Government of Israel Decision on the Wye River Memorandum
(November 11, 1998)
Badkground Information

The purpose of the Wye River Memorandum is to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and other related agreements. The Memorandum is based on two fundamental principles: security and reciprocity. Towards these ends, it contains a precise timetable for implementation and introduces a series of checks and balances to the peace process.

The position of the Government of Israel is clear: Israel is willing to fulfill all the commitments it has undertaken, however, Israel’s actions will depend on the Palestinians first fulfilling their obligations completely in each stage. In the Memorandum, the Palestinians gave clear commitments regarding substantitive issues, commitments that, for the most part, had been made in previous agreements, but have yet to be implemented.

Since the start of the Wye negotiations, events have occurred and statements have been made which concern the Government of Israel.

1) In the period between the Wye negotiations and the approval of the Memorandum by the Government of Israel, four terrorist attacks occurred in which Israelis were killed and wounded. The timing and location of the attacks carried the potential for even a far greater number of casualties, including scores of children.

2) Moreover, recent statements by high-ranking Palestinian officials might indicate an intention to evade commitments they undertook in the Wye Memorandum. Senior Palestinian Authority officials have made statements which substantially contradict the terms of the Memorandum regarding such issues as:

* The unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state: Chairman Arafat repeatedly stated (14/11 and 15/11) his intention to declare an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on May 4th, 1999. Moreover, in his November 15th speech, Chairman Arafat also mentioned the use of force.

* The required changes in the Palestinian National Covenant: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Abu Alaa, among other statements, said respectively that the meeting of the Palestinian National Council and the other Palestinian organizations "is intended only to listen to the speech of President Clinton, and there will be no vote" (4/11) and "we shall not convene the Palestinian National Council to change the Covenant" (6/11).

* The arrest and punishment of persons suspected of involvement in terrorist operations and in violence against Israel and Israelis: PA Minister Dr. Nabil Sha’ath said in an interview to "Voice of Israel in Arabic" that "the Palestinians will not listen to the Israeli Security Forces’ instructions regarding who to arrest" (5/11).

* Additional statements in the official Palestinian media which contradict, both in letter and in word, matters agreed upon in the Wye Memorandum include worrisome comments about confiscation of illegal arms, the required reduction in the size of the Palestinian police (26/10) and inciteful statements about Israelis and the Jewish people (26/10).

In its decision to approve the Wye River Memorandum (11/11), the Government of Israel took into account these statements and events, and included in its decision several elements designed to ensure an accurate and thorough implementation of the Memorandum.

The Government’s decision reaffirms the basic principles of the Memorandum, among them security and reciprocity, and is entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Wye Memorandum.