January 27, 2001
A week of discussions between Israel and Palestinian leaders conclude at the Egyptian resort town of Taba. The talks at Taba took place during the height of the second “Intifada” which had begun in September 2000; it followed the failure of the Ehud Barak, Yasser Arafat negotiations mediated by President Clinton at Camp David in July 2000.. The Taba talks were a last ditch effort by Barak to reach an agreement with the Palestinians before facing an uphill re-election campaign.
The talks were based on the Clinton Parameters which had been laid down by the President in the final days of his administration on January 7, 2001. They focused on four major themes: refugees, security, borders and Jerusalem. The talks were substantive and both sides agreed that significant progress towards a final agreement had been made. A joint statement declared, “The Taba Talks conclude an extensive phase in the Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations with the sense of having succeeded in rebuilding trust between the sides and with the notion that they were never closer in reaching an agreement between them than today. We leave Taba in a spirit of hope and mutual achievement acknowledging that the foundations have been laid both in reestablishing mutual confidence and having progresses in a substantive engagement on all core issues.”
The promising remarks did not carry enough weight with the Israeli public. On February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon defeated Barak in a landslide election for Prime Minister. Sharon said upon taking office, that he would only be bound by signed agreements and not by what was discussed at either Camp David or Taba and that he would not resume negotiations from the point at which they were left at Taba.
The photo shows Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami (on left) shaking hands with Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei on January 21, 2001.