Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post of August 17, 2000
AT CAMP DAVID
By Uri Dan
For the first time, a prime minister of
the Jewish State agreed
to divide sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Eliahu Ben-Elissar couldn't believe what he heard during a meeting last month in Paris between the Israeli and French leaders. Prime Minister Barak was informing President Jacques Chirac of the package of concessions he was planning to present at the Camp David Summit.
Ben-Elissar knew Barak had never brought these concessions for the approval of the government and/or the cabinet. Later, Ben-Elissar naturally reported to foreign minister David Levy, describing Barak's concessions as a "general sale" and a "complete striptease." At Camp David, Barak continued his striptease even further, and beyond what he had planned: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and US President Bill Clinton himself, explained to him that he wouldn't achieve even half of what he wanted if he refused to also discuss the issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount.
Barak was not prepared to negotiate on this issue.Despite this, for the first time, a prime minister of the Jewish State agreed to a proposal to divide sovereignty over the Temple Mount: the upper part for Arafat, and the lower part, in which the remains of the Temple are buried, under Israeli sovereignty. Arafat was also asked to agree to Barak's request that a small synagogue be constructed adjacent to, but not on, the Temple Mount.
On the seventh day of the summit, Arafat replied to Clinton in writing with a definite no. He wrote, inter alia, "I shall not accept any reduced sovereignty over Jerusalem, even if we have to wait another 50 or 100 years to liberate it, and raise the Palestinian flag. I am a religious man, and I shall never permit it to be said that I sold the Haram [the Temple Mount]. Even if the State of Palestine were to be established on 100% of the land of Palestine, including Jerusalem, we shall never admit that the Temple lies under the Haram."
With his mathematical logic, Barak was convinced that Arafat would agree to dividing sovereignty over the Temple Mount, over the Holy of Holies of the Jews. The question arises: how did Barak reach the situation in which Arafat dared to deny the existence of the Temple? Despite Barak's official declaration that everything discussed at the summit is now null and void, his representatives are now feverishly discussing his request to construct a token synagogue, and the Palestinians are stubbornly maintaining that only they will be responsible for the security of Jews going to pray at the Western Wall. Barak still refuses to understand, in his arrogant blindness, that he is leading Israel to national destruction.
In short, we shall soon return to the days before the establishment of the State, when Jews requested permission from the mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, to blow the shofar near the Western Wall, were refused, and were arrested by the British when they did so anyway. It therefore came as no surprise that Barak acted like a bull in a china shop when he purged the Foreign Ministry of Levy's people.
Ben-Elissar heard about his dismissal on the radio - a few days before he died. "Up till this moment, I have not received an official letter," Ben-Elissar revealed to numerous friends about 24 hours before his dismissal. "I knew I was about to end my job, but the way in which it was done was very hard and offensive."
© Jerusalem Post 2000
Uri Dan is the author of The Mossad: Secrets of the Israel Secret Service and other books on the Middle East