Jerusalem, 5 November 1998


(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The cabinet is today (Thursday) 5.11.98, discussing the Wye Memorandum, and it is possible that the debate will continue tomorrow.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to establish a special ministerial committee headed by Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai and consisting of Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, Immigration and Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein, Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan, and Education Minister Yitzhak Levy. The committee will meet for three days and examine the maps and present the various positions of experts and settlers in Judea and Samaria. The intention is to vote on the agreement before the ministerial committee completes its work.

The Prime Minister argued that the establishment of the committee was necessary due to the crucial importance of the issues at stake to so many people, even after the map was drawn up by the most professional bodies, and then examined in over 4000 rigidly tested computer simulations.

* * *

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this afternoon (Thursday), 5.11.98, finished presenting the Wye River Memorandum to the cabinet. In addition to addressing the issue of the Palestinian National Council’s convening to annul the Palestinian Charter, the imprisonment of wanted terrorists and the American guarantees, the prime minister emphasized the redeployment phases and Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners.

1. Regarding Palestinian prisoners:

The Palestinians demanded the release of 3,500 prisoners, including 1,000 security prisoners.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that it was ultimately decided that 750 prisoners would be released, as follows:

* Fewer than 200 prisoners who do not have blood on their hands and who are not Hamas members.

* The rest (about 550) are prisoners in other categories.

2. The redeployments:

* 2% in a first phase.

* 8% in a second phase.

* 3% will be a nature reserve.

The cabinet intends to decide that the scope of the third redeployment will be no more than 1%. This is based on the American letter of clarification, according to which the Israeli government has the authority to make this decision.

The United States has given its assurance not to raise a counter-proposal.

* Note: Israel has sole authority to determine what areas will be transferred in each redeployment.

* The Palestinians have not seen the maps.