What took place at the working-level talks in 2000?
During late 1999 and the early months of 2000, three way talks (Israel, Palestinians, with the US as facilitator) were held by working-level teams to create the necessary preparations for the Oslo Peace Process “final status” negotiations. The goal was to complete a framework agreement by May, and to conclude the permanent status agreement by September 13, 2000 as agreed in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum.
The negotiations were on-again and off-again throughout the year as various impasses were reached and work-arounds were found. The US kept up relentless pressure to keep the talks going. President Clinton gave it very high priority since the Clinton administration was ending after the November 2000 elections and Clinton very much wanted to leave office with a Middle East peace agreement in hand, and perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize as well. The chronology included these events:
- November 14, 1999: Barak and Arafat met in Tel Aviv
- January 4, 2000: Steering committee agreed on 5% redeployment, part of the second redeployment
- January 30, 2000: Multilateral track of Madrid Framework resumed in Moscow
- March 9, 2000: Barak-Arafat Ramallah agreement on completing the second redeployment; permanent status talks to resume
- March 21, 2000: Palestinian and Israeli negotiators resumed permanent status negotiations at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC
- April 11, 2000: Clinton-Barak met in Washington, DC
- May 15, 2000: Interim Agreements Steering and Monitoring Committee met in Jerusalem after new fighting
- May 22, 2000: Barak cut off talks due to violence in territories
- June 6, 2000: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Barak and Arafat (separately) to push for progress toward framework agreement
- July 5, 2000: President Clinton invited Barak and Arafat to summit at Camp David
Despite many problems and delays, the working level meetings succeeded well enough to lead to the Camp David 2000 Summit convened on July 11, 2000. However, the summit ended in failure on July 25 after Israeli Prime Minister Barak put unprecedented concessions on the table in order to get to an agreement, but Yasser Arafat rejected them and walked out.