Wye River Memorandum

« Wye One »: an agreement for the implementation of the Oslo II Agreement

The Israeli-Palestinian agreement called « Wye River Memorandum » or « Wye Plantation Memorandum » was concluded on 23 October 1998 in Wye Plantation (Maryland) between the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Yasser Arafat under the auspices of the American President Bill Clinton. This agreement aimed at relaunching and completing the implementation of the Oslo II Agreement interrupted more than one year ago. It will also lead to the resumption of the talks on the final status of the Palestinian territories.

This text foresaw the withdrawal in several stages of the Israeli army from 13% of the West Bank after i.a. the revision of the PLO Charter, the opening of an airport in Gaza, a « safe corridor » between the gaza Strip and the West Bank, anti-terrorist repression, reduction of the number of Palestinian police forces and the liberation by Israel of some Palestinian prisoners.

The implementation of the agreement was stopped by Mr Netanyahu on Nov. 2, 1998 (the very day when its implementation was supposed to start), under the argument that it would not be binding until its formal approval by the Israeli Cabinet and by the Knesset. Mr Arafat, who from his part submitted to the Americans the promised anti-terrorists plan, has conspicuoulsy refused to criticize this unexpected delay.

The ratification by the Israeli Cabinet was assorted of a series of new conditions. These include :

  • spelling out the internal procedure the Palestinians must use to revise their charter;
  • revision of the situation by the Israeli cabinet before the other withdrawal stages in the scheduled 12 week process to determine if the Palestinians are fulfilling their commitments;
  • an announcement that the next Israeli withdrawal, after the pullbacks sets in the Wye Memorandum, would not exceed one percent of the West Bank; and
  • a declaration that Israel will annex any parts of the West Bank still in its control if the Palestinians declare an independant state.

Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu announced the reactivation of his settlements policy in the Palestinian Territories.

On Nov. 20, Israeli troops finally withdraw from part of the West Bank close to the northern town of Jenin carrying out the first stage withdrawal from 2% of the West Bank promised under the Memorandum. It was the first Israeli withdrawal in nearly two years – the last was from the West Bank town of Hebron – and involved the transfer of nearly 200 miles². Another important part of the first phase of the deal, the long-delayed opening of a Palestinian airport in Gaza, took place on Nov. 24.

Despite the ratification of the Wye River agreement by the Knesset, Mr. Netanyahu came under fire from the extreme right and from the religious parties, even in his own government coalition, who objected to any withdrawal from Palestinian territory. He announced that the next phase of withdrawal, on 18 December, would not take place and finally, on 20 December, suspended implementation of the agreement.

The next day, the Knesset voted a motion for early elections and Mr. Netanyahu himself voted « yes ». Anticipative elections took place in May 1999 and were won by the Labour candidate, the « hawk » Ehud Barak, who did not carry out the other redeployments as scheduled in the Wye River agreement, thus causing deep distrust among the PLO and the failure of the Camp David negociations (July 2000) on the « final status » of the occuppied territories.

In principle, as the US declared publicly, the situation of the Israeli government was no reason to suspend the Wye River process. The process was nevertheless stalled until the coming into power of the new Israeli government led by Ehud Barak who took office in July 1999.

« Wye Two »: an agreement for the implementation of the « Wye One » Agreement …

After weeks of tough negociations, an updated version of the Wye River agreement was signed by Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on September 5, 1999. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II were also present to sign the new deal as witnesses. The deal was approved the same day by the Israeli cabinet by a vote of 21 in favour and 2 against (Interior Minister Natan Sharansky (Israel B’Aliyah) and Construction Minister Yitzhak Levy (National Religious Party)). The signing of this agreement came eight month after the freezing of the Wye River memorandum and two months following the inauguraution of Prime Minister’s Barak government.

Under this new Israel-Palestinian agreement also refered to as « Wye Two » or « Sharm-El-Sheikh agreement » or « memorandum », Israel will start immediately relinquishing in three stages another 11 percent of land it holds in the West Bank, completing the withdrawal by January 20, 2000. It will also release some 350 Palestinian political prisonners. Possibly the most important new element in this memorandum is that it extends the commitment of the parties to the existing agreements until September 2000 when « the two sides will conclude a comprehensive agreement on all permanent status issues », settling the most difficult questions of Jerusalem and the Palestinian state.

After a promising start with a first withdrawal on schedule and the opening on 8 November of the final status negociations, difficulties arised again. The second Israeli re-deployment mandated by the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement did not take place in due time on 15 November (the two parties being unable to agreed on the areas to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority) and, with this deadlock persisting, the final status negociations were halted on 5 December by the Palestinian side protesting against the refusal of the Israeli government to freeze the development of the settlements. Regarding this issue, some comments by Mr. Barak’s administration did not help, in particular those saying that it could not legally halt settlement building that was decided by the previous government but that new construction will be concentrated in settlements that Israel plans to retain… The Palestinian view on this issue is that all settlements are illegal and, as it it agreed that this is a point to be negociated, the Israeli side is constantly modifying unilateraly the facts on the ground.


Official and complete text of the original Wye River Memorandum (23-10-1998):

The following are steps to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of September 28, 1995 and other related agreements including the Note for the Record of January 17, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as « the prior agreements ») so that the Israeli and Palestinian sides can more effectively carry out their reciprocal responsibilities, including those relating to further redeployments and security, respectively. These steps are to be carried out in a parallel phased approach in accordance with the Memorandum and the attached time line. They are subject to the relevant terms and conditions of the prior agreements and do not supersede their other requirements.


A. Phase One and Two Further Redeployments

1. Pursuant to the Interim Agreement and subsequent agreements, the Israeli side’s implementation of the first and second F.R.D. will consist of the transfer to the Palestinian side of 13 percent from Area (C) as follows: 1 percent to Area (A); 12 percent to Area (B).

The Palestinian side has informed that it will allocate an area/areas amounting to 3 percent from the above area (B) to be designated as the Green Areas and/or Nature Reserves. The Palestinian side has further informed that they will act according to the established scientific standards, and that therefore there will be no changes to the status of these areas, without prejudice to the rights of existing inhabitants in these areas including Bedouins; while these standards do not allow new construction in these areas, existing roads and buildings may be maintained.

The Israeli side will retain in these Green Areas/Nature Reserves the overriding security responsibility for the purpose of protecting Israelis and confronting the threat of terrorism. Activities and movements of the Palestinian Police forces may be carried out after coordination and confirmation; the Israeli side will respond to such requests expeditiously.

2. As part of the foregoing implementation of the first and second F.R.D., 14.2 percent from Area (B) will become Area (A).

B. Third Phase of Further Redeployments

With regard to the terms of the Interim Agreement and of Secretary Christopher’s letters to the two sides of January 17, 1997, relating to the further redeployment process, there will be a committee to address this question. The United States will be briefed regularly.


In the provisions on security arrangements of the Interim Agreement, the Palestinian side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Israeli side, against individuals falling under the Israeli side’s authority and against their property, just as the Israeli side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities and against their property. The two sides also agreed to take legal measures against within their jurisdiction and to prevent incitement against each other by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction.

Both sides recognize that it is in their vital interests to combat terrorism and fight violence in accord with Annex I of the Interim Agreement and the Note for the Record. They also recognize that the struggle against terror and violence must be comprehensive in that it deals with terrorists, the terror support structure and the environment conducive to the support of terror. It must be continuous and constant over a long-term, in that there can be no pauses in the work against terrorists and their structure. It must be cooperative in that no effort can be fully effective without Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and the continuous exchange of information, concepts and actions.

Pursuant to the prior agreements, the Palestinian side’s implementation of its responsibilities for security, security cooperation, and other issues will be as detailed below during the time periods specified in the attached time line.

A. Security Actions

1. Outlawing and Combatting Terrorist Organizations

a. The Palestinian side will make known its policy for zero tolerance for terror and violence against both sides.

b. A work plan developed by the Palestinian side will be shared with the U.S. and hereafter implementation will begin immediately to ensure the systematic and effective combat of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure.

c. In addition to the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a U.S.-Palestinian committee will meet biweekly to review the steps being taken to eliminate terrorist cells and the support structure that plans, finances, supplies and abets terror. In these meetings, the Palestinian side will inform the U.S. fully of the actions it has taken to outlaw all organizations (or wings of organizations, as appropriate) of a military, terrorist or violent character and their support structure and to prevent them from operating in areas under its jurisdiction.

d. The Palestinian side will apprehend the specific individuals suspected of perpetrating acts of violence and terror for the purpose of further investigation, and prosecution and punishment of all persons involved in acts of violence and terror.

e. A U.S.-Palestinian committee will meet to review and evaluate information pertinent to the decisions on prosecution, punishment or other legal measures which affect the status of individuals suspected of abetting or perpetrating acts of violence or terror.

2. Prohibiting Illegal Weapons

a. The Palestinian side will ensure an effective legal framework is in place to criminalize, in conformity with the prior agreements, any importation, manufacturing or unlicensed sale, acquisition or possession of firearms, ammunition or weapons in areas under Palestinian jurisdiction.

b. In addition, the Palestinian side will establish and vigorously and continuously implement a systematic program for the collection and appropriate handling of all such illegal items in accordance with the prior agreements. The U.S. has agreed to assist in carrying out this program.

c. A U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee will be established to assist and enhance cooperation in preventing the smuggling or other unauthorized introduction of weapons or explosive materials into areas under Palestinian jurisdiction.

3. Preventing Incitement

a. Drawing on relevant international practice and pursuant to Article XXII (1) of the Interim Agreement and Note for the Record, the Palestinian side will issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror. This decree will be comparable to the existing Israeli legislation which deals with the same subject.

b. A U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee will meet on a regular basis to monitor cases of possible incitement to violence or terror, and to make recommendations and reports on how to prevent such incitement. The Israeli-Palestinian and U.S. sides will each appoint a media specialist, a law enforcement representative, an educational specialist and a current or former elected official to the committee.

B. Security Cooperation

The two sides agree that their security cooperation will be based on a spirit of partnership and will include, among other things, the following steps:

1. Bilateral Cooperation

There will be full bilateral cooperation between the two sides which will be continuous, intensive and comprehensive.

2. Forensic Cooperation

There will be an exchange of forensic expertise, training and other assistance.

3. Trilateral Committee

In addition to the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a high-ranking U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee will meet as required and not less than biweekly to assess current threats, deal with any impediments to effective security cooperation and coordination and address the steps being taken to combat terror and terrorist organizations. The committee will also serve as a forum to address the issue of external support for terror. In these meetings, the Palestinian side will fully inform the members of the committee of the results of its investigations concerning terrorist suspects already in custody and the participants will exchange addition relevant information. The committee will report regularly to the leaders of the two sides on the status of cooperation, the results of the meetings and its recommendations.

C. Other Issues

1. Palestinian Police Force

a. The Palestinian side will provide a list of its policemen to the Israeli side in conformity with the prior agreements.

b. Should the Palestinian side request technical assistance, the U.S. has indicated its willingness to help meet these needs in cooperation with other donors.

c. The Monitoring and Steering Committee will, as part of its functions, monitor the implementation of this provision and brief the U.S.

2. PLO Charter

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council will reaffirm the letter of 22 January 1998 from PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions that are inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel on 9/10 September 1993. PLO Chairman Arafat, the Speaker of the Palestine National Council, and the Speaker of the Palestinian Council will invite the members of the PNC, as well as the members of the Central Council, the Council, and the Palestinian Heads of Ministries to a meeting to be addressed by President Clinton to reaffirm their support for the peace process and the aforementioned decisions of the Executive Committee and the Central Council.

3. Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

Among other forms of legal assistance in criminal matters, the requests for arrest and transfer of suspects and defendants pursuant to Article II (7) of Annex IV of the Interim Agreement will be submitted (or resubmitted) through the mechanism of the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Legal Committee and will be responded to in conformity with Article II (7) (f) of Annex IV of the Interim Agreement within the twelve week period. Requests submitted after the eighth week will be responded to in conformity with Article II (7) (f) within four weeks of their submission. The U.S. has been requested by the sides to report on a regular basis on the steps being taken to respond to the above requests.

4. Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Pursuant of Article XI (1) of Annex I of the Interim Agreement, and without derogating from the above, the Palestinian Police will exercise powers and responsibilities to implement this Memorandum with due regard to internationally accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and will be guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity, and avoid harassment.


1. The Israeli and Palestinian sides reaffirm their commitment to enhancing their relationship and agree on the need actively to promote economic development in the West Bank and Gaza. In this regard, the parties agree to continue or to reactivate all standing committees established by the Interim Agreement, including the Monitoring and Steering Committee, the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), the Civil Affairs Committee (CAC), the Legal Committee and the Standing Cooperation Committee.

2. The Israeli and Palestinian sides have agreed on arrangements which will permit the timely opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate. They also have concluded a « Protocol Regarding the Establishment and Operation of the International Airport in the Gaza Strip During the Interim Period. »

3. Both sides will renew negotiations on the Safe Passage immediately. As regards the southern route, the sides will make best efforts to conclude the agreement within a week of the entry into force of this Memorandum. Operation of the southern route will start as soon as possible thereafter. As regards the northern route, negotiations will continue with the goal of reaching agreement as soon as possible. Implementation will take place expeditiously thereafter.

4. The Israeli and Palestinian sides acknowledge the great importance of the Port of Gaza for the development of the Palestinian economy, and the expansion of Palestinian trade. They commit themselves to proceeding without delay to conclude an agreement to allow the construction and operation of the port in accordance with the prior agreements. The Israeli-Palestinian Committee will reactivate its work immediately with a goal of concluding the protocol within sixty days, which will allow commencement of the construction of the port.

5. The two sides recognize that unresolved legal issues adversely affect the relationship between the two peoples. They therefore will accelerate efforts through the Legal Committee to address outstanding legal issues and to implement solutions to these issues in the shortest possible period. The Palestinian side will provide to the Israeli side copies of all of its laws in effect.

6. The Israeli and Palestinian sides also will launch a strategic economic dialogue to enhance their economic relationship. They will establish within the framework of the JEC an Ad Hoc Committee for this purpose. The committee will review the following four issues: (1) Israeli purchase taxes; (2) cooperation in combating vehicle theft; (3) dealing with unpaid Palestinian debts; and (4) the impact of Israeli standards as barriers to trade and the expansion of A1 and A2 lists. The committee will submit an interim report within three weeks of entry into force of this Memorandum, and within six weeks will submit its conclusions and recommendations to be implemented.

7. The two sides agree on the importance of continued international donor assistance to facilitate implementation by both sides of agreements reached. They also recognize the need for enhanced donor support for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza. They agree to jointly approach the donor community to organize a Ministerial Conference before the end of 1998 to seek pledges of enhanced levels of assistance.


The two sides will immediately resume permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis and will make a determined effort to achieve the mutual goal of reaching an agreement by May 4, 1999. The negotiations will be continuous and without interruption. The U.S. has expressed its willingness to facilitate these negotiations.


Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the interim Agreement.

This Memorandum will enter into force ten days from the date of signature.

Done at Washington D.C. this 23rd day of October 1998.

[End Memorandum]



Note: Parenthetical references below are to paragraphs in « The Wye River Memorandum » to which this time line is an integral attachment. Topics not included in the time line follow the schedule provided for in the text of the Memorandum.

1. Upon Entry into Force of the Memorandum:

– Third furher redeployment committee starts (I(B))

– Palestinian security work plan shared with the U.S. (II)(A)(1)(b)

– Full bilateral security cooperation (II(B)(1))

– Interim committees resume and continue; Ad hoc Economic Committee starts (III)

– Accelerated permanent status negotiations start (IV)

2. Entry into Force – Week 2:

– Security work plan implementation begins (II(A)(1)(b)); (II(A)(1)(c)) committee starts

– Illegal weapons framework in place (II(A)(2)(a)); Palestinian implementation report (II(A)(2))(b))

– Anti-incitement committee starts (II(A)(3)(b)); decree issued (II(A)(3)(a))

– PLO executive committee reaffirms Charter letter (II(C)(2))

– Stage 1 of F.R.D. implementation: 2% C to B, 7.1% B to A. Israeli officials acquaint their Palestinian counterparts as required with areas; F.R.D. carried out; report on F.R.D. implementation (I(A))

3. Weeks 2-6

– Palestinian Central Council reaffirms Charter letter (weeks two to four) (II(C)(2))

– PNC and other PLO organizations reaffirm Charter letter (weeks four to six) (II(C)(2))

– Establishment of weapons collection program (II(A)(2)(b)) and collection stage (II(A)(2)(c)); committee starts and reports on activities

– Anti-incitement committee report (II(A)(3)(b))

– Ad Hoc Economic Committee: interim report at week three; final report at week six (III)

– Policemen list (II(C)(1)(a)); Monitoring and Steering Committee review starts (II(C)(1)(c))

– Stage 2 of F.R.D. implementation: 5% C to B. Israeli officials acquaint their Palestinian counterparts as required with areas; F.R.D. carried out; report on F.R.D. implementation (I(A))

4. Weeks 6-12:

– Weapons collection stage (II(A)(2)(b)); (II(A)(2)(C)) committee report on its activities.

– Anti-incitement committee report (II(A)(3)(b))

– Monitoring and Steering Committee briefs U.S. on policeman list (II(C)(1)(c))

– Stage 3 of F.R.D. implementation: 5% C to B, 1% C to A, 7.1% B to A – Israeli officials acquaint Palestinian counterparts as required with areas; F.R.D. carried out; report on F.R.D. implementation (I(A))

5. After Week 12:

Activities described in the Memorandum continue as appropriate and if necessary, including:

– Trilateral security cooperation committee (II(B)(3))

– (II(A)(1)(c)) committee

– (II(A)(1)(e)) committee

– Anti-incitement committee (II(A)(3)(b))

– Third Phase F.R.D. Committee (I(B))

– Interim Committees (III)

– Accelerated permanent status negotiations (IV.)