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Ehud Barak's Vanishing Red Lines

The negotiating positions of Prime Minister Ehud Barak vis-a-vis the Palestinians underwent rapid changes over the course of several months in 2000. Whereas in the early spring of that year the Israeli position was for giving the Palestinians 60% of the disputed territories, that number rapidly grew to 80% in May, 2000 (see map) and to 90%+ before the beginning of the Camp David Talks in July (see map).

In addition to the lack of firmness of Mr. Barak's positions, he revealed a startling willingness to violate Israel's longstanding red lines. These red lines have been upheld by every government from the Left and Right, include Barak's, over the space of decades. Barak violated virtually every major red line in the matter of a few weeks.

Mr. Barak specifically mentioned 4 red lines that he would not cross when he left for Camp David. They were: No division of Jerusalem, no return to the 1949 borders, no return of Arab refugees, and no foreign army west of the Jordan River. He violated them all at the summit, and a few more as well. A list of his violations before and during Camp David follows:

Barak's personal willingness to violate positions that the overwhelming majority of Israelis find sacred could have caused a tremendous rift in Israeli society and would have been a disaster for the security and well-being of the Jewish State. Further, such a lack of steadfastness was surely noticed by the Palestinians, who will realize that they only need to stand fast their own maximalist positions to achieve almost any gain without the need to compromise themselves.

This article was based in part on "Arafat Has Us on the Run" by David Weinberg (The Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2000).

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