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The Wye River Memorandum was an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Authority to implement the earlier Interim Agreement of 28 September, 1995. Brokered by the United States at the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Centers near Wye River, Maryland,[1] it was signed on October 23, 1998.[2]

Clinton opened the summit at the secluded Wye River Conference Center on October 15 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 also reported that then director of the CIA George Tenet had threatened to resign if Pollard was 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.

On November 17, 1998, Israel's 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Wye River Memorandum by a vote of 75-19.

With the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, and the counter-attacks by the Israel Defense Forces, the Wye River's understandings and goals remain un-implemented.


Initial steps as stipulated by the agreement

The 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 Hebron Protocol of January 17, 1997) ("prior agreements") so that the Israeli and Palestinian sides could more effectively carry out their reciprocal responsibilities, including those relating to further redeployments and security.

Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
and Arab–Israeli conflict series
Peace Process
Israel with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights
      West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights a
Negotiating Parties
Palestinian territories
Camp David Accords · Madrid Conference
Oslo Accords / Oslo II · Hebron Protocol
Wye River / Sharm el-Sheikh Memoranda
2000 Camp David Summit · Taba Summit
Road Map · Annapolis Conference
Primary Negotiation Concerns
Final borders  · Israeli settlements
Palestinian refugees  · Security concerns
Status of Jerusalem  · Water
Secondary Negotiation Concerns
Antisemitic incitements
Israeli West Bank barrier · Jewish state
Palestinian political violence
Places of worship
Palestinian territories  Current Leaders  Israel
Mahmoud Abbas
Salam Fayyad
Benjamin Netanyahu
Shimon Peres
International Brokers
Diplomatic Quartet · Arab League · Egypt
United Nations European Union Russia United States Arab League Egypt
Other Proposals
Arab Peace Initiative · Elon Peace Plan
Lieberman Plan · Geneva Accord · Hudna
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's realignment plan
Peace-orientated projects · Peace Valley · Isratin · One-state solution · Two-state solution · Three-state solution

a The Golan Heights are not part of the Israeli-Palestinian process.


A: Phase one and two further redeployments

(Note about areas:

  • Area A - full control of the Palestinian Authority.
  • Area B - Palestinian civil control, Israeli military control.
  • Area C - full Israeli control.)

1.The Israeli side's implementation of the first and second F.R.D. was to consist of the transfer to the Palestinian side of 13% from Area C as follows:

  • 1% to Area (A)
  • 12% to Area (B)

The Palestinian side had informed that it would allocate an area/areas amounting to 3% from the above Area (B) to be designated as Green Areas and/or Nature Reserves.

The Israeli side would retain in these Green Areas/Nature Reserves the overriding security responsibility for the purpose of protecting Israelis and confronting the threat of terrorism.

B: Third phase of further redeployments

With regard to the terms of the Interim Agreement and of Secretary Warren Christopher's letters to the two sides of January 17, 1997 relating to the further redeployment process, there was be a committee to address this question. The United States wanted to 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 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 their jurisdiction.

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 calls 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 following steps:

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 assistance.

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 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 U.S.

2: PLO charter

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council should reaffirm the letter of January 22, 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 the 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 avoid harassment.

Economic issues

  1. 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.
  2. The Israeli and Palestinian sides agreed on arrangements which would permit the timely opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The two sides recognized that unresolved legal issues hurt the relationship between the two peoples.
  6. The Israeli and Palestinian sides also should launch a strategic economic dialogue to enhance their economic relationship.
  7. 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 May 4, 1999.


Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side should have initiated, or take any step that would change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.

Reasons for failure

After transferring 2 percent of Area C to Area B and 7.1 percent of Area B to Area A, as stipulated in the timetable, Israel did not see reciprical steps being taken by the Palestinian Authority (such as the collection of illegal arms) (Eran, 143). Thus, Israel believed that the Palestinian Authority's promises to implement its share of responsibilities under the Wye River Memorandum were insincere.

On the Palestinian side, the Wye River Memorandum was seen as intrinsically unfair. While Palestinians, with limited resources, were now expected to prevent all attacks against Israelis, something Israel had been unable to accomplish, the thousands of armed Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank were not to be disarmed. Under the memorandum, Israel, the occupying power, had no responsibility to protect Palestinians from settler attacks, or to stop more settlers from colonizing Palestinian land. House demolitions, movement restrictions and settlement building all continued unabated. The agreement was also unfavorable to the Palestinians as, even if it were implemented, it would only have returned around 14 percent of the 22 percent of mandate Palestine left to the Palestinians, leaving only 40 percent of their territory under their control as opposed to the 90 percent expected under the Oslo Accords.[3]

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties


  1. ^ 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 0374199736.  
  2. ^ Gellman, Barton (1998-10-24). "Netanyahu, Arafat Sign Accord; Talks Nearly Founder After Israel Demands Convicted Spy's Release". The Washington Post. p. A1.  
  3. ^ Fisk, Robert (2005). The Great War for Civilization. London: Harper Perennial. p. 536–539. ISBN 10 1 84115 008 8.  


  • Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002.

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