...members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition in Israel have already made it known that they would desert the coalition if he conceded to the main demands of the Palestinians for a viable independent state, including a capital in East Jerusalem and a formula for recognising the “Right of Return” for the refugees who fled what became Israel in 1948. On his side, in the run-up to Kerry’s announcement, Abbas faced fierce opposition from officials of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to any resumption of negotiations without a settlement freeze.
Yet, drawing on his own experience of shepherding negotiations between the Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat at Camp David in 1978, Carter believes such leaders can be coaxed to forge a deal by the prospect of attaining a place in history as the statesman who delivered their country from the grip of enduring conflict. Add to that the reward of a Nobel Peace Prize and any leader can be persuaded to face down his detractors back home.
Elaborating on this point, Carter told us that when Sadat and Begin arrived at Camp David with their respective entourages of 40 or so aides, to deter them from conferring with their colleagues back home or speaking to the media, they were informed that all the phones were being bugged. It was not true, he said, but the ruse worked, apparently. He also volunteered that Sadat’s aides were more hard-line than their president, while the members of the Israeli delegation were more amenable to concessions than was Begin himself. What finally convinced Begin to take the plunge, Carter said, was a phone call to none other than Ariel Sharon.