The Clinton Parameters

The Clinton Parameters

The Clinton Parameters (Hebrew: מתווה קלינטון‎, Mitveh Clinton, lit. Clinton's Outline) is a term attributed to the guidelines for Permanent Status Agreement, that were offered by then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, in late 2000.

The background for 'Clinton's Parameters' was the opening of the Second Intifada, 'al-Aqsa Intifada', the failure of 2000 Camp David Summit, the up coming Israeli elections, which polls indicated a possible defeat for then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the end of the Clinton presidency, in which Clinton desired to end the eight years of Peace efforts and Middle East arena in a successful note. The proposal was presented in 23 December 2000. Clinton emphasised that the proposal was a 'take it or leave it' plan, in which the Parameters were non-negotiable and served as the basis for a permanent peace agreement. Each side could accept it or reject it as is, and may not offer any changes to it.




According to the Parameters, Israel would retain sovereignty over the Western Wall. The Palestinians would gain sovereignty and Israel would gain "symbolic ownership" over the rest of the Temple Mount, with both parties sharing sovereignty over the issue of excavations under the Temple Mount. East Jerusalem and its Old City would be divided according to ethnic lines, with Israel retaining sovereignty over Jewish neighborhoods, and the Palestinians gaining sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods.[1]


The Clinton Parameters proposed that the Palestinians gain between 94-96% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, with Israel annexing the remaining land, which would include almost all Israeli settlements, containing 80% of the settler population. Israel would cede 1-3% of land to the Palestinians in land swaps to compensate for the annexations. The Palestinian state would have to be contiguous, and annexed areas along with the number of Palestinians affected would be as minimized as possible.[1]


The Parameters required the Palestinians to waive their claim to an unlimited "right of return" to Israel proper, and Israel to acknowledge the "moral and material suffering caused to the Palestinian people by the 1948 war, and the need to assist the international community in addressing the problem". Under the Parameters, an international commission would be established to implement all aspects dealing with refugees as part of a permanent peace agreement. The Palestinian state would accept all refugees wishing to settle in its territory. The remaining refugees would be rehabilitated in their host countries, immigrate to third-party countries, and a limited number could settle in Israel if it agreed to accept them. Both sides would agree that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 has been implemented.[1]


Clinton's Parameters proposed that Israel would retain a military presence throughout fixed locations in the Jordan Valley, under the authority of an international force for the first 36 months. This period could be reduced in the event of the diminishing of regional threats to Israel. Israel would also set up three radar facilities in the West Bank. These facilities would have a Palestinian liaison and would be subject to review after every ten years, with any changes in their status to be mutually agreed by both parties.

The Palestinian state would gain sovereignty over its own airspace, with special reservations for Israeli training and operational needs. The Palestinian state would also be defined as a "non-militarized state", and would not possess conventional military forces, but would be allowed to have a "strong security force". The Palestinian state would also have an international force for border security and deterrence.

In the event of a military threat to Israel's national security requiring a state of emergency, Israel would be allowed to deploy military forces to certain areas and routes, according to a pre-drawn map. International forces would have to be notified prior to any such deployments.[1]

End of the Conflict

The Parameters required that this agreement put an end to the conflict and any other claims. This could be implemented through a United Nations Security Council Resolution declaring that Resolutions 242 and 338 have been implemented.[1]


The Parameters received a mix of support and criticism within Israel, with some in the Israeli government, as well as the Mayor of Jerusalem opposing them. There were also fears that the Parameters would not be approved in a public referendum, and that the Palestinians might violate their terms of the agreements.

Despite some provisions on Jerusalem being contrary to the election promises of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the Parameters received wide support in the Israeli cabinet, which voted to accept them, with Cabinet Minister, Roni Milo, being the only one to resign over his objection to the Cabinet's approval of the plan. Although he chose to accept the plan, Prime Minister Barak sent Clinton a 20-page letter of "reservations". The two main points were that he "would not sign any document that transfers sovereignty on the Temple Mount to the Palestinians", and that "no Israeli prime minister will accept even one refugee on the basis of the right of return."[2] Minor reservations were also made with regard to security arrangements, deployment areas, and control over passages. In a phone conversation with Clinton, Prime Minister Barak also demanded that Israel be allowed to retain sovereignty over the "sacred basin" - the whole area outside the Old City that includes the City of David and the Tombs of the Prophets on the road to the Mount of Olives, which was not mentioned in the Parameters.[3]

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat formally accepted the Parameters on January 3, 2001. He too sent a letter of reservations to President Clinton, in which he demanded complete sovereignty over all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the dismantlement of all Israeli settlements in those areas, further negotiations on the permanent status of the entire city of Jerusalem, an unlimited right of return for all Palestinian refugees who chose to do so, and financial compensation to both the refugees for material losses and to the Palestinian government.[citation needed]

According to Clinton and Ross, Israel's reservations were "within" the Parameters, and Arafat's reservations were "outside" them, and Arafat never formally accepted each of the conditions contained in the parameters.[4] A different view is that both Israeli and Palestinian reservations questioned fundamental aspects of the Clinton parameters.[5]

Additional attempts to reach a compromise in Taba Summit were unsuccessful, although some progress was made. In Israel, The Prime Minister's opponents claimed that his government lacks the support of the Israeli public, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and the polls, and that he was submitting Israel to a "liquidation sale".


  1. ^ a b c d e
  2. ^ Ari Shavit, "Eyes Wide Shut," [interview with Ehud Barak] Ha'aretz, September 6, 2002
  3. ^ Swisher, Clayton: The Truth about Camp David: The Untold Story about the Collapse of the Middle East Peace Process
  4. ^ Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux), p. 756
  5. ^ Jeremy Pressman, "Visions in Collision: What Happened at Camp David and Taba?" International Security, vol 28, no. 2, Fall 2003, p. 20, PDF

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