Unilateral declaration of statehood would scuttle Wye River Memorandum
Communicated by the Israel Government Press Office, November 17, 1998
==== The Agreement ====
Under the Oslo Accords and the Wye River Memorandum, the Palestinian
Authority (PA) is obligated to negotiate with Israel the permanent status
of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The September 28, 1995 Interim Agreement (“Oslo 2”) states,
“Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the
status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the
permanent status negotiations” (Article XXXI(7)).
This article prohibits unilateral measures which would alter the legal
status of the areas (such as annexation or declaration of statehood).
The accord also states that the issues to be covered in the final status
talks are to include:
“Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security
arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and
other issues of common interest” (Article XXXI(6)).
Thus, the PA is obligated to negotiate these issues with Israel.
The October 23, 1998 Wye River Memorandum states,
“Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for
the negotiations, neither side shall initiate or take any step that will
change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with
the Interim Agreement.” (Article V)
In an October 29, 1998 letter to Israel’s Cabinet Secretary, U.S.
Ambassador to Israel Edward S. Walker, Jr. cited an October 27 public
statement by the U.S. State Department which said,
“those who believe that they can declare unilateral positions or
take unilateral acts, when the interim period ends, are courting disaster.”
==== The Violation ====
PA Chairman Arafat and other senior Palestinian leaders have repeatedly
stated their intention to unilaterally declare the establishment of a
Palestinian state in May 1999. This would render the Oslo Accords and the
Wye River Memorandum null and void.
Addressing a rally in Nablus on November 14, 1998, Arafat said:
declare our independent state on May 4, 1999 with Jerusalem as its capital,
yes Jerusalem, the eternal capital of our state, whether they like it or
not. Now we are on our land and we are regaining this holy land inch by
inch until we set up our state in 1999.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that if Chairman Arafat
unilaterally declares the establishment of a Palestinian state without
negotiating the matter with Israel, it would scuttle the agreements. Israel
will then feel free to protect its national interests by taking unilateral
measures of its own, including the extension of Israeli law over areas in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza under its control.