Clinton: Arafat Turned Down Israeli Offer of Har HaBayis

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -

Former president Bill Clinton has revealed that the Palestinians were offered Har HaBayis at the Camp David Summit in 2000, but the agreement fell through over Yasser Araft’s demand for access to the Kosel tunnels, The Times of Israel reported on Thursday.

Israel, he said, agreed to hand control of the site over to the Palestinians, on the condition that the area around the Kosel remain under Israel’s control.

Arafat agreed to that, as well as control over Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Yerushalayim, but insisted on keeping 50 feet of land leading up to an entrance to the Kosel tunnels under Palestinian control.

It was but one of several disputes which blocked agreement on the future of the capital.

In Clinton’s view, Israel was probably justified in its refusal, as “if you got in, you could do mayhem to the ruins of the Temple.”

Clinton defended his overall record of Mideast peacemaking in one of a series of lectures at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

Clinton asked, “Did we fail? You tell me. In the four years after I left office, three times as many Palestinians and Israelis were killed in violent acts than in the eight years I was there. We always need to get caught trying — fewer people will die.”

“Somehow you have to find a way to establish trust among adversaries,” Clinton said of the 2000 summit. “Agreement is not nearly as important as trust.”

Clinton also said that no agreement was reached during his two terms because, although Israel, under Ehud Barak, agreed to give up 96 percent of Yehuda and Shomron, the Palestinians, under Arafat, “never said yes.”