Interestingly, at the press conference after the Camp David meetings ended, this is how Clinton described the atmosphere:
“Let me give you some good news. Of all the peace groups I ever worked with, these people know each other, they know the names of each other’s children, they know how many grandchildren the grandparents have, they know their life stories, they have a genuine respect and understanding for each other. It is truly extraordinary and unique in my experience in almost eight years of dealing with it.”
Assigning the blame for failure of Camp David II (and the subsequent talks at Taba) is critical for any assessment of the character of Yasser Arafat as a “partner for peace”. Most Israelis expected that Arafat’s categorical rejection of the Clinton proposals, which went well beyond the Israeli consensus, would result in a fresh international appreciation of the difficulties which Israel faced. However the effect on world opinion was not so clear-cut.
Professor Shibley Telhami of Maryland University  saw Arafat’s situation as simply impossible:
“In important ways, Jerusalem is bigger than Palestine for many Arabs and Muslims, and had Arafat been perceived to have given away Jerusalem, he would not have been able to sell the deal – or contain the opposition.
Instead of leading to a comprehensive deal, the focus on Jerusalem, and the framing of the issue in religious terms at Camp David and since, may have ignited a serious threat to Palestinian-Israeli peace that goes beyond the violence: the possible transformation of the conflict from a nationalist conflict that can be resolved to a religious-ethnic dispute that cannot.”
This is another remark by journalist David Hirst, also from Arafat’s obituary in the Guardian Weekly:
“Barak conceived the fantastically overweening notion of telescoping everything…into one climactic conclave. This would “end the 100-year conflict” at a stroke… After 15 days the conference collapsed. Arafat had stood firm, evidently deciding that it had been bad enough, and tactically ruinous, to cede historic goals temporarily; but quite another to cede them for all time, in the context of a final settlement. He might be Mr Palestine, but he had no Palestinian, Arab or Islamic mandate for ceding Jerusalem’s sovereignty or abandoning the rights of four million refugees.”