U.S. Accused of pro-Israel Bias at 2000 Camp David

Nathan Guttman
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Nathan Guttman

WASHINGTON - A member of the U.S. peace team during the 2000 Camp David talks has accused the United States of adopting a distinct pro-Israeli policy that, together with other mistakes, led to the failure of the negotiations between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat.

"Far too often, we functioned in this process, for want of a better word, as Israel's lawyer," said Aaron Miller at a seminar in the U.S. capital on Monday. "I say this without any effort to diminish the importance, again, of gaining Israeli trust. [Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger gained it. [President Jimmy] Carter gained it, and [Secretary of State James] Baker gained it. And they produced agreements. They were also fairer and tougher".

Miller, who serves today as president of the Seeds of Peace organization, charged that the United States should not have accepted Barak's proposals as "generous," but should have questioned whether they were fair and could be worked with in order to achieve a peace deal.

Dennis Ross, who coordinated the peace talks at the time, rejected Miller's charges. "I can tell you, Barak said to me on more than one occasion that I was Arafat's lawyer. Why? Because I was always in there making the case for what the Palestinians needed," he said.

Participating in the seminar, organized by the Middle East Institute, were all four of the top U.S. officials who played a part in the peace process during the Clinton administration - Ross, Miller, Martin Indyk and Rob Malley. The four presented opposing views regarding the reasons for the failure of the talks, but all four agreed that now was the time for increased U.S. involvement in the process with the objective of strengthening the regime of PAChairman Mahmoud Abbas.

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