Jerusalem Post: Seeking the elusive refugee formula

Israel's reaction to the Arab Peace Initiative, will be determined by how the Arab leaders choose to finesse the refugee issue. The best compromise, says Gidi Grinstein, lies in the Clinton Parameters.

Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post

According to Clinton's ideas, "Israel could indicate in the agreement that it intended to establish a policy so that some of the refugees could be absorbed into Israel, consistent with Israel's sovereign decision."

And therein, said Gidi Grinstein, president of the Re'ut Institute and secretary and coordinator of the Israeli negotiating team under Ehud Barak from 1999-2001, lies the beauty of the Clinton parameters on this matter. Grinstein, who actually typed up the final version of these parameters presented to the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, said it recognized the "right of return," but made it dependent on an Israeli willingness to let the refugees in - something no Israeli leader would likely agree to.

"This formulation allowed the Palestinians to indicate that the right of return had been recognized, but allowed the Israeli side to maintain full sovereignty over the issue of who would be allowed to enter Israel," he said.

Grinstein said Israel neither agreed nor made any commitment at the time to admit any number of Palestinian refugees, even a symbolic amount - a position that very much remains Jerusalem's policy to this day.

Click here for the full article.