Many believe that the “covenant with many” of Daniel 9:27 will represent a treaty that brings peace to Israel and its neighbors. Several efforts have been made to bring about Mideast peace in the past few decades, including the Taba Summit in 2001. The Taba Summit was a final attempt by outgoing U.S. President Bill Clinton, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the Palestinians to come up with a peace deal. The summit is noteworthy because it is the closest Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have gotten so far to striking a peace deal. In fact, both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators acknowledged that they could have reached a deal if they had more time.
In this article, I will highlight some of the items discussed at the Taba Summit. I think it’s worthwhile to examine some of what was discussed at the Taba Summit because it may provide us with some idea of what an eventual Middle East peace deal (Daniel 9:27’s “covenant with many”) might include.
The E.U.’s special representative to the Middle East Process at the time and a team of other officials authored an unofficial E.U. report on the negotiations at the Taba Summit. The authors of the report state in the introduction that “Although the paper has no official status, it has been acknowledged by the parties as being a relatively fair description of the outcome of the negotiations on the permanent status issues at Taba”. I will draw upon the E.U. report to give you an idea of what was discussed at the Taba Summit since the parties involved describe the account as “fair”.
Here are some of the key issues the Israelis and the Palestinians discussed at the Taba Summit.
- Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the pre-1967 borders would serve as the basis for the borders of Israel and a Palestinian State with some land-swaps. However, both sides could not agree on the right percentage of land to swap.
- Israel and the Palestinians exchanged maps concerning how they envisioned the West Bank (which is where a Palestinian state would primarily be located). The following link is a map that Israel presented to the Palestinians at the Taba Summit: Link
- Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the Gaza Strip would be controlled by the Palestinians and that there would be a territorial link between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. However, both sides did not agree to who would control the territorial link.
- Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the Palestinians should have sovereignty over the Arab neighbors of Jerusalem and Israel should have sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
- Both sides agreed to the concept of making Jerusalem an “open city”, meaning that Israelis and Palestinians can travel into the city without facing any security checkpoints. In addition, Jerusalem would be the capital for Israel and for a Palestinian state.
- Israel and the Palestinians agreed that each side would control their respective religious sites. However, the two sides could not agree on how to deal with the Temple Mount. Interestingly, a suggestion that was neither accepted nor rejected called for a group of countries to control the Temple Mount for a period of time.
- Israel and the Palestinians disagreed about the degree that a Palestinian state should be demilitarized. Israel wanted a Palestinian state to be completely demilitarized while the Palestinians only agreed to have a limited amount of arms.
- Israel and the Palestinians were ready to commit to security cooperation and to fight terrorism together
The points above show that many issues need to be resolved for a viable Middle East peace plan to arise and that much of these issues were addressed at the Taba Summit. Although Israel and the Palestinians agreed in principle to many of the issues above, there was not enough agreement and time to finish the deal. For instance, the issue of the Temple Mount remained a major issue that could not be agreed upon by the two sides despite the two sides agreeing in principle to respect each other’s religious sites.
The momentum from the Taba Summit ended as Ehud Barak had to devote his remaining time to his reelection campaign, Clinton left office, and Ariel Sharon took power following the Israeli election. Sharon opposed key, controversial concessions Barak made like returning Israel’s boundaries to the pre-1967 borders.
You can read the full E.U. report at the following link. It’s an interesting read as it shows how much progress Israel and the Palestinians made towards making a deal and it gives one a good sense of how complicated & difficult it is to make an all-encompassing peace deal.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that future Israeli and Palestinian leaders and negotiators revive some of the ideas discussed at the Taba Summit of 2001 when trying to negotiate a deal since the ideas discussed and agreed to brought both sides relatively close to making a deal.
If you are curious, you can read about the Arab League’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East at the following link.
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