Last updated on: 6/26/2008 11:47:00 AM PST

What Was the 1998 Wye River Memorandum?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat (left), Jordan's King Hussein (center-left), US President Bill Clinton (center-right),
and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) at the signing ceremony for the Wye River Memorandum, Oct. 23, 1998

The Wye River Memorandum, signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, in Washington, DC, on Oct. 23, 1998, began with the following statement:

"The following are steps to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of September 28, 1995 (the 'Interim Agreement') 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 this 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."

Oct. 23, 1998 - Wye River Memorandum

Avi Shlaim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College of Oxford University, in his 2001 book The Iron Wall, wrote:

"The memorandum drafted at Wye was signed in Washington on 23 October 1998. It promised to restore momentum to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process begun at Oslo, after nineteen months of stagnation and mounting tension, and to pave the way for comprehensive negotiations aimed at a final peace settlement.

Israel undertook to withdraw its troops from a further 13 percent of the West Bank, in three stages over a period of three months, giving the Palestinian Authority full or partial control of 40 percent of the territory. In return, the Palestinians agreed to a detailed 'work plan' under which they were to cooperate with the CIA in tracking down and arresting extremists in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. Arafat also undertook to summon a broad assembly of Palestinian delegates to review the 1968 Palestinian National Charter and to expunge the clauses calling for the destruction of Israel."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD 

The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS), in a Sep. 8, 2003 Issue Brief for Congress titled "The Middle East Peace Talks," provided the following:

"Signed on October 23, 1998. Delineated steps to complete implementation of the Interim Agreement and of agreements that accompanied the Hebron Protocol. Israel will redeploy from the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian security measures. The PA [Palestine Authority] will have complete or shared responsibility for 40% of the West Bank, of which it will have complete control of 18.2%.

Palestinians will ensure systematic combat of terrorist organizations and their infrastructures, and share their work plan with the United States. A U.S.-Palestinian committee will review steps to counter terrorism. The Palestinians will prohibit illegal weapons and incitement, and establish mechanisms to act against provocateurs.

A U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli committee will monitor incitement and recommend how to prevent it. Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation will be full, continuous, and comprehensive. A trilateral committee will assess threats and deal with impediments to cooperation.

The PLO Executive and Central Committees will reaffirm a January 22, 1998, letter from Arafat to President Clinton that specified articles of the Palestinian Charter that had been nullified in April 1996. The Palestine National Council will reaffirm these decisions. President Clinton will address this conclave.

The two sides agreed on a Gaza industrial estate and on opening the Gaza airport. They agreed to work on safe passage between the Gaza Strip and West Bank and on a Gaza seaport. Permanent status talks will resume when the Memorandum takes effect. A time line is an 'integral attachment' to the Memorandum. U.S. officials provided both sides with letters of assurance regarding U.S. policies."

Sep. 8, 2003 - Congressional Research Service (CRS)