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Palestinian Authority has yet to honor all of its Wye commitments

Dinsdag, December 15, 1998 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, Februari 4, 2012

Communicated by the Israel Government Press Office, December 15, 1998


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, 15.12.98, at the
trilateral meeting with President Bill Clinton and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser Arafat, presented a list of Palestinian violations, and
commitments which the Palestinians have not yet honored in accordance with
the Wye river memorandum.

Following is most of the list that was presented:

  1. A Palestinian announcement renouncing the intention to declare a state
  2. An explicit Palestinian announcement regarding the Palestinian
    commitment to an agreement on the Palestinian prisoners issue, according to
    which prisoners with blood on their hands will not be released.
  3. – The first operation to collect illegal weapons and American
    involvement in disarmament.- Agreement in the supreme security committee on the criteria for
    registering handguns to civilians.- Collecting weapons beyond the permitted number that are held by the PA
    and their removal by the United States.
  4. Providing lists of the Palestinian policemen – – reducing the size of
    the Palestinian police force to 30,000.
  5. – A first report of the anti-incitement committee.- The PA should take measures against those who violate the anti-incitement
  6. – Continued implementation of the work plan for combatting terrorism
    and halting all acts of violence.- A report to the U.S.-Palestinian security committee about the outlawing
    of terrorist organizations.

    – A report to the U.S.-Palestinian security committee about the jailing
    of suspects; the mechanism for preventing the “revolving door” must operate.

    – At least 22 of the 30 Palestinian wanted fugitives must be jailed.

Press Conference on this subject with Prime Minister Netanyahu and
Minister Natan Sharansky

Jerusalem, December 14, 1998

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Today has been a very
important day for the state of Israel. Fifty years after the state
has been established, and so many years after the acceptance
of the Palestinian Covenant calling for the destruction of Israel,
and five years after the Palestinians originally decided to abolish
it, this has been achieved today.

This was achieved because we insisted that the charter should
be abrogated. I think this is a very important move because it is
the first time that every Palestinian home and every Palestinian
child will know of that and will have heard of that. This has not
happened before.

It used to be whispered. It used to be whispered in English, in
foreign languages, but today, for the first time in Gaza toward the
whole Palestinian people, toward the whole world, but above all,
toward their own people, those clauses of the Palestinian Charter
which call for the destruction of Israel have been abrogated.

This is a very important step. I welcome it. It is a positive step. But
you have to recognize that it is only the first step, and further
steps are needed.

Words are significant, but if they are opposed to deeds, then,
that’s not enough. There have to be acts as well. And the acts
that the Palestinians have undertaken to take out must be carried
out. There has to be the end of incitement in the schools, among
the public. There has to be internalization of the process.

Let’s not delude ourselves. I don’t think any Israeli deludes
himself that this internalization exists already. But this is the first
real step that has been taken toward inculcation of this notion
that we have the right to exist here; that the state of Israel has a
right to exist here. That we, our people, our children have a right
to exist here; a legal right, that we have the de jure right to

So more actions are needed by the Palestinian Authority toward
ending incitement in regard to education and other undertakings
of the Wye agreement. We insist that they comply with all the
undertakings of the Wye agreement. We insisted on abrogation
of the charter and we insist on the other steps.

First of all, that illegal weapons be handed in. There are many
illegal weapons in Gaza and in the West Bank. There are caches
of illegal weapons that endanger the state of Israel and real
actions are needed in this regard.

There has to be recognition on the part of the Palestinian
Authority that the permanent solution should be attained by
negotiation. They have undertaken to do that. And they must
abolish their intention — they have a unilateral
declaration of a Palestinian state and to declare part of
Jerusalem their capital.

All the agreements from Camp David
onward were based on the fact that the negotiations for a
permanent settlement, as was the case with Egypt and as will be
the case with other Arab countries, will be through negotiations.

First of all, they have to stop the incitement to violence — the
organization of violence — and comply with all the undertakings
under the Wye agreement. Another point of the Wye agreement
was that we do not release murderers.

If they comply with their undertakings, I want to state categorically
that the government of Israel will carry out its undertakings, but
only by standing firmly for the honoring of agreements.

Can real and true peace be achieved between ourselves and the
Palestinians that will give security and hope for life in this country
without terror and without violence?

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, first of all, what — are you saying
that in spite of this step, the second — the redeployment will not
take place?

And secondly, the United States appear to have drawn a parallel
between the terror of this part (ph) and the terror on the other
side. Do you not feel we have lost part of the friendship of the
United States through Clinton’s statement?

NETANYAHU: I think it is clear to all of us in the past months the
Palestinians have not complied with their part of the agreement.
But today, a very important step was taken. I don’t ignore either
the one or the other. And, of course, we should be able to honor
our undertakings the moment that they comply with theirs.

The minute they do that, we shall do the same. I’m not talking
about a schedule or a deadline. Mention has been made of a month or
two months. I don’t think that’s very significant. But what is
important is that the minute they comply, we shall do so.

Today, an important step was taken. I’m very glad of that step.
We were told that they wouldn’t do that. We were told it’s
impossible. If you insist on it, you will put spokes in the wheel of
the peace process. But it has happened today, and a very
positive change has taken place today.

And we intend to insist on the other changes in order to move the
peace process forward. We are committed to the Oslo
agreements and to the Wye agreement. We shall not tear them
up. Of course, there is no symmetry between ourselves and
the Palestinians.

We didn’t send murderers, we didn’t terrorists gangs. Everybody
understands that. We do not advocate the method of terrorism.
Those — this is a proper and orderly state and murderers are put
into prison and there cannot be symmetry.

I hope that he — meaning the president — too, understands that.
You know my position. I have for years fought terror. I have never
accepted the idea that terrorists — that a Jewish terrorist should
be immune. A terrorist is a terrorist. A murderer is a murderer.
Any person that has murdered innocent people should be behind

You cannot draw a parallel between such a person and a soldier
who fought in Bethel and fought in self-defense.

QUESTION: You say that the PNC meeting was a very important
event. It was an important international event. And, yet, after the
president’s address, we seem to be put into a rather inferior
position. And what about the president’s remark about peace and

NETANYAHU: Contrary to what’s been said here before — even
what was said just 24 hours ago — Palestinians said they would
never abrogate the charter, they would never vote.

But you see what change has been — taken place. There’s been
a very clear majority.

I believe it’s almost two-thirds, according to the information we
have of the PNC — have voted for the abrogation.

So this shows that we insist — if we insist, we achieve what we
insist upon. And this will lead to a real peace, a lasting peace,
not a minute-long peace.

Such a peace can be achieved only if we insist on the conditions
for a lasting peace. What happened today should give great
hopes to Israelis, both about what has been achieved and as an
example of our capacity to bring about changes that — and cause
the Palestinians to abide by the terms of the agreement.

QUESTION: It’s said that you fear the vote of the Knesset, that’s
why you were putting such emphasis…

NETANYAHU: I think that we have to insist on our dignity and
our rights. We have made great sacrifices. We are ready to make
more sacrifices and to abide by our commitments. But for this to
have any validity, we have to have the ability to insist on the
terms that they have committed themselves to.

As to the Knesset, let me surprise you. I’ve not even thought
about that. I’m not ready to accept the dictates which say cancel
the agreements, but I should insist on the fulfilment of the
Palestinian undertakings.

The minute they do that, we shall move forward. I said yesterday
this is the right way, and the Knesset members will have to do
their — make their own considerations and make their own

QUESTION: Perhaps you have an intention to tell President
Clinton some comment about the comparison he made between
terror and/or symmetry in terrorism.

He praised the Palestinians so highly, why would you not agree
to a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee to consider the future of
the prisoners who have the blood on their hands?

NETANYAHU: First of all, I’m very satisfied with what has
happened today in Gaza. That’s very important. I praise the
Israeli people that gave me and the government the support we
needed to insist on this fulfilment of condition.

Wherever I went, people told me, insist on this. And they might be
obdurate, but we insisted. As to the prisoners, we are doing the
right thing. We have no intention of sending, setting up a
three-way committee with the United States. We don’t intend to
surrender our natural right to decide about the prisoners.

Israel has never undertaken any of the agreements, not even in
Wye, to release any murderers or any persons with blood on their hands.

On the contrary, it was said clearly at the Wye agreement that we
would never do that. I have no intention of changing the criteria.
There is a committee. If the Palestinians wish to change the
position of that committee, to replace their representatives, I have
nothing against that.

Nobody has ever suggested the Americans should participate in
this committee. The Palestinians can change their
representatives or can ask for various changes, but it’s up to us;
the criteria are our own. We will not release people with blood on
their hands.

QUESTION: And what would you have to say about the
president’s comparison? If there is a three-way committee, there
might be a meeting and there may be comments.

NETANYAHU: I make no differentiation between what blood of
one or another. Those with blood on their hands will not be

QUESTION: The question was whether we’d release —
Israel would release prisoners who had murdered informers.

NETANYAHU: The ideas that were suggested by the
government and myself today, they do not include release of
murderers. There maybe other changes.

QUESTION: Don’t you think that a big step was taken today
toward recognition of a Palestinian state through Mr. Clinton’s
speech in Gaza?

NETANYAHU: The second question about fulfilling the
redeployment depends up to the Palestinians. If they do what
they are supposed to do, as they have done today, we should
take — carry out our part.

As to the last question, the argument against U.S.
involvement should be addressed, first of all, to the Oslo
agreement. It was signed in the White House. Arafat was brought
to the U.S. Capitol and he was confronted there with the late Mr.
Rabin and we went into this process.

The question is not whether the Americans are here, but on what
do we insist upon? The U.S. supports our just standpoint that the
permanent agreement can be achieved only through
negotiations. They cannot on their own decide to set up a
Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. That’s a flagrant
violation of the Oslo agreement. The Americans agree to that
point of view.

QUESTION: Perhaps you are a prime minister who doesn’t have
a government behind him to back him. You have a situation in
the Knesset where you do not have a majority there.

NETANYAHU: There’s no doubt that the government will be
united in our firm state about Palestinian compliance. On the
contrary, we proved today how just and effective that stand has

As to the Knesset, I know we have the support of the people, of
the nation for our just stand. It’s up to every member of the
parliament to decide what to do. Nobody will dictate to us any
change of policy, either from the left or the right.


NETANYAHU: We shall in the next few days see how things

QUESTION: Can you say if, when and where there will be a
three- way summit tonight and what you hope to gain from such a
discussion — what specifically you’ll bring to Clinton and Arafat?

Well, we’ve discussed the possibility, but we haven’t ironed out
the (OFF-MIKE). The night is young. It’s a long night.

QUESTION: Prime Minister, (OFF-MIKE) Palestinian voting…

NETANYAHU: Well, I can say that 50 years after the
establishment of the state of Israel, 35 years after the
Palestinians adopted a covenant that calls for our destruction,
five years after the — their promise to annul this covenant of
death, we finally received today an important step on the part of
the Palestinians in annulling the charter, the Palestinian Charter.

This is an important step because we insisted that they recognize
the fact that we have a right to live here, that our children have a
right to live here, that this country has a place under the sun — by
right. And I think this is an important step, but it’s a first step.

There are many things that have to take place as well. This has
to be backed up by action in the field, because words must have
meaning backed by action. They must change their curriculum in
the schools to teach their young Palestinian children not to
commit terror acts against Israel, but to accept Israel.

They have to stop the incitement in the Palestinian press. They
have to speak differently to their people, not only on one day in
the president’s important visit — President Clinton’s important visit
— but on every day.

And we must see, of course, the fulfilment of the other
commitments that the Palestinians took upon themselves in Wye
— the collection of illegal weapons, abandoning their attempts to
unilaterally divide Jerusalem, unilaterally establish a Palestinian
state, instead of achieving a negotiated solution. Stopping the
incitement for violence, stopping the violence — all these
commitments that they undertook in Wye, we would like to see
complied with.

We will, of course, make sure that they comply with them, just as
we saw today. We stood firm. They complied, and it helps us
move forward. It moves the process forward. And I hope indeed
that they speedily comply with their other commitments because I
believe this is the best way to assure genuine peace — peace
with security.

QUESTION: What else do the Palestinians have to do before you
continue (OFF-MIKE)?

NETANYAHU: Simply keep — fulfil their other obligations that
they undertook in Wye. And I enumerated them a minute ago.
And your Hebrew is pretty good, isn’t it?

I have two comments that I’d would like to add to what the prime
minister said. At Wye Plantation, the argument that — Arafat said
it was very dangerous to convene the PNC because that would
bring down Arafat.

This was one argument that was used. If the vice president, the
secretary of state said that intelligence sources said this would
be very dangerous for Arafat’s political situation. But all this
argument that Arafat is weak, that was a strong weapon in the
hands of Arafat; when he could say — My position is weak, do not
pressure me. What we saw today was that Arafat is strong
enough to carry out any of his undertakings. What happened
today was not only that the Palestinian Charter was voted down,
but also that Arafat no longer has the weapon to say that he’s too
weak, so weak that his position should not be jeopardized. That’s
an important conclusion.

Secondly, there have, of course, been discussions as to whether
Arafat has already taken the step of abrogation and whether the
PNC should need to be convened again. It is very important that
we were able to persuade the U.S. president that it was not only
a technical matter, but that it was a matter of internalization by the

There was such a huge difference between the message in
English and in Arabic, it was important for Arafat specifically to
tell his people in Arabic. In the week — in the same week there
was a speech in Arabic in Ramallah and a speech in English in
Stockholm (ph) which were radically different.

Of course, he hasn’t done everything I want him to say. I would
like Arafat to say that the end of the era of violence is here, but he
hasn’t said that. He didn’t specifically say that.

He didn’t say that all of the war against Israel is behind us. But he
did, for the first time, say in Arabic that the Palestinian Charter is
dead. That is very important.

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