Wye River Memorandum
The Wye River Memorandum was an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of September 28, 1995. Brokered by the United States at the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Centers near Wye River, Maryland, it was signed on October 23, 1998.
Clinton opened the summit at the secluded Wye River Conference Center on October 15 and returned at least six times to the site to press Netanyahu and Arafat to finalize the deal. In the final push to get Netanyahu and Arafat to overcome remaining obstacles, Clinton invited King Hussein who had played a past role in easing tensions between the two men, to join the talks.
On the final day of the negotiations, the agreement almost fell through. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked President Bill Clinton to release Jonathan Pollard, an American naval intelligence officer who has been serving a life sentence since 1985 for giving classified information to Israel. A bitter disagreement arose, with Netanyahu claiming that Clinton had promised to release Pollard, and Clinton saying he had only promised to "review" the case. It was also reported that then director of the CIA George Tenet had threatened to resign if Pollard was released.
On November 17, 1998, Israel's 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Wye River Memorandum by a vote of 75–19.
Both sides only implemented the first phase of the Memorandum. Israel withdrew from all territory it was required to transfer to the Palestinian Authority within the timetable. Israel did not see reciprocal steps being taken by the Palestinian Authority. Thus, Israel believed that the Palestinian Authority's promises to implement its share of responsibilities under the Wye River Memorandum were not serious, and the agreement's understandings and goals were un-implemented.
- 1 Initial steps as stipulated by the agreement
- 2 Redeployments
- 3 Security
- 3.1 A: Security actions
- 3.2 B: Security cooperation
- 3.3 C: Other issues
- 4 Economic issues
- 5 Permanent status negotiations
- 6 Actions
- 7 Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Initial steps as stipulated by the agreement
The steps to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of September 28, 1995 and other related agreements including (the Hebron Protocol of January 17, 1997) ("prior agreements") so that the Israeli and Palestinian sides could more effectively carry out their reciprocal responsibilities, including those relating to further redeployments and security.
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A: Phase one and two further redeployments
(Note about areas:
- Area A – full control of the Palestinian Authority.
- Area B – Palestinian civil control, Israeli military control.
- Area C – full Israeli control.)
1.The Israeli side's implementation of the first and second F.R.D. was to consist of the transfer to the Palestinian side of 13% from Area C as follows:
- 1% to Area (A)
- 12% to Area (B)
The Palestinian side had informed that it would allocate an area/areas amounting to 3% from the above Area (B) to be designated as Green Areas and/or Nature Reserves.
The Israeli side would retain in these Green Areas/Nature Reserves the overriding security responsibility for the purpose of protecting Israelis and confronting the threat of terrorism.
B: Third phase of further redeployments
With regard to the terms of the Interim Agreement and of Secretary Warren Christopher's letters to the two sides of January 17, 1997 relating to the further redeployment process, there was a committee to address this question. The United States wanted to be briefed regularly.
In the provisions on security arrangements of the Interim Agreement, the Palestinian side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Israeli side, against individuals falling under the Israeli side's authority and against their property, just as the Israeli side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Palestinian side, against individuals falling under the Palestinian side's authority and against their property. The two sides also agreed to take legal measures against offenders within their jurisdiction and to prevent incitement against each other by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction.
A: Security actions
1: Outlawing and combating terrorist organizations
(a) The Palestinian side was to make known its policy of zero tolerance for terror and violence against both sides. (b) A work plan developed by the Palestinian side would be shared with the U.S. and thereafter implementation would begin immediately to ensure the systematic and effective combat of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure. (c) In addition to the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a U.S.–Palestinian committee would meet biweekly to review the steps being taken to eliminate terrorists calls and the support structure that plans, finances, supplies and abets terror. (d) The Palestinian side would apprehend the specific individuals suspected of perpetrating acts of violence and terror for the purpose of further investigation, and prosecution and punishment of all persons involved in acts of violence and terror. (e) A U.S.–Palestinian committee would meet to review and evaluate information pertinent to the decisions on prosecution, punishment or other legal measures which affect the status of individuals suspected of abetting or perpetrating acts of violence and terror.
2: Prohibiting illegal weapons
(a) The Palestinian side would ensure an effective legal framework is in place to criminalize, in conformity with the prior agreements, any importation, manufacturing or unlicensed sale, acquisition or possession of firearms, ammunition or weapons in areas under Palestinian jurisdiction. (b) In addition, the Palestinian side would establish and vigorously and continuously implement a systematic program for the collection and appropriate handling of all such illegal items it accordance with the prior agreements. The U.S. agreed to assist in carrying out the program. (c) A U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would be established to assist and enhance cooperation in preventing the smuggling or other unauthorized introduction of weapons or explosive materials into areas under Palestinian jurisdiction.
3: Prevention of incitement
(a) The Palestinian side would issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror, and establishing mechanisms for acting systematically against all expressions or threats of violence or terror. This decree would be comparable to the existing Israeli legislation which deals with the same subject. (b) A U.S.–Palestinian-Israeli committee would meet on a regular basis to monitor cases of possible incitement to violence or terror and to make recommendations and reports on how to prevent such incitement. The Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. sides would each appoint a media specialist, a law enforcement representative, an educational specialist and a current or former elected official to the committee.
B: Security cooperation
The two sides agreed that their security cooperation would be based on a spirit of partnership and would include, among other things, the following steps:
1: Bilateral cooperation
There would be full bilateral security cooperation between the two sides which would be continuous, intensive and comprehensive.
2: Forensic cooperation
There would be an exchange of forensic expertise, training, and other assistance.
3: Trilateral committee
In addition to the bilateral Israeli–Palestinian security cooperation, a high-ranking U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would meet as required and not less than biweekly to assess current threats to deal with any impediments to effective security cooperation and coordination and address the steps being taken to combat terror and terrorist organizations.
C: Other issues
1: Palestinian police force
(a) The Palestinian side would provide a list of its policemen to the Israeli side in conformity with the prior agreements. (b) Should the Palestinian side request technical assistance, the U.S. indicated its willingness to help meet those needs in cooperation with other donors. (c) The Monitoring and Steering Committee would, as part of its functions, monitor the implementation of this provision and brief the U.S.
2: PLO charter
The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council should reaffirm the letter of January 22, 1998 from PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions that were inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel on September 9–10, 1993.
3: Legal assistance in criminal matters
Among other forms of legal assistance in criminal matters, there were requests for the arrest and transfer of suspects and defendants. The United States had been requested by the sides to report on a regular basis on the steps being taken to respond to the above requests.
4: Human rights and the rule of law
Accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and would be guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity, and avoid harassment.
- The Israeli and Palestinian sides reaffirmed their commitment to improve their relationship and agreed on the need to actively promote economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- The Israeli and Palestinian sides agreed on arrangements which would permit the timely opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate.
- Both sides should have renewed negotiations on Safe Passage immediately. Negotiations on the northern route would continue with the goal of reaching agreement as soon as possible.
- The Israeli and Palestinian sides acknowledged the great importance of the Port of Gaza for the development of the Palestinian economy, and the expansion of Palestinian trade.
- The two sides recognized that unresolved legal issues hurt the relationship between the two peoples.
- The Israeli and Palestinian sides also should launch a strategic economic dialogue to enhance their economic relationship.
- The two sides agreed on the importance of continued international donor assistance in helping both sides to implement agreements.
Permanent status negotiations
The two sides would immediately resume permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis and will make a determined effort to achieve the mutual goal of reaching an agreement by May 4, 1999.
Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side should have initiated, or take any step that would change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.
Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties
- Paris Peace Conference, 1919
- Faisal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)
- 1949 Armistice Agreements
- Camp David Accords (1978)
- Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1979)
- Madrid Conference of 1991
- Oslo Accords (1993)
- Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
- Camp David 2000 Summit
- Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
- List of Middle East peace proposals
- International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict
- Ross, Dennis (2004). The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 237. ISBN 0-374-19973-6.
- Gellman, Barton (October 24, 1998). "Netanyahu, Arafat Sign Accord; Talks Nearly Founder After Israel Demands Convicted Spy's Release". The Washington Post. p. A1.
- US State Department, 18 December 1998 Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process
- Eran, 143
- Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002.
- Knesset official text of the Wye River Memorandum with link to Hebrew version
- Knesset approves Wye
- Middle East Official Texts on the United States Embassy official site (Hyperlinks; see Ongoing Peace Efforts 1998 (Archived documents)
- Memo of agreement: Joint Statement of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel (The White House press release of October 31, 1998, posted in the archives on the United States Embassy official site)
- Middle East Talks, Wye River, October 16–23, 1998 United States Embassy official site
- United States Embassy photos of the talks (October 1998)
- Official text of the Wye River Memorandum on the United States Department of State site ("permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001")
- “The Wye River Memorandum and Israeli Settlements” by Geoffrey Aronson, 1999 informational brief with The Palestine Center.