December 17, 1998
In recent weeks, the media has reported that the joint Israel-Palestinian committees on the interim agreement have been inactive. In order to give a more accurate account, following is an update on the many meetings that have taken place:
In the past month alone, there have been 19 separate meetings of the different committees on the interim agreement, not including sessions of the sub-committees. These 19 meetings include sessions of the monitoring and steering committee, the trilateral security committee, and the committees on Gaza port, safe passage, anti-incitement, and economic affairs.
Among the meetings that have taken place since November 19th:
- The monitoring and steering committee has convened three times, and an additional meeting is planned in the upcoming days.
- The Gaza port committee has held three meetings, most recently on December 11th. The committee is continuing to examine creative ideas to conclude the negotiations.
- The safe passage committee met twice last week.
- The Israeli-Palestinian-U.S. trilateral anti-incitement committee has convened four times since its inception.
- The trilateral security committee has held two meetings, discussing a variety of security issues.
- The ad-hoc economic committee has met three times and the last meeting was held on Tuesday, December 16th, in Ramallah.
It is important to note that both the Karni Industrial Park committee and the Gaza Airport committee have concluded their work, resulting in the openings of the industrial park and the airport during this week’s visit of the President of the United States.
As a result of Palestinian refusal, and despite Israel’s repeated requests, two committees have not met for more than a year – the legal committee and the standing cooperation committee which deals, among other issues, with "people-to people" programmes.
In addition to these bilateral and trilateral sessions, Israel has been conducting continuous preparatory work in which the Israeli teams hold staff meetings, as well as consultations with the Foreign Minister and senior government officials, in order to best advance the negotiations in the above mentioned areas.