Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum was an agreement negotiated between Israel
Palestinian Authority at a summit in Wye River, Maryland,
U.S., held from 15–23 October 1998. The Memorandum aimed to resume
the implementation of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the
West Bank and
Gaza Strip (Oslo II Accord). It was signed in the
White House by
Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, through negotiations led by U.S.
President Bill Clinton, on 23 October 1998. On 17 November 1998
Israel's 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Memorandum
by a vote of 75–19. The Memorandum determined that it would enter
into force on 2 November 1998, ten days from the date of signature.
On 18 December 1998, the Clinton administration and the EU declared
their contentment about the implementation of the first phase of the
Memorandum by both sides. Israel, however, had only implemented
stage 1 of the further redeployment (F.R.D.), meaning that it had
withdrawn from 2% of Area C instead of the required 13%. Both
parties accused each other of not fulfilling its share of
responsibilities under the Wye River Memorandum, and the further
implementation of the agreement remained unfinished.
1 The summit
3.1 Phase one and two of the further redeployments
4.1 A: Security actions
4.1.1 1: Outlawing and combating terrorist organizations
4.1.2 2: Prohibiting illegal weapons
4.1.3 3: Prevention of incitement
4.2 B: Security cooperation
4.2.1 1: Bilateral cooperation
4.2.2 2: Forensic cooperation
4.2.3 3: Trilateral committee
4.3 C: Other security issues
4.3.1 1: Palestinian police force
4.3.3 3: Legal assistance in criminal matters
4.3.4 4: Human rights and the rule of law
5 Economic issues
6 Permanent status negotiations
7 Unilateral actions
8 Political impact in Israel
10 External links
The summit was brokered by the
United States at the Aspen Institute
Wye River Conference Centers near Wye Mills, Maryland, U.S.
Bill Clinton opened the summit at the secluded Wye River
Conference Center on 15 October, and returned at least six times to
the site to press Netanyahu and Arafat to finalize the deal. In the
final push to get Netanyahu and Arafat to overcome remaining
obstacles, Clinton invited
King Hussein who had played a past role in
easing tensions between the two men, to join the talks.
On the final day of the negotiations, the agreement almost fell
through. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu had asked President
Bill Clinton to release Jonathan Pollard, an American naval
intelligence officer who has been serving a life sentence since 1985
for giving classified information to Israel. A bitter disagreement
arose, with Netanyahu claiming that Clinton had promised to release
Pollard, and Clinton saying he had only promised to "review" the case.
It was reported that then-Director of the
George Tenet had
threatened to resign should Pollard be released.
The agreement was finally signed by Netanyahu and
PLO Chairman Yasser
Arafat at the White House, with President Clinton playing a key role
as the official witness.
Yasser Arafat meeting Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos in 1997.
For the implementation of the
Oslo II Accord
Oslo II Accord and to facilitate the
Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank,
Israel and the
Palestinian Authorities signed a number of agreements and protocols.
The documents contained the reciprocal responsibilities, including
those relating to further redeployments and security.
In 1994, the "Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and
Israel and the PLO" was signed. In 1995, the
"Protocol on Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities"
followed. The 1997
Hebron Protocol settled the withdrawal from 80% of
Hebron and its division into two Areas.
West Bank Areas in the Oslo II Accord
The Further Redeployments (F.R.D.) in the
Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum refer
to the three phases in Appendix 1 of Annex I of the Oslo II Accord,
which would follow the previous redeployment from populated areas in
the West Bank. Only the phases 1 and 2 are specified. Phase 3 was
delegated to a "Third further redeployment committee" which was to be
Phase one and two of the further redeployments
The Phases one and two, not specified in the Oslo II Accord, comprised
the transfer to the Palestinians of 13% from Area C and shifts of
parts of Area B to Area A. The redeployment was divided into three
stages, specified in the "Time line".
Stage 1 (November 1998): 2% from Area C to B; 7.1% from B to A
Stage 2 (December 1998): 5% from Area C to B
Stage 3 (January 1999): 5% from Area C to B; 1% from C to A; 7.1% from
B to A
In total, 13% would thus be transferred from Area C. Area B would
increase with 13% and Area A with 14%.
If the Memorandum had been implemented, Area C would theoretically
have been reduced from circa 74% to 61%. Article I, however,
determined that 3% of Area B would be designated as Nature Reserves
with full Israeli control, meaning that the Palestinians would neither
have free access to it, nor could build new constructions. This
specification was a result of a misunderstanding regarding Prime
Minister Netanyahu's "bottom line" for Israeli territorial withdrawal.
He told American negotiator
Dennis Ross he could go as high as the
"lowest teen" in percentage of territory, and Ross persuaded Chairman
Arafat to accept the 13% figure. Later, Netanyahu insisted he had
meant 11% withdrawal, so Ross surfaced the idea of using the nature
reserves to bridge the 11% and 13% figures.
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 directed against the Palestinian side, against
individuals falling under the Palestinian side's authority and against
their property. The two sides also agreed to take legal measures
against offenders within their jurisdiction and to prevent incitement
against each other by any organizations, groups or individuals within
A: Security actions
1: Outlawing and combating terrorist organizations
(a) The Palestinian side was to make known its policy of zero
tolerance for terror and violence against both sides. (b) A work plan
developed by the Palestinian side would be shared with the U.S. and
thereafter implementation would 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 would meet
biweekly to review the steps being taken to eliminate terrorists cells
and the support structure that plans, finances, supplies and abets
terror. (d) The Palestinian side would 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 would 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 and terror.
2: Prohibiting illegal weapons
(a) The Palestinian side would 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 would
establish and vigorously and continuously implement a systematic
program for the collection and appropriate handling of all such
illegal items it accordance with the prior agreements. The U.S. agreed
to assist in carrying out the program. (c) A
U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would 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: Prevention of incitement
(a) The Palestinian side would issue a decree prohibiting all forms of
incitement to violence or terror, and establishing mechanisms for
acting systematically against all expressions or threats of violence
or terror. This decree would be comparable to the existing Israeli
legislation which deals with the same subject. (b) A
U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would 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 would 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 agreed that their security cooperation would be based on
a spirit of partnership and would include, among other things, the
1: Bilateral cooperation
There would be full bilateral security cooperation between the two
sides which would be continuous, intensive and comprehensive.
2: Forensic cooperation
There would be an exchange of forensic expertise, training, and other
3: Trilateral committee
In addition to the bilateral Israeli–Palestinian security
cooperation, a high-ranking U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee
would meet as required and not less than biweekly to assess current
threats to deal with any impediments to effective security cooperation
and coordination and address the steps being taken to combat terror
and terrorist organizations.
C: Other security issues
1: Palestinian police force
(a) The Palestinian side would 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. indicated its
willingness to help meet those needs in cooperation with other donors.
(c) The Monitoring and Steering Committee would, as part of its
functions, monitor the implementation of this provision and brief the
The Executive Committee of the
Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization and
the Palestinian Central Council should reaffirm the letter of 22
January 1998 from
PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat to President Clinton
concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter
provisions that were inconsistent with the letters exchanged between
PLO and the Government of
Israel on 9–10 September 1993.
3: Legal assistance in criminal matters
Among other forms of legal assistance in criminal matters, there were
requests for the arrest and transfer of suspects and defendants. The
United States had 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
Accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and would be
guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity, and
The Israeli and Palestinian sides reaffirmed their commitment to
improve their relationship and agreed on the need to actively promote
economic development in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli and Palestinian sides agreed on arrangements which would
permit the timely opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate.
Both sides should have renewed negotiations on Safe Passage
immediately. Negotiations on the northern route would continue with
the goal of reaching agreement as soon as possible.
The Israeli and Palestinian sides acknowledged the great importance of
the Port of Gaza for the development of the Palestinian economy, and
the expansion of Palestinian trade.
The two sides recognized that unresolved legal issues hurt the
relationship between the two peoples.
The Israeli and Palestinian sides also should launch a strategic
economic dialogue to enhance their economic relationship.
The two sides agreed on the importance of continued international
donor assistance in helping both sides to implement agreements.
Permanent status negotiations
The two sides would 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 4 May 1999.
Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the
negotiations, neither side should initiate or take any step that would
change the status of the
West Bank and the
Gaza Strip in accordance
with the Interim Agreement.
Political impact in Israel
The Wye agreement was broadly popular in Israel, with 74% of Israelis
supporting the agreement according to early-November polling.
However, Prime Minister Netanyahu sensed opposition within his Likud
party and delayed a vote of cabinet approval while he sought public
assurances from the Clinton administration about the implementation of
Wye. Rather than join a national unity government with opposition
leader Ehud Barak, Netanyahu tried to assuage
Likud hardliners by
stopping implementation of Wye in early December over confrontations
between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. Disapproval of
Netanyahu's policies from Barak's Labor Party and the
resulted in a vote of no confidence against his government that
prompted general elections in May 1999; Barak was victorious and
pledged to continue the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.
^ Gellman, Barton (24 October 1998). "Netanyahu, Arafat Sign Accord;
Talks Nearly Founder After
Israel Demands Convicted Spy's Release".
The Washington Post. p. A1.
^ US-EU Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process. US State
Department, 18 December 1998
We welcome implementation of the first phase of the Memorandum by both
sides. We call on the parties to implement fully the remaining
^ What Was the 1999 Sharm al-Sheikh Memorandum?. ProCon, 19 May 2008
^ "The demise of the Oslo process". Archived from the original on 16
August 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2000. Check date values in:
access-date= (help)CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) . Joel Beinin, MERIP,
26 March 1999.
^ Ross, Dennis (2004). The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the
Fight for Middle East Peace. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
p. 237. ISBN 0-374-19973-6.
^ a b c The
Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum Archived 15 July 2001 at the Wayback
Knesset website, 23 October 1998
Dennis Ross (2015). Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.–Israel
Relationship from Truman to Obama. New York: Macmillan. p. 284.
Retrieved 1 December 2015.
^ Matthew Levitt (4 November 1998). "Human Rights in the Wye River
Memorandum". Policywatch. Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Retrieved 1 December 2015.
^ Ross, The Missing Peace, pp. 461–479.
Knesset official text of the
Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum with link to Hebrew
Knesset approves Wye
Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum and Israeli Settlements" by Geoffrey
Aronson, 1999 informational brief with The Palestine Center.
Middle East Official Texts on the
United States Embassy official site
(Hyperlinks; see Ongoing Peace Efforts 1998 (Archived documents)
Memo of agreement: Joint Statement of the President of the United
States and the Prime Minister of
White House press release
of 31 October 1998, posted in the archives on the United States
Embassy official site)
Middle East Talks, Wye River, 16–23 October 1998 United States
Embassy official site
United States Embassy photos of the talks (October 1998)
Official text of the
Wye River Memorandum
Wye River Memorandum on the United States
Department of State site ("permanent electronic archive of information
released prior to January 20, 2001")[dead link]
Diplomacy and peace proposals in the Arab–Israeli conflict
1914 Damascus Protocol
1915 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence
1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement
1917 Balfour Declaration
1918 Declaration to the Seven / Anglo-French Declaration
1919 Faisal–Weizmann Agreement
1920 San Remo conference
1922 Churchill White Paper
1937 Peel Commission
1939 White Paper
1947 UN Partition Plan
1948 American trusteeship proposal
1948 UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 194
1949 Armistice agreements / Lausanne Conference
1950 Tripartite Declaration
1964 Palestinian National Covenant
1967 Khartoum Resolution / UN Security Council (UNSC)
1973 UNSC Resolution 338 / UNSC Resolution 339
1974 Israel–Syria disengagement agreement / UNSC
1978 UNSC Resolution 425 / Camp David Accords
1979 UNSC Resolution 446 / Egypt–
Treaty / UNSC Resolution 452
1980 UNSC Resolution 478
1981 UNSC Resolution 497
1983 Israel–Lebanon agreement
1991 Madrid Conference
1993 Oslo Accords
1994 Gaza–Jericho Agreement / Israel–
Jordan peace treaty
1995 Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement
1998 Wye River Memorandum
1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum
2000 Camp David Summit / Clinton Parameters
2001 Taba Summit
2002 Beirut Summit and peace initiative / Road map
2003 Geneva Initiative
2004 UNSC Resolution 1559 / UNSC Resolution 1566
2005 UNSC Resolution 1583 / Sharm el-Sheikh Summit /
Israeli disengagement from Gaza / Agreement on Movement and
2006 UNSC Resolution 1701
2007 Annapolis Conference
2010 Israeli–Palestinian peace talks