To: Website Browsers, Fans, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Barak/Malley Debate, Part II
Last Tuesday, I posted a memo about the "Palestinian Right of Return." I did not take sides, but only attempted to cut through the propaganda surrounding the issue, as it is absolutely clear to me that Palestinian President Yasir Arafat long ago conceded that issue in principle to the Israelis. Part of the memo posted here related to the debate between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Robert Malley, who was special assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs and the senior staff member of the National Security Council in that period when Barak and Arafat's negotiators were engaged in the Camp David peace talks. To this day, we hear arguments from the American Jewish Community that Arafat walked away from the generous offer made at Camp David. The debate, sponsored by the New York Review of Books in its June 13 issue, was absolutely marvelous, enlightening, civilized and practically conclusive. Malley's smoking gun was the statement issued by the Barak team and the Arafat team after negotiations that continued after the inconclusive Camp David talks. Arafat did not walk away from anything. The statement was posted and remains on the website of Israel's Foreign Ministry:
The two sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement and it is thus our shared belief that the remaining gaps could be bridged with the resumption of negotiations following the Israeli elections.
We now have the second installment of the debate, with Barak seconded by Bennie Morris, an academic historian at Ben Gurion University, and Malley seconded by Hussein Agha of St. Antony's College, Oxford. I eagerly awaited this issue of the NYReview to see how Barak would handle the material presented by Malley. What a disappointment. What a jerk Barak turns out to be. Instead of dealing with the issues and the time line, Barak goes off on a tirade against Arafat. Read the exchange for yourself, and if I am in error, please write to complain. But if Barak accepts the conclusions of his negotiators at the Taba, Egypt talks, which were suspended for the Israeli elections, then he does not have a leg to stand on in accusing Arafat of being intransigent and faithless. The only explanation is that Barak is basically a weasel, and an incompetent weasel at that, or he would not be caught so cleanly. If it is easier to flat out lie about Arafat and the negotiations in order to remain in the good graces of Ariel Sharon, it appears he has made that choice.
June 13: Barak and Morris
June 13: Malley and Agha
June 27: Both teams in response