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Peace Talks End with No Agreement

Aired July 19, 2000 - 10:53 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Perri, we are going to go now to CNN's Jerrold Kessel, who's been standing by outside, near Camp David.

Jerrold, are you there?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, yes. And a statement issued just moments ago on behalf of Joe Lockhart, the White House spokesman, saying, "The summit has come to an end. It has concluded without reaching an agreement." That very bland two short sentence statement concludes this attempt by the United States to broker this peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and it has failed. The United States had set itself the objective of trying to reach a full peace agreement.

Both leaders, Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, had come here saying that they wanted a full agreement with all the issues involved clarified and resolved, but this has not happened. We have not been told at this stage whether they had reached agreements or understanding on some of the crux issues which had been at stake. But clearly, there are some that have not been able to have been bridged, and the summit has ended without reaching that desired objective, a peace agreement, or the framework for a peace agreement, between Israel and the Palestinians -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jerrold, you've been talking to people on both sides of this leading up to this summit? Did they come to Camp David seriously believing that something could be worked out, or saying well, we'll give it a try, but this is really a longshot?

KESSEL: That's a difficult one to judge, a difficult one to state categorically, because the -- I would say that Prime Minister Barak had said that he believed it was necessary to do the negotiations in this format, in the concentrated form of a summit, which would focus all the energies and all the efforts on focusing on the issues. He said that the issues were clear, the were what needed to be made.

The Palestinians, for their part, have been wary indeed. They said there had been not enough groundwork and preparation for the summit, to the extent they were too far apart on several of the issues, and that they forecast that it would not end in success. That's not to say that they didn't go into the summit saying that they wanted it to be a success, and they would give ave it every bit of their best shot. However, it seems as if that outlook has been the one that has been proven true. Whether it's because they didn't make the movement or because they didn't hadn't had enough time to make the judgment of what needed to be done, that will be in the analysis and the long, and believe in many ways, tortured analysis, of what went on in these nine days of Camp David behind the closed doors of those negotiations -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jerrold, just quickly to wrap up here, do you believe that given the fact they have not reached an agreement here, that it's even harder to try to do this in the future?

KESSEL: Yes, I think that is a fair statement. In many ways, they had said and this was the strategy that I think primarily Prime Minister Barak had set for the peace process, to say that it could be done in a concentrated form, and that if they didn't do it, then it was because there was no readiness to make the decisions. That was the implication that he made in his letter, which we haven't been privy to the exact clauses in, but which he's let it be known to Israeli reporters that he said that the Palestinians have not bee not willing to make that kind of adjustment to the realities.

The Palestinians, for their part, accused the Israelis of not being ready the to make the necessary adjustments to the realities in terms of their aspirations, or to reduce their aspirations, and the two sides having done that at variants, seem as if they have not been able to bridge the differences.

However, that having been said, sources on both sides have consistently in the last few days have been telling us that there had been enormous progress toward not agreement so much, because they never actually concluded agreements, but understandings on some of those core issues, and the question is whether they will be able to take those understandings into the future, or whether they'll go by the board now, that they've decided that they cannot reach a full, and total, and comprehensive package deal for the basis for a peace agreement. Let's not forget this wasn't an attempt to reach the peace agreement itself, but to draw up the framework for such a peace, but they haven't been able to do that.

In a sense, you know, it's been raining here all day at Camp David. And that may be symbolic to a degree. There are those little letters that appear in the baseball scores at the end of a rained-off game, which says PPD, postponed, in a way, I think there might be some tinges of regret in some of the leader's minds, certainly probably in President Clinton's mind, that that PPD couldn't be written into this summit, and that it could resume at a later date. That may be very, very difficult, however, to do in reality -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure that the regrets will be enormous on at least the American side here.

All right, Jerrold Kessel, who's been reporting on this Camp David summit for the last week and a half, since it got under way. You just heard him report a very brief statement from the White House. The summit has ended. There is no agreement. That presumably means we're told that President Clinton will be leaving Camp David in the next few minutes, and presumably Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak will also be leaving very soon, if not tonight, presumably tomorrow morning.

We will be continue our coverage. As soon as any further development or explanations come along, we will bring them to you live.



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