Communicated by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January
The Wye River Memorandum, signed in Washington on October 23, 1998, sets
out a series of specific obligations of the Israeli and Palestinian sides to be
implemented in a phased approach in accordance with a detailed Time Line. The
third phase of this Time Line (weeks 2 – 6 after entry into force) was due to
have been completed on 18 December 1998, but, as outlined below, most of
the obligations of this phase are still awaiting implementation.
Despite recent internal political developments in Israel, the Government of Israel
has reiterated its commitment to the Wye Memorandum in all its aspects,
together with all the other Israel-Palestinian agreements. Israel will continue to
negotiate all outstanding issues and implement its obligations on the basis of
- Security Obligations
Significant Palestinian security obligations are still outstanding from the
earlier phases of the Wye Time Line. In particular, the Palestinian side has not
taken the necessary measures to “outlaw all organizations (or wings of
organizations, as appropriate) of a military, terrorist or violent character and
their support structure”.Other areas of serious concern in the field of security are the failure of
the Palestinian side to comply with its security work plan and to engage in “full
bilateral security cooperation” as required by the Memorandum, and the
continuation of the “revolving door” policy whereby security offenders are
subjected to token arrests and almost immediately released.
- Illegal Weapons
Under the Wye Memorandum, the Palestinian side undertook to establish a
legal framework for the collection of illegal weapons, and also to take
significant steps to collect and dispose of illegal weapons during the current
phase. The collection of these weapons is to be completed by 12th week of the
Time Line.Notwithstanding these commitments, and despite the decree issued by
the Palestinian side, there are literally thousands of illegal weapons freely held
in the areas under Palestinian jurisdiction, not only in the hands of civilians but
also in the hands of the Palestinian Police. These weapons considerably exceed
the numbers permitted by the Interim Agreement and many of them, including
mortars, mines and grenade launchers, are totally prohibited by the Agreement.
During the current period, when the international community is witness to the
importance of supervision of weaponry and ammunition, these breaches must
be treated with particularly gravity.
At the Wye talks it was also agreed that the modalities for granting
weapons licenses, and the categories of persons to be granted such licenses,
would be agreed between the two sides in the Joint Security Committee, as
required by the Security Annex of the Interim Agreement. This commitment was
restated in a letter from Saeb Erakat to the Israeli Cabinet Secretary, dated
November 18, 1998.
However, despite Israeli requests to raise this issue in the Joint Security
Committee, the Palestinian side has refused to discuss it.
Under the Wye Memorandum it was agreed that a trilateral committee
would be established to deal with the unauthorized introduction of weapons and
explosive materials into the Palestinian areas. According to the Time Line, this
committee should not only have met, but also have submitted its first report.
However, although Israel has appointed its representatives to this
committee and requested that it convene, it has still not met.
- Palestinian Police
Under the Wye Time Line, the Palestinian side is obliged to fulfil its
outstanding commitment under the Interim Agreement and transfer a list of
Palestinian policemen to the Israeli side for its approval. In doing so, it should
ensure that the number of policemen does not exceed 30,000, as prescribed by
the Interim Agreement. The size of the Palestinian police is currently
considerably in excess of this number.Notwithstanding repeated statements by the Palestinian side that the list
will “shortly be transferred to Israel”, it has still not been received by the Israeli
side. It should be recalled that the Wye Time Line requires not only that the list
be transferred but also that the Monitoring and Steering Committee commence
its review of this list before the conclusion of the current phase.
- Preventing Incitement
In the Wye Memorandum, the Palestinian side undertook to issue a decree
prohibiting “all forms of incitement to violence and terror” and to establish a
mechanism which would “act systematically against all expressions or threats
of violence or terror”. A decree was published by the Palestinian side on 19
November 1998, and although it makes no reference to terrorism as required by
the Memorandum, and contains a number of legal inconsistencies, it was
welcomed as a positive step by the Israeli side.However, despite the continuing incitement to violence and official
statements that encourage or condone such acts, Israel has yet to see any
implementation whatsoever of the anti-incitement decree published by the
- PLO Charter
Israel was pleased to note that at a meeting in Gaza on 14 December
1998, the PNC adopted a resolution amending the PLO charter, as required by
its outstanding obligations from: the exchange of letters between Chairman
Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin dated September 1993, the exchange of letters
attached to the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of May 1994, the Interim Agreement
of September 1995 and the Note for the Record attached to the Hebron
Protocol of January 1997.
- Unilateral Actions
The Wye Memorandum restates the prohibition established in the previous
Israeli-Palestinian agreements against initiating or taking any step which will
change the status of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip.However, notwithstanding the obligation to resolve this issue through
negotiations, the Palestinian side has repeatedly stated its intention to
unilaterally declare an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital in May
Such statements are inconsistent with the provisions of the Wye
Memorandum, with the Interim Agreement, and with the undertaking in
Chairman Arafat’s letter of September 9, 1993, that “all outstanding issues
relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations”.
- Further Redeployment (FRD)
The Wye Memorandum provides for three stages of further redeployment
in the course of the Time Line. Each of these is listed at the end of the relevant
phase and is contingent upon the implementation of the prior Palestinian
commitments within that phase. Upon completion of these commitments Israel
is obliged to implement the FRD obligation. Thus, at the conclusion of the
second phase, ending week 2 of the Time Line, Israel implemented the first
stage of the FRD, transferring 2% of Area C to the status of Area B and 7.1%
of Area B to Area A.
By the conclusion of the phase ending week 6, Israel was to have
implemented the second FRD stage.However, as noted above, significant Palestinian obligations required to
be implemented prior to this stage are still outstanding. Israel awaits
implementation of these commitments so that it can implement its FRD
undertaking on the basis of reciprocity.
While the Wye Memorandum recognizes that the third FRD is to be the
subject of a unilateral Israeli decision, it provides for the establishment of an
Israeli-Palestinian committee to discuss matters relating to this issue. Israel has
notified the Palestinian side of its representatives to this committee, but the
committee has not yet been convened.
- Release of Prisoners
The release of prisoners by Israel was not specifically included in the Wye
Memorandum, but it was agreed that 750 prisoners would be released in three
phases. Israel has released prisoners in full compliance with both the Wye
understanding and the Interim Agreement, and with Israel’s clear statement at
the Wye talks that it would not release prisoners that were members of the
Hamas or Islamic Jihad organizations or who have blood on the hands.Although the provisions of the Interim Agreement and the Wye
understanding on this issue are perfectly clear, the Palestinian side has raised
new demands, insisting on the release of terrorists with blood on their hands,
which have no basis in any of the agreements between the two sides.
Moreover, rather than condemn or seek to calm the violent demonstrations that
have been fomented over this issue, Palestinian leaders have condoned and
even encouraged such violence.
- Interim Committees and Economic Issues
The Wye Memorandum provided that the parties would reactivate all
standing committees established by the Interim Agreement, and specified in
particular the Monitoring and Steering Committee, the Joint Economic
Committee, the Civil Affairs Committee, the Legal Committee and the Standing
Cooperation Committee.All of these have met on a regular basis since the entry of the
Memorandum into force, except for the Legal Committee and the Standing
Cooperation Committee, both of which, despite repeated Israeli calls, the
Palestinian side has refused to convene.
The current status of the various interim committees is as follows:
- Gaza Airport Committee
The Committee has completed its work. The protocol on Gaza Airport was
signed on 20 November 1998, and the airport was officially opened on 24
November 1998. Technical issues relating to the airport continue to be dealt
with on a professional basis between the two sides.Israel has expressed particular concern over a recent incident in which
Palestinian officials refused to undergo security inspections as agreed in the
Airport Protocol, and has stated that should such an incident recur, it will not
be able to continue to permit the airport to function.
- Gaza Industrial Estate
Following the conclusion of the negotiations between the two sides, the
Karni commercial crossing point was opened on 14 December 1998. Israel now
awaits Palestinian confirmation that the industrial estate is ready to commence
- Gaza Port
The negotiations on this issue continue with seven rounds of negotiations
having taken place since the signing of the Wye Memorandum. The key issues
requiring resolution relate to security responsibilities concerning incoming
vessels and in the port area. A number of constructive new proposals are under
- Safe Passage
The two sides have continued to negotiate this issue and have had five
rounds of negotiations since Wye. The Wye Memorandum provided that the
two sides would make best efforts to conclude the safe passage agreement in
relation to the southern route within a week of the entry into force of the
Memorandum and start operation of this route as soon as possible thereafter.But although the protocol on safe passage is virtually complete, the
Palestinian side has gone back on a number of practical arrangements that were
agreed in the Wye talks and, in direct contravention of the Wye Memorandum,
insists on dealing with issues relating to the northern route prior to the opening
of the southern route.
- Standing Cooperation Committee (“People to People”)
Hundreds of practical projects designed to break down barriers between
the two sides are actually happening in the field but, despite repeated Israeli
requests, the Palestinian side has not agreed to convene this committee.
- Joint Economic Committee
As provided by the Wye Memorandum, the JEC has established an ad hoc
committee. It has held five rounds of talks to date, dealing with four key issues
- Car thefts from Israel to the areas under Palestinian jurisdiction – a joint
task force of the Israeli and Palestinian police has been established to deal with
- Repayment of Palestinian debts – Palestinian undertakings have been
received to repay a number of outstanding debts (telephone, water and hospital
- Expansion of the A1 and A2 lists set out in the Paris Economic Protocol –
Israel has agreed to expand the list relating to trade with Jordan and Egypt;
discussion on the extent of this expansion continues.
- Purchase tax – Israel has agreed to the Palestinian request for a refund of
purchase tax on Israeli products.
- Legal Committee
Israel has received no response to its repeated requests to convene the
Legal Committee in accordance with Article III of the Memorandum.
- Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee
This committee, established by the Wye Memorandum to monitor and
prevent incitement, has met four times to date. Very little of substance has
been achieved, primarily because of the insistence of the Palestinian side on
including discussions of settlements, prisoner releases and other issues dealt
with in other fora of negotiations.The Palestinian side has yet to investigate or respond to any of the many
examples of incitement to violence provided by the Israeli side, and despite
Israeli concerns about frequent calls to Jihad and the use of violence in
Palestinian textbooks, refuses to discuss the issue of incitement within the
- Civil Affairs Committee and Civilian Sub-Committees
These committees continue to operate to resolve issues arising from the
transfer of Israeli civilian responsibilities to the Palestinian side, and have held
tens of meetings since the conclusion of the Wye Memorandum. Regular
meetings are held at the professional level to deal with such issues as water,
electricity and the environment, as well as the population registry in the