Last updated on: 7/2/2008 9:17:00 AM PST
What Impact Did the "Hebron Protocol" Have on the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Alan Makovsky, MA, Senior Staff Member on the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, and Robert Satloff, PhD, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in a Jan. 27, 1997 article posted on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, titled "The Hebron Agreement: A Closer Look," wrote:

"The weeks between the Hebron agreement and the first phase of Israel's 'further redeployment' in the West Bank have already produced an uncommon still in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, with tourism officials undertaking a joint marketing scheme under the motto: 'Peace -- It's a Beautiful Sight to See.' In this critical 'time out' period, it is important to clarify the key achievements that permitted both parties to claim 'victory' less than four months after riots and violence had brought the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the precipice of collapse...

For Arafat, the major achievement was to expand the Hebron talks beyond their original, limited mandate and win de facto Likud support for - or at least grudging acceptance of - the process of "territorial compromise" in the West Bank that had been inaugurated under Labor...

For Netanyahu, the major achievement was to win American support for Israel's view that defining the depth of 'further redeployments' does not require negotiations with the Palestinians...

On three other points, Israel appears to have made important gains as well. First, in terms of Hebron itself, the new protocol does improve upon the original security arrangements -- in potentially important, even if not fundamental, ways. These have to do with restrictions on Palestinian police firearms, wider buffer zones for Palestinian police operations, enhanced joint security efforts and restrictions on Palestinian construction...

Second, of potentially longer-term significance was Israel's affirmation of a right to settle within Hebron, foreshadowing a future final-status negotiating clash. The new Israeli approach is a clear departure from that of the Rabin-Peres era, when most observers presumed the Jewish presence in Hebron would be wiped away in the tide of 'final status' arrangements...Israel also managed to maintain its control over all security aspects of the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque.

Third, Israel has thrust the issue of the PLO Charter back into the forefront of the process...

Potentially another Israeli achievement in the agreement was the commitment of each side to implementation of unfulfilled Oslo II obligations 'on the basis of reciprocity' and 'immediately and in parallel.'"

Jan. 27, 1997 - Robert Satloff, PhD 
David Makovsky, MA 

Lamis Andoni, an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs who writes for Middle East International, in a Spring 1997 article for the Journal of Palestine Studies, wrote:

"By signing the protocol and agreeing to pull back from West Bank territory, the Likud for the first time was effectively endorsing the underlying land-for-peace assumption of the Oslo accords. For many, the corollary of the 'end of the Zionist dream' was the beginning of Palestinian statehood. However, a reading of the Hebron agreements shows that the two 'dreams' are by no means synonymous...

In return for a partial troop redeployment, Israel has seen its control over the old part of Hebron sanctioned and its jurisdiction over settlements and settlers legitimized. In return for its commitment to resume negotiations on pending interim issues and the permanent status, it has received U.S. support for its claim to maintain control over both the timetable and the scope of future withdrawals. Even as the Palestinian leadership emphasizes the transitional nature of the deal pending final status, the protocol seems to lay the groundwork for a permanent division of Hebron and for a lasting modus vivendi between a fragmented Palestinian entity and Israeli settlements...

The sum of the U.S. position seems to suggest an unequivocal American recognition that Israeli security, rather than UN resolutions, is the principal term of reference of the peace process between Israel and all of the Arab parties, including the Palestinians...

Another element that appears to have been elevated to a term of reference in the Hebron accord is the 'principle of reciprocity.' In his Knesset speech, Netanyahu declaired: 'We established the principle of reciprocity -- in an official document -- as a basic principle for the continuation of the permanent status negotiations. This is now an integral part of the agreement.' 'Reciprocity,' stated in Ross's [U.S. mediator Dennis Ross] 'Note for the Record' as the basis on which the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Interim Agreement, links Israel's commitment to continue the peace process to the Palestinians' ability to ensure Israel's security, as defined by Israel.

The most significant aspect of the 'principle of reciprocity' in the context of the peace process is that it gives Israel even more control over the timetable, not only of further redeployments but also of the final status negotiations. The linkage of Palestinian security performance and Israeli implementation effectively gives Israel an 'override' with regard to the timetables included in the agreements."

Spring 1997 - Lamis Andoni 

Palestine Facts, an online resource for topics on Israel, Palestine, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, posted the following statements in an article (accessed June 26, 2007) titled "What was the Hebron Protocol and Agreement in 1997?":

 "The Hebron Agreement was far from completely satisfactory to Israel and represented some significant gains for the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , by accepting the agreement, betrayed some of his Likud supporters who thought he would never negotiate away rights of settlers in the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. With this agreement, Likud also endorsed the Labor policy of trading 'land for peace', another victory for Arafat. The Israelis did gain some from the agreement, in the details of the redeployment arrangements and in the right of Jewish settlers to remain in Hebron. One thing the Israelis did not get was control of the size of the redeployments, notwithstanding American reassurance after Hebron that the size of future redeployments would be decided unilaterally by Israel."

June 26, 2007 - Palestine Facts 

The Journal of Palestine Studies, in a Summer 1997 article titled "IPS Forum: Hebron and the Redeployments," wrote:

"While the agreement [Hebron Protocol] showed that the Right [Israeli political Right, i.e. Likud party etc.] was prepared under certain conditions to accept some kind of territoriality, the difficulty with which the protocol passed in the cabinet made it clear that no further 'concessions' could be expected from the current [Israeli] government on any of the important issues affecting the Palestinians -- statehood, redeployment, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and so on. Thus, already it was clear from the Hebron negotiations that whatever territorial solution might be envisioned would be far too limited to satisfy the Palestinians' minimal requirements...

[I]t was emphasized that Hebron was a unique case and could in no sense serve as an indicator of long-term Israeli intentions because of the all-important U.S. role as sponsor of the agreement governing the Hebron withdrawal. Given that the Americans had already endorsed redeployment from Hebron, the last of the seven towns covered by Oslo II, their credibility demanded that they exert a degree of pressure on the Likud government to withdraw. Netanyahu, then, had merely bowed to the inevitable, as Israeli commentators and analysts had predicted all along. In sum, Hebron has no replicative potential because meaningful American involvement will henceforth be absent...

[T]he Palestinian leadership's apparent hypothesis of an almost automatic dynamism from area C to B to A, gathering momentum toward critical mass (the PA's announced expectation of 90 percent of the West Bank) was opposed by the counterhypothesis of diminishing dynamism in keeping with Israel's policy of Palestinian authority over people, not land. In this regard, it was noted that the more the Palestinians approach control of, say, 40 percent of the territory, the less leverage they will have over the remaining 60 percent."

Summer 1997 - Journal of Palestine Studies