President of
the United States, President Clinton, to Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, to her peace team, to the team of the National Security
Council for the effort they have made during this summit, during the
last month, during the last year since I came to power, and, in fact,
all along this decade to bring peace to the troubled region of the
Middle East on exactly the other side of the globe.
We are at the end of a stage, opening a new era with a lot of
uncertainties. But both strong and united and aware of our inner
truth, we'll step forward into this new era. We'll insist on our
security, and we will do whatever could be done to bring peace for
Israel and the Middle East and a better future for all our children.
Q: Mr. Prime Minister, President Clinton praised you for taking bold
steps. At the same time, you have said that Chairman Arafat was not
ready for the historic decision. Could you enlighten us on what were
those bold steps that you were ready to make, particularly in
PM BARAK: We have considered, and some ideas were raised, that in
order to make Jerusalem wider and stronger than at any time, in any
previous time in the history of the city, we should consider annexing
to Jerusalem cities within the West Bank beyond the '67 border, like
Maale Adumin and Givat Ze'ev and Gush Etzion, and in exchange for
this to give to the Palestinians the sovereignty over certain
villages or small cities that had been annexed to Jerusalem just
after '67. These ideas were raised, they were contemplated. But as
the whole summit was run under the rules of "Nothing is agreed until
everything is agreed," even those ideas are now null and void.
Q: Seeing, Mr. Prime Minister, you had said that it's now repeated
that all of the ideas and issues raised during these meetings are
"null and void." So at this point, when there is a lot less hope to
reach an agreement, weren't you possibly better off two and a half
weeks ago, before you started with this summit, now that you have
said this is the end of a chapter in the peace process? So does that
mean that the September 13th deadline will assume significance at
this point? And one last point finally, the members of the European
Union have said that they would recommend a Palestinian state in
September. Do you have any message for those leaders?
PM BARAK: About the European Union, I believe that when they will
learn the details, they will realize that the right way is to not
encourage any kind of unilateral step, since it will not contribute
to making the future of the Middle East better or the conflict
reduced or level of friction reduced.
In regard to the situation now, compared to two and a half weeks ago,
we are not operating in a vacuum. What we had faced, if we sat idle,
was to see, first of all, the third further deployment, then the
negotiations of a comprehensive agreement with a very, very high
probability of ending in a total breakdown of the negotiations and
without even being able to know whether there is a meeting point, or
there isn't, on the very core issues. So I believe that, on any kind
of level, we are in much better shape right now.
It's painful to realize that the other side is not ripe for peace,
but it's always better to know the realities than to delude
ourselves. And I still hope that when they will consider what are the
real alternatives what await all of us down the stream, they will
have an opportunity to make up their minds once again.
The major, toughest kind of debate, or inability to bridge the gaps
were about issues that have to do with Jerusalem. We believe that the
ideas raised by the president was far-reaching and justified a kind
of positive response from Arafat. They didn't. And I should admit
that even on other issues -- especially the refugees -- there are
still wide gaps of a kind of conceptual nature, not just technical
So I believe that we made a long way, and the public debate within
the Israeli public and within the Palestinian delegation is very
important for the future contact. But unfortunately, we have to
admit reality: we were unable as of now, basically as a result of
unripeness on the Palestinian side, to achieve a deal, or strike a
Q: Mr. Prime Minister, one year ago you came into office with high
hopes and a near single-minded goal to bring peace with Syria and the
Palestinians. You have failed in both of those, and your government
has collapsed. Is it perhaps time for you to step aside --
(inaudible) -- elections? That's the first question.
PM BARAK: It's a heavy one. I have to contemplate it.
Q: And second, about the third redeployment and outstanding interim
PM BARAK: A year ago, I stood here -- in Washington, in fact -- and
told that we -- our government, my government -- will do whatever it
takes, and we'll leave no stone unturned on the way to check whether
it's possible to make a peace with our neighbors without violating
our vital interest. But I emphasized that it takes two to tango. We
cannot impose it upon them. We are ready, and if a partner will be
there, there will be peace.
Now we did exactly this. We checked it. It's very important for us,
first of all, out of our responsibility, to make peace if it's
possible, but on the other end, at the same time, in order to be able
to face the challenges of no peace with a united Israeli people that
knows that its government made whatever it could to put an end to the
conflict -- and if there is no end to the conflict, somehow the
responsibility is upon the other side. This is our basic position --
and of course, the fact that such an attempt to touch for the first
time in the whole history of the conflict the very core issues --
refugees, Jerusalem -- tried to solve that.
When we find that it's still unripe -- of course I say with a certain
kind of sorrow that it will influence, of course, the third further
redeployment or the comprehensive agreement negotiations, since we
cannot delude ourselves that we have not seen what we have seen in
the last 12 days. And there is a need to continue from this point
forward, not from a different kind of approach or track.
Q Do you personally need fresh mandates?
PRIME MIN. BARAK: No, I don't think so. A mandate is still there. I'm
doing exactly what I have told the Israeli people I will.
I was not deterred by the obstacles...
(end of available audio)