[Emphasis added]

Barak recounted how Clinton had “slowly” – to avoid misunderstanding – read Arafat a document, endorsed in advance by Barak, outlining a settlement: a demilitarized Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem on 92 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza, with territorial compensation from pre-1967 Israeli territory; the dismantling of most settlements, custodianship over the Temple Mount; return of refugees to the Palestinian state, and a massive international aid program for them.


Barak was then asked about the charge that Israel offered the Palestinians not a continuous state but a collection of “Bantustans” or “cantons.”

“This is one of the most embarrassing lies to have emerged from Camp David,” says Barak.

I ask myself why is he [Arafat] lying. To put it simply, any proposal that offers 92 percent of the West Bank cannot, almost by definition, break up the territory into noncontiguous cantons. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are separate, but that cannot be helped [in a peace agreement, they would be joined by a bridge].

But in the West Bank, Barak says, the Palestinians were promised a continuous piece of sovereign territory except for a razor-thin Israeli wedge running from Jerusalem through from Maale Adumim to the Jordan River. Here, Palestinian territorial continuity would have been assured by a tunnel or bridge . . .

[Emphasis added]

So what Barak actually said in the interview cited in Footnote 40 was that the “Bantustans” allegation was “one of the most embarrassing lies” Arafat promulgated about Camp David, and that continuity would have been assured by a tunnel or bridge over the “razor-thin Israeli wedge” necessary for Israeli security.

Now read Walt/Mearsheimer’s footnote again and see if it either (a) fairly reflects the primary source it cites, or (b) supports the proposition that “no Israeli government has been willing to offer the Palestinians a viable state of their own.”

2. The “map Israeli negotiators presented to the Palestinians at Camp David:”

What exactly did that map show? Walt/Mearsheimer don’t say, but a reader of their footnote would mistakenly think they cited a primary source showing “no Israeli government has been willing to offer the Palestinians a viable state of their own.”

Dennis Ross’s book published the map “Palestinians now cite . . . as the final offer they turned down at Camp David.” Ross noted it was not an actual map, but rather “reflects” a map “proposed by the Israelis early at Camp David, but it inaccurately depicts Israeli security zones” (emphasis added), misstated the percentage of land offered, erroneously “includes Israeli settlements in the proposed Palestinian state” and was not in fact the final offer.

Next to the extraordinarily misleading Palestinian “map,” Ross published a “Map Reflecting Actual Proposal at Camp David” that “illustrates the parameters of what President Clinton proposed and Arafat rejected: 91% of the West Bank in contiguous territory . . .” [emphasis added].

Ross also published a “Map Reflecting Clinton Ideas” to illustrate the Clinton Parameters offered to both sides in December 2000, formally accepted by Israel, and then rejected by Arafat in a face-to-face meeting with Clinton in the Oval Office: 95% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, with an additional 1 to 3% territorial swap from within Israel, for a total of 96-98%. There is not a Bantustan or canton on that map.

And if Walt/Mearsheimer had consulted the extensive interview with Ben-Ami (the most dovish foreign minister in Israeli history), they would have found this statement:

“[W]hen the ridiculous contention was voiced that what we were proposing to the Palestinians was cantons and that they would not have territorial contiguity, I went to [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak and showed him a map. As I recall, it was still the 8-percent map, a map of 8-92. Mubarak perused it with interest and asked aloud why the Palestinians were claiming they didn’t have contiguity.”

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Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (www.jpundit.typepad.com/jci/).