After more than a year, the Palestinian Authority yesterday decided to present its official version of the negotiations at Camp David and explain why the Palestinians couldn't accept Israel's offers.
At a news conference in Ramallah, Abu Ala (Ahmed Qureia), a member of the Palestinian negotiating team and speaker of the Palestinian Parliament described the offer made to Chairman Yasser Arafat as leaving the Palestinians with a state that was not viable.
Abu Ala said had the Palestinians accepted the Israeli offer, the Palestinian state would have had four separate cantons, divided by highways controlled by Israel (running the length and breadth of their state). In addition, Abu Ala says Israel would have controlled the international crossings at Rafah in the Gaza Strip and the Allenby Bridge in the West Bank.
The data presented to Israeli and foreign reporters yesterday asserted that Israel asked to annex nine percent of the territory of the West Bank and hold an additional 10 percent for a long period of time.
According to the Palestinians, Israel had agreed to only one percent in territory exchanged. The Palestinian negotiating team also stressed that the highway system which Israel demanded, connecting four blocks of settlements, and the Jordan Valley, to Israel, created no territorial contiguity for the Palestinian state, rendering its viability questionable.
The Palestinian negotiators added that there is no way to consider the Israeli offer either fair or generous. Abu Ala commended former Prime Minister Ehud Barak for "being brave" in opening for discussion a number of difficult issues such as Jerusalem and the refugee question, but he blamed him for not being daring enough to complete the job he started.
"He failed to fulfill the interim agreement, and did not complete the transfer of three villages around Jerusalem to Area A from Area B, as was agreed," Abu Ala said.
Abu Ala blamed Barak for passing immediately to the final status agreement stages of the negotiations, and for not allowing for the continued development of negotiations - skipping instead to the Camp David summit. Abu Ala said the summit was a major leap before sufficient progress had been made in bridging existing differences between the two sides.
Abu Ala blamed Barak for jumping from the summit at Camp David to a violent confrontation.