Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told Bill Clinton shortly after his presidency had ended that he was willing to accept a U.S.-proposed peace deal with Israel that he previously had rejected, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
“After my husband left office, Arafat calls him up some months later and says ‘I’m ready to take the deal now,’” Mrs. Clinton said during an interview with the Associated Press, according to a State Department transcript.
Mr. Clinton has long blamed Mr. Arafat for the failure of final status peace talks in 2000 and early 2001, in which the U.S. and Israel proposed a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and nearly all of the West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Mr. Arafat rejected the deal, in part due to its failure to grant millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to move to Israel.
Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Arafat changed his mind months later, after her husband and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had left office.
Mr. Arafat died in 2004. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has led subsequent rounds of failed peace talks with three Israeli prime ministers and now is seeking U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.