POLICY STATEMENT PRESENTED BY PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN TO THE KNESSET ON THE GAZA-JERICHO AGREEMENT

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset,

In three weeks, the State of Israel will mark the 27th anniversary of the Six-Day War. A generation has passed since that summer morning on June 5, 1967 when the order ‘red sheet’ dispatched aircraft, tanks and infantry in a just and defensive war, whose military accomplishments were among the greatest in Jewish history. At the conclusion of the war, during which 800 of our best sons and daughters fell, IDF forces reached the banks of the Suez Canal, the edge of the Jordan River and the peaks of the Golan Heights.

It is often said that defeat is an orphan and that victory has many partners. Hundreds of thousands of IDF soldiers were partners to the great victory of the Six-Day War, and each of them deserves our thanks and respect also today, for removing the danger of extinction from the gates of our homes.

Two men who were the chief partners in this great victory, and in shaping the character of the State of Israel in the following years, were Haim Bar- Lev and Aharon Yariv. This week, we accompanied them to their final resting place. Haim Bar-Lev and Aharale Yariv had much in common: both were of the same generation, the generation that struggled to create the State and the generation that built it from its foundations. Both Haim Bar-Lev and Aharale Yariv served the State in its difficult hours as soldiers, as commanders, as Knesset members, as ministers. They always served the public as its emissaries.

Haim Bar-Lev, Chief-of-Staff during the War of Attrition, was one of the best IDF commanders of all time and was recognized for the greatness of his command, during the War of Attrition and during the bitter moments of the Yom Kippur War. Aharon Yariv, an officer and a gentleman, served as the head of the Intelligence Branch during the Six-Day War. As Chief-of-Staff during those days of battle, I must say that the intelligence was perfect, the dream of every commander. Then, the IDF knew almost everything about the Arab armies. It should only be that way always. The role of the Intelligence branch, headed by Aharale Yariv, was decisive in the great victory of the Six-Day War.

Slowly, our friends are departing the land of the living, and we painfully take leave of them. A generation is disappearing; a generation which, in the glorious history of the State, will be enshrined as the ‘builders and protectors of the State of Israel.’ It was, and is still, a great privilege to belong to this small group, of which Haim Bar-Lev and Aharon Yariv were leading sons. It was about them and those like them that Natan Alterman wrote: ‘They carried their People on their shoulders.’ In your name, Members of Knesset, and in the name of the Government, we offer our condolences to the Bar-Lev and Yariv families.

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset, About half the residents of Israel today were not with us during the Six-Day War. They were born, or immigrated to Israel, to a new map, sketched in war by IDF soldiers and to new and different relations with the Palestinians, Arab countries and nations of the world, following the results of this war. At the conclusion of the Six-Day War, Israeli lines of defense extended along the Suez Canal, on the Golan Heights and along the Jordan River. Even today, within the framework of a military administration, we are responsible for administering the lives of 1,800,000 Palestinian civilians who never wanted our rule, and have done everything possible to attack us. For 27 years, we have ruled another people without any serious attempt to solve the problem, but we have tried to provide for them. We have managed their lives, and we sought to protect our lives.

Over the years, all Governments of Israel of both the Alignment, Labor, and of the Likud have not seen fit to annex the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria. Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir did not annex the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to the State of Israel. After the Six-Day War, in June 1967, Jerusalem was unified and Israeli law was extended to united Jerusalem the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the very heart of the Jewish people. It is not a coincidence that the territories were not annexed, even when the country and the Government were led by supporters of the Greater Israel policy. Alignment and Labor governments knew then, and know today, that the annexation of 1,800,000 Palestinians would cause the State of Israel to lose its Jewish and democratic character.

Mr. Speaker, The current government, headed by the Labor party, went to elections and emerged with the upper hand promising to make a serious effort, not merely paying lip service, to achieving peace; to put an end to wars; to try and end 100 years of hostility. The current government decided to take a first, important and brave step to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to give peaceful co-existence a chance. We believe that the two peoples can live together in security and peace alongside each other, on the same piece of land. This is what we thought; this is what we spoke about; this is what we promised, and; this is what we will do.

On September 13, 1993, the Declaration of Principles was signed in Washington between the Government of Israel and the PLO on the establishment of Palestinian self-administration one can call it autonomy in the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, as a five-year interim arrangement, and as a prelude to negotiations on the permanent solution. The Declaration of Principles determined that, during the first phase, the interim agreement would apply to the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area.

One month after the signing of the Declaration of Principles, negotiations were begun in Taba between Israeli and PLO delegations on the implementation of the first stage the Gaza-Jericho phase of the interim arrangement.

The negotiations on Gaza-Jericho were conducted in four issue spheres: – the security sphere: which I will detail primarily; – the civilian sphere: the transfer of authority from the Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority; – the legal sphere: the definition of the legal infrastructure, rules of legislation and legal powers within the territory of the Palestinian Authority, and relations with Israel in this sphere, and; – the economic sphere: about which discussions were held in Paris, and which determined the network of economic relations between the Palestinian self-rule authority and the State of Israel.

The negotiations on Gaza-Jericho experienced many difficulties, mainly relating to security and to Israel’s insistence on arrangements that will allow it to exercise its responsibility over external security, the security of Israelis and the security of Israeli communities about which we stood firm: no community will be uprooted. The negotiations were completed after seven months of discussions, and the Gaza-Jericho Agreement was signed in Cairo last week, on May 4, 1994.

Today, the Government presented Members of Knesset with the Hebrew and English texts of the agreement, and the accompanying maps. We arranged for detailed maps to be displayed in the room of the Defense and Foreign Affairs committee, and for a senior officer to explain them to Members of Knesset. There is no secret agreement. There are no annexes that have not been released. Everything is open and on the table.

To the Members of Knesset and, through them, to the citizens of Israel

I must say that, throughout the long and exhausting discussions which lasted into the night, which lasted for many weeks, we were insistent and stood firm primarily concerning the security needs of the State of Israel and its citizens, out of a desire to free ourselves from managing the lives of the Palestinians and from endangering IDF soldiers in Gaza. This was our foremost concern.

Members of Knesset, What is in this agreement? The Declaration of Principles determines that, during the interim period, the State of Israel will continue to bear responsibility for defense against external threats, for overall security and for the public order of all Israelis and all Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. It was determined and decided that the jurisdiction of the Palestinian authority will not include external security, the security of Israelis, the security of the Israeli communities, foreign relations and other matters.

How will we ensure this? We will do this through various means: with inspection mechanisms along the borders and thoroughfares, at the points of passage between the Autonomy areas or the Palestinian authority and Israel, and at border crossings; by controlling the air and maritime spaces; with joint patrols; with the liaison and coordination apparatus, and; with the redeployment of the IDF inside and near the Israeli communities. All this has been anchored in the Gaza-Jericho agreement. It leaves Israel all the vital tools to best provide for its security needs during the new reality to be created on the ground. Obviously, all this goes beyond the mutual interest and responsibility in the Declaration of Principles and in the Gaza-Jericho agreement toward co-existence in peace and security, the prevention of terror, crime and violence, coordination and cooperation arrangements.

To what does the agreement apply? The Gaza-Jericho agreement applies to all of the Gaza Strip in its entirety and to a defined area surrounding the city of Jericho. In these two areas, the zones to remain under Israeli responsibility have been defined. The maps of the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area, which are annexed to the agreement, and which are an inseparable part of it, illustrate the various areas. According to the agreement, the IDF will begin evacuating its forces from the autonomous areas or Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area upon the signing of the accord completing its redeployment within three weeks, perhaps even less. In order to meet this tight schedule, the IDF began preparations for the withdrawal and redeployment even before the end of the negotiations. The redeployment will apparently be concluded within a few days.

Members of Knesset, There is no agreement with which we can all be pleased. There can be no agreement without compromises and concessions from both parties if we want it to be observed by both parties. And there is no agreement which does not entail certain risks. This is true also of the agreement before you. At the same time, we are convinced that under these new conditions we have achieved the most possible in all matters relating to security. And anyone who reads the details of the agreement, and who is honest with himself, must at least admit that the concern for the security of the State of Israel and for the Israelis and the Israeli communities is expressed in every line and word.

What is in the agreement? With your permission, I will go into detail: – The agreement gives Israel complete authority in all matters pertaining to responding to external threats. And don’t forget, external threats, armed external threats are the only threats to the existence of Israel. – Israel will continue to militarily control a continuous area along the entire border with Egypt which will recognize only our authority. – The Jericho area does not come close to the security area held by the IDF along the Jordan River. – Complete control over the air space remains in our hands. – Also security control over the sea remains in our hands. – The Palestinians police authority in civilian matters has various limitations. – Israelis will operate the international crossing points. Israel will control the entry of people into the territories, including the Palestinian sector.

What else is in the Agreement? The agreement also includes arrangements for reasonable protection of the communities and their residents: – ‘Blocs’ of communities, that is to say communities which can be connected together in blocs, will allow joint protection of most of the residents in the Gaza Strip, except for two isolated communities. Of course, the IDF will be in position along the whole of the common security fence surrounding the bloc for its protection. – Israel has full operational authority allowing it do what is necessary to ensure the security of Israelis travelling on the principle routes leading to the communities and the adjacent areas. – The community blocs also include Palestinian land in which Israel has full security authority. This land surrounds the communities, which we call and which on the maps is marked as the ‘Yellow areas’. In these areas there are also restrictions on construction and other matters. – Free Israeli movement without interference on important routes under Palestinian security authority will be guaranteed by joint patrols (for example the Jericho route and the Netzarim-Gush Katif route).

What else is included in the agreement? The agreement includes arrangements ensuring effective security operations along the lines between Gaza, Israel and the communities in Gaza. Security parameters are defined in the framework of these parameters in these areas as well. Certain limitations on construction and control over the entry of weapons have been imposed. – The Palestinian police have no authority over Israelis. – The size, weaponry, and disposition of Palestinian police have been agreed upon. – The introduction of weapons beyond the limits set will be prohibited. – We will review the Palestinian police, and only those police whom we approve will be permitted to enter. – A joint operations and cooperation system with the Palestinian police has been established.

The Palestinians have obligated themselves to act to prevent terror against Israelis, obviously in the areas under their control. We are aware of the fact that terror will not cease and will continue to harm our people. We hope that with the start of Palestinian control of the Gaza and Jericho areas, they will also act to prevent terror or at the very least significantly minimize the damage. We see this as the primary test for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police created by the agreement.

I bring this before you, and will also expand on a number of the points contained in the agreement:

– Articles in the agreement concerning the Palestinian police stress the setting of clear rules for their activities. This is in order to prevent friction and to ensure that the Palestinian Police, both in terms of the number of members and the amounts and types of weapons and equipment, will be used for police work exclusively and will prevent attacks against Israelis.

– An appropriate system of regional and local liaison committees currently being established, will ensure coordination and cooperation between the parties on a continuing basis day and night, in order to guarantee an immediate response to every problem and to facilitate coordination between the Palestinian police and the Israeli security elements responsible for over-all security, as well as the security of Israelis and the residents of [Israeli] communities.

The Gaza-Jericho agreement contains regulations on the Temporary International Presence in the areas of the Gaza Strip and Jericho, which will be detailed only after a certain period of time. This body will consist of 400 people to come from five or six countries, and to be funded by ‘donor countries.’ This body will function for an initial period of one-half year.

In an effort to create a positive atmosphere and a basis of mutual trust between the parties, Israel has agreed to release about 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees or to transfer them to the Palestinian Authority. They will include those who have not caused physical harm to Israelis. Those arrested for terrorist activities carried out since the agreement was signed on September 13, 1993 will not be among those released. Prisoners of rejectionist organizations to be released will be required to sign a statement of support for the Declaration of Principles and of their [intention to] refrain from violence and terror. Until today, over 400 of these have not signed, and have not been released. Prisoners affiliated with organizations which explicitly oppose peace, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will not be released.

Members of Knesset, The agreement is very complex and goes into great detail. It is almost impossible that there will not be misunderstandings and tension at first. Over time, we will learn from the reality created on the ground so that we can live together.

– The civilian annex of the agreement includes the establishment of a Joint Coordination and Cooperation Committee, which is to coordinate the transfer of civilian authority and enable daily contacts between civilian elements on both sides. This committee is intended to solve problems that will arise in connection with the joint use of roads, electric and telephone lines, cooperation in dealing with problems that arise at the points of passage into the Gaza and Jericho areas, both from outside the borders, and from inside and outside Israel.

Members of Knesset, In hundreds of pages, hundreds of paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, the agreement attempts to encompass an entire world of relations between two peoples. The civilian annex, for example, details 38 spheres in which civil authority is transferred from the Israeli Civil Administration to the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and Jericho area. In some of these spheres, all management and administrative authority is transferred, and in others such as religious affairs, archeology, water, electricity, planning and construction, telecommunications, mail and population registration authority is transferred subject to certain limitations, in order to preserve vital Israeli interests and in order to ensure the continued supply of energy, water, communications and free access for Israeli communities.

Members of Knesset, I must emphasize, in light of what has occurred in recent days, that in the sphere of religious affairs, free access to Jewish holy sites is ensured. In the sphere of archeology, protection and preservation of all the sites in the Gaza Strip and Jericho region are ensured. Similarly, there will be free access to these sites. A joint committee of archeological experts will be set up which will deal with subjects of common interest, as well as with anything which may influence these Jewish sites. In the sphere of the environment, high standards have been set, which reflect international standards and which I will not describe in detail.

Members of Knesset, If all this were not enough, the agreement also establishes that the Palestinians, residents of the Gaza Strip and Jericho region, will be provided with identity cards written in Arabic and Hebrew, on the basis of the existing population registry, which will be updated by computer on an ongoing basis with Israel. Here, I would like to emphasize: the population registry of Palestinians from outside, as well as granting permits to visit to Palestinians from outside [the Autonomy area], are subject to Israel’s approval.

The infrastructure of Israeli communities and IDF installations in the Gaza Strip, electricity, water, telephones and the Israeli infrastructure which cross the Jericho region, will continue to be maintained by Israel, through the Israel Electric Corporation, Mekorot and Bezeq. Ensuring these essential services to communities and IDF positions will, therefore, be independent of the Palestinian Authority.

– The third annex of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement is the legal annex. It deals with all questions relating to legal authority, criminal and civil, and to legal assistance between the judicial authorities of the Israelis and the Palestinians. The legal annex establishes that the Palestinian Authority will not I repeat, not have authority over Israelis and Israeli communities, and the area of military installations. As a result, Palestinian policemen will not be able to arrest Israelis and the Palestinian courts will not be able to try them. Authority in this matter will continue to be in Israel’s hands alone.

Moreover, Israel will be able to question Palestinians who attack, or try to attack, Israelis in the areas under Israeli responsibility, and who are caught by Israeli security forces. The decision on whether these offenders will be tried in Israel or by the Palestinian Authority, will be made by both sides, on a case by case basis. I must note here, that even in the event of an offense committed by an Israeli inside the area under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, such as in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for guarding the suspect, and alerting the Israeli authorities who are the only the only ones who have the authority to arrest and hold him.

– The fourth and final annex to the agreement deals with the economic relations between Israel and the Gaza Strip and Jericho areas, and details the import policy, import taxation, monetary and financial policy, direct and indirect taxation, and the economic aspects of employment, agriculture, industry, tourism, and vehicle insurance. Thus, for example, control over the entry of goods to the territories via the border crossings in Jordan and Gaza will be held jointly by Israeli and Palestinian customs officials. Control over the entry of personal baggage of travelers entering the territories via the crossing points will be done by Palestinian customs officials, in the unseen presence of Israeli customs officials who will be permitted to examine the baggage if they so desire.

The Israeli shekel will continue to be one of the currencies used as a means of payment in the territories. The Palestinian Authority and its institutions, local authorities and banks, will be obligated to accept it as a means of payment. Discussions regarding the issuance of a Palestinian currency will continue in the framework of the economic committee. In the meantime, there is no such currency.

I will not detail the conditions concerning tourism sites, which I view as having the greatest importance, since tourism can perhaps serve as one of the best means to achieve greater mutual acquaintance, and greater mutual recognition. They are of common interest to both sides.

In the sphere of employment, there will be regular movement of workers between the sides, subject to our right and theirs, to determine its scope, and subject to legislation. The employment of workers in Israel will be only through the Israeli Employment Service.

Much ink, many words, many headlines, have been written in recent days about one of the agreement’s paragraphs, the one which discusses the return to the territories of those who were displaced. I have heard and read many incorrect things, I would say even lies, misrepresentations, and I have no complaints except concerning those who knowingly made use of this information for false purposes.

Here is the truth, the whole truth, regarding the return of those who were displaced: The Gaza-Jericho Agreement establishes that a liaison committee will be set up with the participation of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt, in order to handle subjects of mutual interest, as well as in order to determine agreed upon principles for the entry of people who left Judea and Samaria in 1967. Please note: there is no reference here to 1948 refugees; only to those displaced in 1967.

Now, I will reveal a secret to the Members of Knesset and the citizens of Israel who do not know this: this paragraph was copied exactly from the Camp David Accord, which was written and signed by the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. This paragraph does not determine how many people will be permitted to return to Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and all the numbers which have been tossed out on this matter are simply made up. The paragraph determines that all decisions in this sphere must be made unanimously by all members of the committee. In other words, without Israel’s agreement, the committee cannot determine how many people will enter and in what stages. The paragraph also determines that the committee should establish the means required to prevent chaos and disorder. This addition was also taken from the Camp David Accord, and here we owe thanks to then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. It is intended to be a means of control which will ensure that people are not permitted to enter the region without their first being assured of proper housing and means of sustenance.

Members of Knesset, I wish to bring to your attention that attached to the Gaza-Jericho Agreement is an accompanying letter from the PLO Chairman to the Israeli Prime Minister, in which the PLO undertakes, among other things, to ensure that the Palestinian Authority, and all its subordinate organizations, acts in accordance with the agreement. The PLO also undertakes to cooperate in locating missing IDF soldiers. In this letter, the PLO Chairman also affirms the intention to present to the next session of the Palestine National Council the changes to the Palestine Charter, which he undertook to do in the Declaration of Principles. Both sides also undertook, in an exchange of letters, not to change the status of Gaza and Jericho in the interim period, and to refrain from [issuing] hostile propaganda against each other. In the same letter, the sides agreed to continue the negotiations on the subjects which remain open, including the size of the Jericho region, the issue of stationing a Palestinian official at the Allenby Bridge, and additional arrangements at the Rafiah terminal.

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset, The agreement, in its entirety, has been place on your desks. We believe that it is a good agreement good for us, and good for the Palestinians and thus also contains the chance for its success.

Members of Knesset, This is the time to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of IDF soldiers, General Security Service personnel, the Border Police, Israel Police and employees of the Civil Administration, who, for a generation, have performed loyal and difficult, exhausting an dangerous work in the Gaza and Jericho areas. I unhesitatingly state that there is no other people in the world no nation, no tribe which produces such sons and daughters as these, which demands from them strength and might in the defense of us all, in such a difficult and complex situation. There are no words to adequately express the thanks, the honor, which these wonderful people deserve.

I will view with great satisfaction the exit of IDF troops from Gaza [City], Jabaliyah, Shatti, the Nusseirat and Bureij refugee camps, Dir al- Balah, Khan Yunis, Rafiah. There is nothing for them to do there, and no one has the right to risk their lives in order to be there. I am proud that this Government is disengaging from Shatti, from Jabaliyah, from Nusseirat, from Bureij, from Gaza.

This is also the time and place to recall the memory of the dozens of soldiers and civilians who fell in the Gaza and Jericho areas, fighters who performed their duty there and civilians who paid with their lives simply because they were Jews and Israelis. We remember them with love: the children of Friti and Bob Arroyo, Amnon Pomerantz, Rachel Weiss and her three children, Shahar Ginossar and Ibrahim Shabal; Meir Mintz and Gal Avinoam, Doron Shorshan and Adnan Boad; Rabbi Shimon Biran and As’ad Wafa; Baruch Ben-Shimon, Doron Darzi, and many others whose names have not been mentioned here today. For them, for their relatives who will not forget until their final day, for the fathers and the mothers, the wives and children which they left behind, this agreement has come too late. We recall their memory with love, and believe and hope that their terrible sacrifice will not have been in vain. May it be God’s will. And this is the place to wish a speedy recovery to the injured and crippled who have been wounded over the course of a generation, many of whom are even now struggling with their pain and scars.

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset, In an attempt to break the circle of murder, in an attempt to cease this unending crusade of blood and to bring security and peace to us and to them, we have taken the first step which we believe and hope will lead us and our Palestinian neighbors to rest and tranquility, even if the road is still long. We did not do this lightheartedly, or without concern. We believed, and continue to believe, that we have done the right thing, for the children and the grandchildren of both peoples, for the peace that will come. I ask that the Knesset record the Government’s statement.