"Documenting a Diplomatic Failure"
What You Need To Know:
THE HUMAN FACTOR pretty much accepts President Clinton’s view that it was Yasser Arafat who eventually torpedoed the peace negotiations in July 2000 and before Clinton left office in 2001. It also blames Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for a couple strategic errors. The documentary makes a compelling case for this view, but the movie is otherwise a bit superficial and dry. THE HUMAN FACTOR has some newsreel violence. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
THE HUMAN FACTOR is a documentary that covers the Clinton Administration’s attempts from 1993 to 2000 to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. THE HUMAN FACTOR pretty much accepts President Clinton’s view that it was Yasser Arafat, the elderly leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, who eventually torpedoed the search for a final peace deal, but it also lays some blame on a couple strategic errors by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999 and 2000. The documentary makes a good case for this view, though, otherwise, the movie is a bit superficial and dry.
The movie opens with a discussion from the viewpoint of a few Clinton advisors about the importance of diplomatic negotiations between adversaries, in this case the Israelis and the so-called Palestinian people. Such negotiations require a level of credibility and trust, they contend. Successful negotiations must “build bridges” between the two parties and address the needs of both sides.
The rest of the documentary shows how President Clinton and his administration tried to accomplish all this and bring about a final peace treaty between the Israelis, represented by four different prime ministers from July 1992 to March 7, 2001, and the Palestinians, represented by Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Feb. 4, 1969 until he died Nov. 11, 2004. The United States labeled the PLO a terrorist group in 1987, but Arafat and the PLO in 1993 recognized Israel’s right to exist, and the Israeli government recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. As the documentary shows, a lengthy negotiation between Israel and the PLO began at that time, but it ended in July 2000 when negotiations broke down at Camp David when Arafat rejected a peace offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak that would have created a Palestinian state. As a result, in September of 2000, the PLO and Arafat began a violent protest against Israel that lasted for five years. The documentary ends with the 2000 Camp David failure and when Clinton vainly tries to get a final deal before he left office on Jan. 20, 2001. In October 2018, the PLO ended official recognition of Israel and halted all security and economic cooperation.
THE HUMAN FACTOR is a bit talky, but it offers an interesting inside look into the Clinton Administration’s efforts from 1993 to 2001 to broker a peace deal between the Israeli government and the PLO. The movie takes the side of President Clinton and his negotiators, who ultimately blamed Arafat for the breakdown in peace talks at Camp David. It also blames Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for a couple strategic errors, such as his decision at one point to focus on trying to make a deal with Syria before returning to negotiations with Arafat in 2000. The documentary says the main sticking point for Arafat was Clinton’s proposal for the Israelis and the PLO to agree to a joint handling of the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem, which includes the Western Wall of the Second Temple that Jews believe is sacred and the Al Aqsa Mosque that Muslim Arabs believe is sacred.
However, according to “In Depth: Arafat Rejected Peace in 2000,” by Salo Aizenberg, HonestReporting, Feb. 1, 2021, https://honestreporting.com/in-depth-arafat-rejected-peace-in-2000/, Arafat not only rejected Clinton’s proposal for handling the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem, he also totally dismissed Jewish history in the Holy Land and supported an unlimited “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs to return to Israel, thereby totally destroying any idea of a Jewish state there. Aizenberg’s article also shows that both Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian Ambassador felt that Clinton’s proposal was a good deal that Arafat should have, and could have, said yes to, but didn’t. The Prince and the ambassador blame Arafat for the breakdown of peace talks and the beginning of renewed violence by the Palestinian people, which has often risen its ugly head in the last 21 years.
In reality, of course, there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. In 1948, when the United Nations supported the establishment of a small Jewish state in the Middle East, Arabs and Muslims in the area, supported by multiple Arab/Muslim governments, started a war to utterly destroy the new Jewish state. To their chagrin, the Israeli government and its citizens won that war and even took more territory than the United Nations had given them. The formation of the PLO in 1964 was the ultimate outgrowth of an Arab nationalist movement under the Ottoman Empire’s Islamic control of the Middle East, which started in 1834. Arabs and Muslims in the area started a “Palestinian” identity in the wake of the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I. In 1922, the newly formed League of Nations entrusted Great Britain with a “Mandate for Palestine,” which included a vast area to the west and east of the Jordan River. The area to the west of the Jordan River was to be separated into a Palestinian state for Jews and a Palestinian state for Arabs and Muslims. Eventually, the area east of the Jordan River became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Sadly, many Arabs and Muslims have opposed any Jewish state in the Middle East in the last 104 years, to the point of frequent overt violence and terrorism. In the last 21 years, an even more radical terrorist group than the PLO called Hamas, has become a major leader of the armed Arab/Muslim opposition against the Jewish state of Israel.