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Barak Agreed To Hand Temple Mount & Yesha to Arabs in 2000 Talks

Seven years ago, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to transfer the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site, to Arab sovereignty.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/13/2007, 2:11 PM

Photo: Flash 90

According to a document brought out of mothballs seven years after it was signed, Defense Minister Ehud Barak – then Prime Minister of Israel – agreed to transfer the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site, to Arab sovereignty.

The document entitled "The Status of the Diplomatic Process with the Palestinians - Points to Update the Incoming Prime Minister" outlined the many points of disagreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but noted significant agreement on at least three core issues.

The talks at Camp David and Taba in 2000 and 2001 resulted in agreements on the issues of borders, "refugees" and Jerusalem,  according to a 26-page document obtained by the Ha'aretz news service.

Signed by Gilad Sher, bureau chief to then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the document included plans for an "initiated separation" in the event that talks would break down. It was the precursor to Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza, which was carried out in then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's 2005 Disengagement operation, and to withdraw from Judea and Samaria which the current government is planning.

All aspects of life were to be covered in a plan that was to be carried out over a number of years -- leaving enough time for adjustment and change as conditions warranted, including updated negotiations.

The document indicated the cabinet gave its final approval for the plan in October 2000.

On December 23, 2000, then-US President Bill Clinton sent a document entitled "The Ideas Raised by President Clinton" to Israel and the PA. 

Those ideas were for Israel to annex 4 to 6% of Judea and Samaria for Jewish settlement, with 94-96% of the region going to a PA state, providing that Israel allow all PLO Arabs free passage through Israel.  The Temple Mount would go to the PLO, with the Western Wall, the City of David, the Mount of Olives and other holy sites being given to Israel.

According to Ha'aretz, Israel told Clinton that it wanted a special authority to ensure freedom of worship to Jews and Muslims at Jerusalem holy sites.

In the Israeli response, Barak stated that the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria would not fit into Clinton's proposed annexed territory.  He also stated that Israel should be in charge of securing safe passage to all worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron, Joseph's Tomb in Shechem, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

Barak and Clinton agreed to keep Israel's seven-page response a secret, but Barak sent letters before he left office to Clinton, George W. Bush, Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saying that Israel was not bound by Clinton's manifesto.

Recently Barak, who is now the Defense Minister and Labor party chairman, has said he is advocating a plan to entice Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to leave their homes in exchange for financial compensation.