Last updated on: 5/19/2008 1:33:00 PM PST

What Was the Outcome of the 1998 Wye River Memorandum?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in his 2001 book Righteous Victims, wrote:

"The [Israeli] Knesset approved the [Wye River] agreement [11/17/98] by a 79 to 19 vote, and two days later it was -- narrowly -- approved by the cabinet: 7 to 5, with several ministers abstaining.

On November 20 [1998], Israel withdrew from two percent of the West Bank included in Area C, which then became part of Area B, while 7.1 percent in Area B now joined Area A. Most of the areas evacuated were around Jenin, in northern Samaria [the northern part of the West Bank].

On December 14 [1998], the PNC [Palestine National Council] meeting jointly with other Palestinian bodies -- in President Clinton's presence (the first visit by a U.S. President to PA [Palestinian Authority] territory) -- reiterated the nullification of those clauses in the Palestinian Charter (Covenant) calling for Israel's destruction.

But by then [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu's right-wing coalition partners (and perhaps the dictates of his own conscience) had persuaded the Prime Minister to suspend implementation of Wye and call off the further IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] withdrawals from the West Bank scheduled according to the agreement for early January and mid February 1999...

In effect, Wye had become a dead letter, and its implementation was completely suspended for the duration."

2001 - Benny Morris, PhD 

Hussein Agha, Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University, and Robert Malley, PhD, Middle East Program Director at the International Crisis Group, in a 2002 Foreign Affairs article titled "The Last Negotiation," wrote:

"Everything Israelis and Palestinians have tried since 1993 has been of the interim sort -- whether the Oslo accords themselves, the 1995 Interim accords, the 1997 Hebron agreement, or the 1998 Wye memorandum. However sensible it may have seemed at the start, in practice the incremental approach has demonstrated serious shortcomings. Lacking a clear and distinct vision of where they were heading, both sides treated the interim period not as a time to prepare for an ultimate agreement but as a mere warm-up to the final negotiations; not as a chance to build trust, but as an opportunity to optimize their bargaining positions.

As a result, each side was determined to hold on to its assets until the endgame. Palestinians were loath to confiscate weapons or clamp down on radical groups; Israelis were reluctant to return territory or halt settlement construction. Grudging behavior by one side fueled grudging behavior by the other, leading to a vicious cycle of skirted obligations, clear-cut violations, and mutual recriminations."

2002 - Robert Malley, JD, PhD 
Hussein Agha