Soon after the signing of the first Oslo agreement seven
years ago, Dr. Yossi Beilin, then the protege of Shimon Peres
and now Minister of Justice (and acting Minister of
Religions), embarked on an eighteen month effort with
prominent Palestinians to frame a plan for a final settlement
that was acceptable to both sides. The result -- never before
released for public scrutiny -- was known as the Beilin-Abu
Right at the beginning, Beilin went straight to Arafat (while
he was still in Tunisia) to ask him to join in an effort to
work out principles for a final agreement between Israel and
the Palestinians. Arafat agreed and delegated the job to his
closest advisor, Mahmoud Abbas, known also as Abu Mazen. Both
took the effort very seriously and formed negotiating teams.
The number of people involved in the effort was deliberately
kept to a minimum in order to ensure secrecy.
For eighteen months they met and worked. Secrecy was
preserved, even though they met in Jerusalem, Cyprus and
various European cities. The effort was financed, at least in
part, by Sweden.
In the end they produced a sweeping yet very detailed
blueprint for an agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians. The final document was completed on October 31,
1995, and was supposed to have been presented to Israeli
Prime Minister Rabin and to Arafat. However the Israeli prime
minister was struck down by an assassin's bullet only four
days later, so his reaction to the plan will never be known.
Prime Minister Rabin's widow recently said that her husband
would not have agreed to concessions offered by current
Israeli Prime Minister Barak at the recent Camp David
negotiations, though they do not go substantially beyond what
was already envisioned by Beilin five years ago.
Though Abu Mazen withdrew his unqualified assent soon after
it was published, and it was never adopted officially by
anyone, nonetheless, the plan was known and served to define
the parameters of the discussion. It had something to say
about almost every aspect of contention.
One of the most revealing paragraphs relates to Jerusalem.
"The government of Israel shall extend its recognition to the
independent State of Palestine within agreed and secure
borders, with its capital Al-Quds. Simultaneously, the State
of Palestine shall extend its recognition to the State of
Israel within agreed and secure borders with its capital
Yerushalayim. Both sides continue to look favorably at the
possibility of establishing a Jordanian-Palestinian
confederation, to be agreed upon by the State of Palestine
and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."
Since this agreement was signed by Beilin, a very close
associate of Shimon Peres (Rabin had called him "Peres'
poodle"), more than six months before the elections of 1996
in which Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister, it makes
clear that the Likud charge in that election campaign --
"Peres will divide Jerusalem" -- was accurate. At the time,
Peres and the Labor Party argued that the Likud slogan was a
malicious distortion. The official Labor platform did call
for a united Jerusalem, but the terms of the Beilin-Abu Mazen
agreement, which clearly provide for a division of Jerusalem
into Jewish and Arab states, are not consistent with that.
The Beilin-Abu Mazen plan envisions an expanded Jerusalem
that would include Abu Dis, Eizariya, Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat
Ze'ev, and other adjacent areas. Within the city of
Jerusalem, neighborhoods inhabited by Israelis are defined as
"Israeli boroughs," and neighborhoods inhabited by
Palestinians are called "Palestinian boroughs."
"The parties agree to maintain one municipality for the city
of Jerusalem in the form of a Joint Higher Municipal Council,
formed by representatives of the boroughs. These
representatives will elect the mayor of the city of
Jerusalem," the document reads.
Beilin and Abu Mazen did not go into details regarding the
Old City, but wrote that "in recognition of the special
status and significance of the Old City area for members of
the Christian, Jewish, and Moslem faiths, the parties agree
to grant this area a special status."
An official in the Prime Minister's Office denied Monday
night that this document was the basis for the talks at the
Camp David summit in July. Newsweek reported that U.S.
President Bill Clinton considered the draft document a "core
idea" at Camp David.
Regarding settlements, the plan stipulates that "there will
be no exclusive civilian residential areas for Israelis in
the State of Palestine. Individual Israelis remaining within
the borders of the Palestinian state shall be subject to
Palestinian sovereignty and Palestinian rule of law."
On another difficult issue, the Palestinian refugees, the
document says that Israel "acknowledges the moral and
material suffering caused to the Palestinian people as a
result of the war of 1947-1949; it further acknowledges the
Palestinian refugees' right of return to the Palestinian
state and their right to compensation and rehabilitation for
moral and material losses."
At the same time, the document reads that, "Whereas the
Palestinian side considers that the right of the Palestinian
refugees to return to their homes is enshrined in
international law and natural justice, it recognizes that the
prerequisites of the new era of peace and coexistence, as
well as the realities that have been created on the ground
since 1948, have rendered the implementation of this right
Newsweek did not publish the maps that accompanied the
paper, but according to details that have leaked out over the
years, some 94 percent of the West Bank -- including the
Jordan Valley -- as well as all of the Gaza Strip would be
ceded to the Palestinians. The new state would be
demilitarized, and Abu Mazen agreed that Israel maintain
three battalions and three early warning stations and air
defense units in the Jordan valley.