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The Mitchell Fact-Finding Committee Report

Zaterdag, December 18, 2010 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, Januari 7, 2012

Final Report, April 30, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United
States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,
We enclose herewith the report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding
Committee.
We sought and received information and advice from a wide range of
individuals, organizations, and governments. However, the conclusions and
recommendations are ours alone.
We are grateful for the support that you and your administration have
provided to the Committee.
Respectfully,
Suleyman Demirel
Thorbjoern Jagland
Warren B. Rudman
Javier
Solana
George J Mitchell, Chairman

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The Government of Israel (GOI) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) must
act swiftly and decisively to halt the violence. Their immediate
objectives then should be to rebuild confidence and resume
negotiations.
During this mission our aim has been to fulfill the mandate agreed at
Sharm el-Sheikh. We value the support given our work by the participants
at the summit, and we commend the parties for their cooperation. Our
principal recommendation is that they recommit themselves to the Sharm
el-Sheikh spirit and that they implement the decisions made there in 1999
and 2000. We believe that the summit participants will support bold action
by the parties to achieve these objectives.
The restoration of trust is essential, and the parties should take
affirmative steps to this end. Given the high level of hostility and
mistrust, the timing and sequence of these steps are obviously crucial.
This can be decided only by the parties. We urge them to begin the process
of decision immediately.
Accordingly, we recommend that steps be taken to:

END THE VIOLENCE

  • The GOI and the PA should reaffirm their commitment to existing
    agreements and undertakings and should immediately implement an
    unconditional cessation of violence.
  • The GOI and PA should immediately resume security
    cooperation.

REBUILD CONFIDENCE

  • The PA and GOI should work together to establish a meaningful
    “cooling off period” and implement additional confidence building
    measures, some of which were detailed in the October 2000 Sharm
    el-Sheikh Statement and some of which were offered by the U.S. on
    January 7, 2001 in Cairo (see Recommendations section for further
    description).
  • The PA and GOI should resume their efforts to identify, condemn and
    discourage incitement in all its forms.
  • The PA should make clear through concrete action to Palestinians
    and Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable,
    and that the PA will make a 100 percent effort to prevent terrorist
    operations and to punish perpetrators. This effort should include
    immediate steps to apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating
    within the PA’s jurisdiction.
  • The GOI should freeze all settlement activity, including the
    “natural growth” of existing settlements.
  • The GOI should ensure that the IDF adopt and enforce policies and
    procedures encouraging non-lethal responses to unarmed demonstrators,
    with a view to minimizing casualties and friction between the two
    communities.
  • The PA should prevent gunmen from using Palestinian populated areas
    to fire upon Israeli populated areas and IDF positions. This tactic
    places civilians on both sides at unnecessary risk.
  • The GOI should lift closures, transfer to the PA all tax revenues
    owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed in Israel to
    return to their jobs; and should ensure that security forces and
    settlers refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as
    trees and other agricultural property in Palestinian areas. We
    acknowledge the GOI’s position that actions of this nature have been
    taken for security reasons. Nevertheless, the economic effects will
    persist for years.
  • The PA should renew cooperation with Israeli security agencies to
    ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that Palestinian workers
    employed within Israel are fully vetted and free of connections to
    organizations and individuals engaged in terrorism.
  • The PA and GOI should consider a joint undertaking to preserve and
    protect holy places sacred to the traditions of Jews, Muslims, and
    Christians.
  • The GOI and PA should jointly endorse and support the work of
    Palestinian and Israeli non- governmental organizations involved in
    cross-community initiatives linking the two
    peoples

RESUME NEGOTIATIONS
In the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and understandings of
1999 and 2000, we recommend that the parties meet to reaffirm their
commitment to signed agreements and mutual understandings, and take
corresponding action. This should be the basis for resuming full and
meaningful negotiations.

INTRODUCTION
On October 17, 2000, at the conclusion of the Middle East Peace Summit
at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the President of the United States spoke on
behalf of the participants (the Government of Israel, the Palestinian
Authority, the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, and the United States, the
United Nations, and the European Union). Among other things, the President
stated that:

The United States will develop with the Israelis and Palestinians, as
well as in consultation with the United Nations Secretary General, a
committee of fact-finding on the events of the past several weeks and
how to prevent their recurrence. The committee’s report will be shared
by the U.S. President with the U.N. Secretary General and the parties
prior to publication. A final report shall be submitted under the
auspices of the U.S. President for publication.
On November 7, 2000, following consultations with the other
participants, the President asked us to serve on what has come to be known
as the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee. In a letter to us on
December 6, 2000, the President stated that:

The purpose of the Summit, and of the agreement that ensued, was to
end the violence, to prevent its recurrence, and to find a path back to
the peace process. In its actions and mode of operation, therefore, the
Committee should be guided by these overriding goals … The Committee
should strive to steer clear of any step that will intensify mutual
blame and finger-pointing between the parties. As I noted in my previous
letter, “the Committee should not become a divisive force or a focal
point for blame and recrimination but rather should serve to forestall
violence and confrontation and provide lessons for the future.” This
should not be a tribunal whose purpose is to determine the guilt or
innocence of individuals or of the parties; rather, it should be a
fact-finding committee whose purpose is to determine what happened and
how to avoid it recurring in the future.

After our first meeting, held before we visited the region, we urged an
end to all violence. Our meetings and our observations during our
subsequent visits to the region have intensified our convictions in this
regard. Whatever the source, violence will not solve the problems of the
region. It will only make them worse. Death and destruction will not bring
peace, but will deepen the hatred and harden the resolve on both sides.
There is only one way to peace, justice, and security in the Middle East,
and that is through negotiation.
Despite their long history and close proximity, some Israelis and
Palestinians seem not to fully appreciate each other’s problems and
concerns. Some Israelis appear not to comprehend the humiliation and
frustration that Palestinians must endure every day as a result of living
with the continuing effects of occupation, sustained by the presence of
Israeli military forces and settlements in their midst, or the
determination of the Palestinians to achieve independence and genuine
self-determination. Some Palestinians appear not to comprehend the extent
to which terrorism creates fear among the Israeli people and undermines
their belief in the possibility of co-existence, or the determination of
the GOI to do whatever is necessary to protect its people.
Fear, hate, anger, and frustration have risen on both sides. The
greatest danger of all is that the culture of peace, nurtured over the
previous decade, is being shattered. In its place there is a growing sense
of futility and despair, and a growing resort to violence.
Political leaders on both sides must act and speak decisively to
reverse these dangerous trends; they must rekindle the desire and the
drive for peace. That will be difficult. But it can be done and it must be
done, for the alternative is unacceptable and should be unthinkable.
Two proud peoples share a land and a destiny. Their competing claims
and religious differences have led to a grinding, demoralizing,
dehumanizing conflict. They can continue in conflict or they can negotiate
to find a way to live side-by-side in peace.
There is a record of achievement. In 1991 the first peace conference
with Israelis and Palestinians took place in Madrid to achieve peace based
on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. In 1993, the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel met in Oslo for the first
face-to-face negotiations; they led to mutual recognition and the
Declaration of Principles (signed by the parties in Washington, D.C. on
September 13, 1993), which provided a road map to reach the destination
agreed in Madrid. Since then, important steps have been taken in Cairo, in
Washington, and elsewhere. Last year the parties came very close to a
permanent settlement.
So much has been achieved. So much is at risk. If the parties are to
succeed in completing their journey to their common destination, agreed
commitments must be implemented, international law respected, and human
rights protected. We encourage them to return to negotiations, however
difficult. It is the only path to peace, justice and security.

DISCUSSION
It is clear from their statements that the participants in the summit
of last October hoped and intended that the outbreak of violence, then
less than a month old, would soon end. The U.S. President’s letters to us,
asking that we make recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence of
violence, reflect that intention.
Yet the violence has not ended. It has worsened. Thus the overriding
concern of those in the region with whom we spoke is to end the violence
and to return to the process of shaping a sustainable peace. That is what
we were told, and were asked to address, by Israelis and Palestinians
alike. It was the message conveyed to us as well by President Mubarak of
Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, and UN Secretary General Annan.
Their concern must be ours. If our report is to have effect, it must
deal with the situation that exists, which is different from that
envisaged by the summit participants. In this report, we will try to
answer the questions assigned to us by the Sharm el-Sheikh summit: What
happened? Why did it happen?
In light of the current situation, however, we must elaborate on the
third part of our mandate: How can the recurrence of violence be
prevented? The relevance and impact of our work, in the end, will be
measured by the recommendations we make concerning the following:

  • Ending the Violence.
  • Rebuilding Confidence.
  • Resuming Negotiations.

WHAT HAPPENED?
We are not a tribunal. We complied with the request that we not
determine the guilt or innocence of individuals or of the parties. We did
not have the power to compel the testimony of witnesses or the production
of documents. Most of the information we received came from the parties
and, understandably, it largely tended to support their arguments.
In this part of our report, we do not attempt to chronicle all of the
events from late September 2000 onward. Rather, we discuss only those that
shed light on the underlying causes of violence.
In late September 2000, Israeli, Palestinian, and other officials
received reports that Member of the Knesset (now Prime Minister) Ariel
Sharon was planning a visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in
Jerusalem. Palestinian and U.S. officials urged then Prime Minister Ehud
Barak to prohibit the visit.3 Mr. Barak told us that he believed
the visit was intended to be an internal political act directed against
him by a political opponent, and he declined to prohibit it.
Mr. Sharon made the visit on September 28 accompanied by over 1,000
Israeli police officers. Although Israelis viewed the visit in an internal
political context, Palestinians saw it as highly provocative to them. On
the following day, in the same place, a large number of unarmed
Palestinian demonstrators and a large Israeli police contingent confronted
each other. According to the U.S. Department of State, “Palestinians held
large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the
Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition
to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about
200.”4 According to the GOI, 14 Israeli policemen
were injured.5
Similar demonstrations took place over the following several days.6
Thus began what has become known as the
“Al-Aqsa Intifada” (Al-Aqsa being a mosque at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple
Mount).
The GOI asserts that the immediate catalyst for the violence was the
breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on July 25, 2000 and the
“widespread appreciation in the international community of Palestinian
responsibility for the impasse.”7 In this view, Palestinian violence was
planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at “provoking and incurring
Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic
initiative.”8
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denies the allegation that
the intifada was planned. It claims, however, that “Camp David represented
nothing less than an attempt by Israel to extend the force it exercises on
the ground to negotiations,”9 and that “the failure of the summit, and
the attempts to allocate blame on the Palestinian side only added to the
tension on the ground…”10
From the perspective of the PLO, Israel responded to the disturbances
with excessive and illegal use of deadly force against demonstrators;
behavior which, in the PLO’s view, reflected Israel’s contempt for the
lives and safety of Palestinians. For Palestinians, the widely seen images
of the killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al Durra in Gaza on September 30,
shot as he huddled behind his father, reinforced that perception.
From the perspective of the GOI, the demonstrations were organized and
directed by the Palestinian leadership to create sympathy for their cause
around the world by provoking Israeli security forces to fire upon
demonstrators, especially young people. For Israelis, the lynching of two
military reservists, First Sgt. Vadim Novesche and First Cpl. Yosef
Avrahami, in Ramallah on October 12, reflected a deep-seated Palestinian
hatred of Israel and Jews.
What began as a series of confrontations between Palestinian
demonstrators and Israeli security forces, which resulted in the GOI’s
initial restrictions on the movement of people and goods in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip (closures), has since evolved into a wider array of violent
actions and responses. There have been exchanges of fire between built-up
areas, sniping incidents and clashes between Israeli settlers and
Palestinians. There have also been terrorist acts and Israeli reactions
thereto (characterized by the GOI as counter-terrorism), including
killings, further destruction of property and economic measures. Most
recently, there have been mortar attacks on Israeli locations and IDF
ground incursions into Palestinian areas.
From the Palestinian perspective, the decision of Israel to
characterize the current crisis as “an armed conflict short of war”11 is simply a means “to justify its
assassination policy, its collective punishment policy, and its use of
lethal force.”12 From the Israeli perspective, “The
Palestinian leadership have instigated, orchestrated and directed the
violence. It has used, and continues to use, terror and attrition as
strategic tools.”13
In their submissions, the parties traded allegations about the
motivation and degree of control exercised by the other. However, we were
provided with no persuasive evidence that the Sharon visit was anything
other than an internal political act; neither were we provided with
persuasive evidence that the PA planned the uprising.
Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a
deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first
opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI to
respond with lethal force.
However, there is also no evidence on which to conclude that the PA
made a consistent effort to contain the demonstrations and control the
violence once it began; or that the GOI made a consistent effort to use
non-lethal means to control demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. Amid
rising anger, fear, and mistrust, each side assumed the worst about the
other and acted accordingly.
The Sharon visit did not cause the “Al-Aqsa Intifada.” But it was
poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed
it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More
significant were the events that followed: the decision of the Israeli
police on September 29 to use lethal means against the Palestinian
demonstrators; and the subsequent failure, as noted above, of either party
to exercise restraint.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN?
The roots of the current violence extend much deeper than an
inconclusive summit conference. Both sides have made clear a profound
disillusionment with the behavior of the other in failing to meet the
expectations arising from the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991 and
then in Oslo in 1993. Each side has accused the other of violating
specific undertakings and undermining the spirit of their commitment to
resolving their political differences peacefully.
Divergent Expectations: We are struck by the divergent
expectations expressed by the parties relating to the implementation of
the Oslo process. Results achieved from this process were unthinkable less
than 10 years ago. During the latest round of negotiations, the parties
were closer to a permanent settlement than ever before.
Nonetheless, Palestinians and Israelis alike told us that the premise
on which the Oslo process is based — that tackling the hard “permanent
status” issues be deferred to the end of the process — has gradually come
under serious pressure. The step-by-step process agreed to by the parties
was based on the assumption that each step in the negotiating process
would lead to enhanced trust and confidence. To achieve this, each party
would have to implement agreed upon commitments and abstain from actions
that would be seen by the other as attempts to abuse the process in order
to predetermine the shape of the final outcome. If this requirement is not
met, the Oslo road map cannot successfully lead to its agreed destination.
Today, each side blames the other for having ignored this fundamental
aspect, resulting in a crisis in confidence. This problem became even more
pressing with the opening of permanent status talks.
The GOI has placed primacy on moving toward a Permanent Status
Agreement in a nonviolent atmosphere, consistent with commitments
contained in the agreements between the parties. “Even if slower than was
initially envisaged, there has, since the start of the peace process in
Madrid in 1991, been steady progress towards the goal of a Permanent
Status Agreement without the resort to violence on a scale that has
characterized recent weeks.”14 The “goal” is the Permanent Status
Agreement, the terms of which must be negotiated by the parties.
The PLO view is that delays in the process have been the result of an
Israeli attempt to prolong and solidify the occupation. Palestinians
“believed that the Oslo process would yield an end to Israeli occupation
in five years,”15 the timeframe for the transitional period
specified in the Declaration of Principles. Instead there have been, in
the PLO’s view, repeated Israeli delays culminating in the Camp David
summit, where, “Israel proposed to annex about 11.2% of the West Bank
(excluding Jerusalem)…” and offered unacceptable proposals concerning
Jerusalem, security and refugees. “In sum, Israel’s proposals at Camp
David provided for Israel’s annexation of the best Palestinian lands, the
perpetuation of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, a continued Israeli
military presence on Palestinian territory, Israeli control over
Palestinian natural resources, airspace and borders, and the return of
fewer than 1% of refugees to their homes.”16
Both sides see the lack of full compliance with agreements reached
since the opening of the peace process as evidence of a lack of good
faith. This conclusion led to an erosion of trust even before the
permanent status negotiations began.
Divergent Perspectives: During the last seven months, these
views have hardened into divergent realities. Each side views the other as
having acted in bad faith; as having turned the optimism of Oslo into the
suffering and grief of victims and their loved ones. In their statements
and actions, each side demonstrates a perspective that fails to recognize
any truth in the perspective of the other.
The Palestinian Perspective: For the Palestinian side, “Madrid”
and “Oslo” heralded the prospect of a State, and guaranteed an end to the
occupation and a resolution of outstanding matters within an agreed time
frame. Palestinians are genuinely angry at the continued growth of
settlements and at their daily experiences of humiliation and disruption
as a result of Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinians see settlers and settlements in their midst not only as
violating the spirit of the Oslo process, but also as an application of
force in the form of Israel’s overwhelming military superiority, which
sustains and protects the settlements.
The Interim Agreement provides that “the two parties view the West Bank
and Gaza as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which
will be preserved during the interim period.” Coupled with this, the
Interim Agreement’s prohibition on taking steps which may prejudice
permanent status negotiations denies Israel the right to continue its
illegal expansionist settlement policy. In addition to the Interim
Agreement, customary international law, including the Fourth Geneva
Convention, prohibits Israel (as an occupying power) from
establishing settlements in occupied territory pending an end to the
conflict.17
The PLO alleges that Israeli political leaders “have made no secret of
the fact that the Israeli interpretation of Oslo was designed to segregate
the Palestinians in non-contiguous enclaves, surrounded by Israeli
military-controlled borders, with settlements and settlement roads
violating the territories’ integrity.”18 According to the PLO, “In the seven years
since the [Declaration of Principles], the settler population in the West
Bank, excluding East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, has doubled to 200,000,
and the settler population in East Jerusalem has risen to 170,000. Israel
has constructed approximately 30 new settlements, and expanded a number of
existing ones to house these new settlers.”19
The PLO also claims that the GOI has failed to comply with other
commitments such as the further withdrawal from the West Bank and the
release of Palestinian prisoners. In addition, Palestinians expressed
frustration with the impasse over refugees and the deteriorating economic
circumstances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Perspective: From the GOI perspective, the expansion
of settlement activity and the taking of measures to facilitate the
convenience and safety of settlers do not prejudice the outcome of
permanent status negotiations.

Israel understands that the Palestinian side objects to the
settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Without prejudice to
the formal status of the settlements, Israel accepts that the
settlements are an outstanding issue on which there will have to be
agreement as part of any permanent status resolution between the sides.
This point was acknowledged and agreed upon in the Declaration of
Principles of 13 September 1993 as well as in other agreements between
the two sides. There has in fact been a good deal of discussion on the
question of settlements between the two sides in the various
negotiations toward a permanent status agreement.20

Indeed, Israelis point out that at the Camp David summit and during
subsequent talks the GOI offered to make significant concessions with
respect to settlements in the context of an overall agreement.
Security, however, is the key GOI concern. The GOI maintains that the
PLO has breached its solemn commitments by continuing the use of violence
in the pursuit of political objectives. “Israel’s principal concern in the
peace process has been security. This issue is of overriding
importance… [S]ecurity is not something on which Israel will
bargain or compromise. The failure of the Palestinian side to comply with
both the letter and spirit of the security provisions in the various
agreements has long been a source of disturbance in Israel.”21
According to the GOI, the Palestinian failure takes several forms:
institutionalized anti-Israel, anti-Jewish incitement; the release from
detention of terrorists; the failure to control illegal weapons; and the
actual conduct of violent operations, ranging from the insertion of
riflemen into demonstrations to terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.
The GOI maintains that the PLO has explicitly violated its renunciation of
terrorism and other acts of violence,22 thereby significantly eroding trust
between the parties. The GOI perceives “a thread, implied but nonetheless
clear, that runs throughout the Palestinian submissions. It is that
Palestinian violence against Israel and Israelis is somehow explicable,
understandable, legitimate.”23

END THE VIOLENCE
For Israelis and Palestinians alike the experience of the past several
months has been intensely personal. Through relationships of
kinship, friendship, religion, community and profession, virtually
everyone in both societies has a link to someone who has been killed or
seriously injured in the recent violence. We were touched by their
stories. During our last visit to the region, we met with the families of
Palestinian and Israeli victims. These individual accounts of grief were
heart-rending and indescribably sad. Israeli and Palestinian families used
virtually the same words to describe their grief.
When the widow of a murdered Israeli physician — a man of peace whose
practice included the treatment of Arab patients — tells us that it seems
that Palestinians are interested in killing Jews for the sake of killing
Jews, Palestinians should take notice. When the parents of a Palestinian
child killed while in his bed by an errant .50 caliber bullet draw similar
conclusions about the respect accorded by Israelis to Palestinian lives,
Israelis need to listen. When we see the shattered bodies of children we
know it is time for adults to stop the violence.
With widespread violence, both sides have resorted to portrayals of the
other in hostile stereotypes. This cycle cannot be easily broken. Without
considerable determination and readiness to compromise, the rebuilding of
trust will be impossible.
Cessation of Violence: Since 1991, the parties have consistently
committed themselves, in all their agreements, to the path of nonviolence.
They did so most recently in the two Sharm el-Sheikh summits of September
1999 and October 2000. To stop the violence now, the PA and GOI need not
“reinvent the wheel.” Rather, they should take immediate steps to end the
violence, reaffirm their mutual commitments, and resume negotiations.
Resumption of Security Cooperation: Palestinian security
officials told us that it would take some time — perhaps several weeks –
for the PA to reassert full control over armed elements nominally under
its command and to exert decisive influence over other armed elements
operating in Palestinian areas. Israeli security officials have not
disputed these assertions. What is important is that the PA make an
all-out effort to enforce a complete cessation of violence and that it be
clearly seen by the GOI as doing so. The GOI must likewise exercise a 100
percent effort to ensure that potential friction points, where
Palestinians come into contact with armed Israelis, do not become stages
for renewed hostilities.
The collapse of security cooperation in early October reflected the
belief by each party that the other had committed itself to a violent
course of action. If the parties wish to attain the standard of 100
percent effort to prevent violence, the immediate resumption of security
cooperation is mandatory.
We acknowledge the reluctance of the PA to be seen as facilitating the
work of Israeli security services absent an explicit political context
(i.e., meaningful negotiations) and under the threat of Israeli settlement
expansion. Indeed, security cooperation cannot be sustained without such
negotiations and with ongoing actions seen as prejudicing the outcome of
negotiations. However, violence is much more likely to continue without
security cooperation. Moreover, without effective security cooperation,
the parties will continue to regard all acts of violence as officially
sanctioned.
In order to overcome the current deadlock, the parties should consider
how best to revitalize security cooperation. We commend current efforts to
that end. Effective cooperation depends on recreating and sustaining an
atmosphere of confidence and good personal relations. It is for the
parties themselves to undertake the main burden of day-to-day cooperation,
but they should remain open to engaging the assistance of others in
facilitating that work. Such outside assistance should be by mutual
consent, should not threaten good bilateral working arrangements, and
should not act as a tribunal or interpose between the parties. There was
good security cooperation until last year that benefited from the good
offices of the U.S. (acknowledged by both sides as useful), and was also
supported indirectly by security projects and assistance from the European
Union. The role of outside assistance should be that of creating the
appropriate framework, sustaining goodwill on both sides, and removing
friction where possible. That framework must be seen to be contributing to
the safety and welfare of both communities if there is to be acceptance by
those communities of these efforts.

REBUILD CONFIDENCE
The historic handshake between Chairman Arafat and the late Prime
Minister Rabin at the White House in September 1993 symbolized the
expectation of both parties that the door to the peaceful resolution of
differences had been opened. Despite the current violence and mutual loss
of trust, both communities have repeatedly expressed a desire for peace.
Channeling this desire into substantive progress has proved difficult. The
restoration of trust is essential, and the parties should take affirmative
steps to this end. Given the high level of hostility and mistrust, the
timing and sequence of these steps are obviously crucial. This can be
decided only by the parties. We urge them to begin the process of decision
immediately.
Terrorism: In the September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, the
parties pledged to take action against “any threat or act of terrorism,
violence or incitement.” Although all three categories of hostilities are
reprehensible, it was no accident that “terrorism” was placed at the top
of the list.
Terrorism involves the deliberate killing and injuring of randomly
selected noncombatants for political ends. It seeks to promote a political
outcome by spreading terror and demoralization throughout a population. It
is immoral and ultimately self-defeating. We condemn it and we urge that
the parties coordinate their security efforts to eliminate it.
In its official submissions and briefings, the GOI has accused the PA
of supporting terrorism by releasing incarcerated terrorists, by allowing
PA security personnel to abet, and in some cases to conduct terrorist
operations, and by terminating security cooperation with the GOI The PA
vigorously denies the accusations. But Israelis hold the view that the
PA’s leadership has made no real effort over the past seven months to
prevent anti-Israeli terrorism. The belief is, in and of itself, a major
obstacle to the rebuilding of confidence.
We believe that the PA has a responsibility to help rebuild confidence
by making clear to both communities that terrorism is reprehensible and
unacceptable, and by taking all measures to prevent terrorist operations
and to punish perpetrators. This effort should include immediate steps to
apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating within the PA’s
jurisdiction.
Settlements: The GOI also has a responsibility to help rebuild
confidence. A cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be
particularly hard to sustain unless the GOI freezes all settlement
construction activity. The GOI should also give careful consideration to
whether settlements that are focal points for substantial friction are
valuable bargaining chips for future negotiations or provocations likely
to preclude the onset of productive talks.
The issue is, of course, controversial. Many Israelis will regard our
recommendation as a statement of the obvious, and will support it. Many
will oppose it. But settlement activities must not be allowed to undermine
the restoration of calm and the resumption of negotiations.
During the half-century of its existence, Israel has had the strong
support of the United States. In international forums, the U.S. has at
times cast the only vote on Israel’s behalf. Yet, even in such a close
relationship there are some differences. Prominent among those differences
is the U.S. Government’s long-standing opposition to the GOI’s policies
and practices regarding settlements. As the then-Secretary of State, James
A. Baker, III, commented on May 22, 1991:

Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace
process, on each of my four trips, I have been met with the announcement
of new settlement activity. This does violate United States policy. It’s
the first thing that Arabs — Arab Governments, the first thing that the
Palestinians in the territories — whose situation is really quite
desperate — the first thing they raise when we talk to them. I don’t
think there is any bigger obstacle to peace than the settlement activity
that continues not only unabated but at an enhanced pace.24

The policy described by Secretary Baker, on behalf of the
Administration of President George H. W. Bush, has been, in essence, the
policy of every American administration over the past quarter century.25
Most other countries, including Turkey, Norway, and those of the
European Union, have also been critical of Israeli settlement activity, in
accordance with their views that such settlements are illegal under
international law and not in compliance with previous agreements.
On each of our two visits to the region there were Israeli
announcements regarding expansion of settlements, and it was almost always
the first issue raised by Palestinians with whom we met. During our last
visit, we observed the impact of 6,400 settlers on 140,000 Palestinians in
Hebron26 and 6,500 settlers on over 1,100,000
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.27 The GOI describes its policy as
prohibiting new settlements but permitting expansion of exiting
settlements to accommodate “natural growth.” Palestinians contend that
there is no distinction between “new” and “expanded” settlements; and
that, except for a brief freeze during the tenure of Prime Minister Yitzak
Rabin, there has been a continuing, aggressive effort by Israel to
increase the number and size of settlements.
The subject has been widely discussed within Israel. The Ha’aretz
English Language Edition editorial of April 10, 2001 stated:

A government which seeks to argue that its goal is to reach a
solution to the conflict with the Palestinians through peaceful means,
and is trying at this stage to bring an end to the violence and
terrorism, must announce an end to construction in the settlements.28

The circumstances in the region are much changed from those which
existed nearly 20 years ago. Yet, President Reagan’s words remain
relevant: “The immediate adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more
than any other action, could create the confidence needed…”
Beyond the obvious confidence-building qualities of a settlement
freeze, we note that many of the confrontations during this conflict have
occurred at points where Palestinians, settlers, and security forces
protecting the settlers, meet. Keeping both the peace and these friction
points will be very difficult.
Reducing Tension: We were told by both Palestinians and Israelis
that emotions generated by the many recent deaths and funerals have fueled
additional confrontations, and, in effect, maintained the cycle of
violence. We cannot urge one side or the other to refrain from
demonstrations. But both sides must make clear that violent demonstrations
will not be tolerated. We can and do urge that both sides exhibit a
greater respect for human life when demonstrators confront security
personnel. In addition, a renewed effort to stop the violence might
feature, for a limited time, a “cooling off” period during which public
demonstrations at or near friction points will be discouraged in order to
break the cycle of violence. To the extent that demonstrations continue,
we urge that demonstrators and security personnel keep their distance from
one another to reduce the potential for lethal confrontation.
Actions and Responses: Members of the Committee staff witnessed
an incident involving stone throwing in Ramallah from the perspectives, on
the ground, of both sides. The people confronting one another were mostly
young men. The absence of senior leadership on the IDF side was striking.
Likewise, the absence of responsible security and other officials
counseling restraint on the Palestinian side was obvious.
Concerning such confrontations, the GOI takes the position that “Israel
is engaged in an armed conflict short of war. This is not a civilian
disturbance or a demonstration or a riot. It is characterized by live-fire
attacks on a significant scale [emphasis added] … [T]he attacks are
carried out by a well-armed and organized militia…”29 Yet, the GOI acknowledges that of some
9,000 “attacks” by Palestinians against Israelis, “some 2,700 [about 30
percent] involved the use of automatic weapons, rifles, hand guns,
grenades, [and] explosives of other kinds.”30
Thus, for the first three months of the current uprising, most
incidents did not involve Palestinian use of firearms and
explosives. B’Tselem reported that, “according to IDF figures, 73 percent
of the incidents [from September 29 to December 2, 2000] did not include
Palestinian gunfire. Despite this, it was in these incidents that most of
the Palestinians [were] killed and wounded. . .”

Altogether, nearly 500 people were killed
and over 10,000 injured over the past seven months; the overwhelming
majority in both categories were Palestinian. Many of these deaths were
avoidable, as were many Israeli deaths.
Israel’s characterization of the conflict, as noted above, is overly
broad, for it does not adequately describe the variety of incidents
reported since late September 2000. Moreover, by thus defining the
conflict, the IDF has suspended its policy of mandating investigations by
the Department of Military Police Investigations whenever a Palestinian in
the territories dies at the hands of an IDF soldier in an incident not
involving terrorism. In the words of the GOI, “Where Israel considers that
there is reason to investigate particular incidents, it does so, although,
given the circumstances of armed conflict, it does not do so routinely.”32 We believe, however, that by abandoning
the blanket “armed conflict short of war” characterization and by
re-instituting mandatory military police investigations, the GOI could
help mitigate deadly violence and help rebuild mutual confidence.
Notwithstanding the danger posed by stone-throwers, an effort should be
made to differentiate between terrorism and protests.
Controversy has arisen between the parties over what Israel calls the
“targeting of individual enemy combatants.”33 The PLO describes these actions as
“extra-judicial executions,”34 and claims that Israel has engaged in an
“assassination policy” that is “in clear violation of Article 32 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention… .”35 The GOI states that, “whatever action
Israel has taken has been taken firmly within the bounds of the relevant
and accepted principles relating to the conduct of hostilities.”36
With respect to demonstrations, the GOI has acknowledged “that
individual instances of excessive response may have occurred. To a soldier
or a unit coming under Palestinian attack, the equation is not that of the
Israeli army versus some stone throwing Palestinian protesters. It is a
personal equation.”37
We understand this concern, particularly since rocks can maim or even
kill. It is no easy matter for a few young soldiers, confronted by large
numbers of hostile demonstrators, to make fine legal distinctions on the
spot. Still, this “personal equation” must fit within an organizational
ethic; in this case, The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces,
which states, in part:

The sanctity of human life in the eyes of the IDF servicemen will
find expression in all of their actions, in deliberate and meticulous
planning, in safe and intelligent training and in proper execution of
their mission. In evaluating the risk to self and others, they will use
the appropriate standards and will exercise constant care to limit
injury to life to the extent required to accomplish the mission.38

Those required to respect the IDF ethical code are largely draftees, as
the IDF is a conscript force. Active duty enlisted personnel,
noncommissioned officers and junior officers — the categories most likely
to be present at friction points — are young, often teenagers. Unless
more senior career personnel or reservists are stationed at friction
points, no IDF personnel present in these sensitive areas have experience
to draw upon from previous violent Israeli-Palestinian confrontations. We
think it is essential, especially in the context of restoring confidence
by minimizing deadly confrontations, that the IDF deploy more senior,
experienced soldiers to these sensitive points.
There were incidents where IDF soldiers have used lethal force,
including live ammunition and modified metal-cored rubber rounds, against
unarmed demonstrators throwing stones.39 The IDF should adopt crowd-control
tactics that minimize the potential for deaths and casualties, withdrawing
metal-cored rubber rounds from general use and using instead rubber baton
rounds without metal cores.
We are deeply concerned about the public safety implications of
exchanges of fire between populated areas, in particular between Israeli
settlements and neighboring Palestinian villages. Palestinian gunmen have
directed small arms fire at Israeli settlements and at nearby IDF
positions from within or adjacent to civilian dwellings in Palestinian
areas, thus endangering innocent, Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.
We condemn the positioning of gunmen within or near civilian dwellings.
The IDF often responds to such gunfire with heavy caliber weapons,
sometimes resulting in deaths and injuries to innocent Palestinians. An
IDF officer told us at the Ministry of Defense on March 23, 2001 that,
“When shooting comes from a building we respond, and sometimes there are
innocent people in the building.” Obviously, innocent people are injured
and killed during exchanges of this nature. We urge that such provocations
cease and that the IDF exercise maximum restraint in its responses if they
do occur. Inappropriate or excessive uses of force often lead to
escalation.
We are aware of IDF sensitivities about these subjects. More than once
we were asked: “What about Palestinian rules of engagement? What about a
Palestinian code of ethics for their military personnel?” These are valid
questions.
On the Palestinian side there are disturbing ambiguities in the basic
areas of responsibility and accountability. The lack of control exercised
by the PA over its own security personnel and armed elements affiliated
with the PA leadership is very troubling. We urge the PA to take all
necessary steps to establish a clear and unchallenged chain of command for
armed personnel operating under its authority. We recommend that the PA
institute and enforce effective standards of conduct and accountability,
both within the uniformed ranks and between the police and the civilian
political leadership to which it reports.
Incitement: In their submissions and briefings to the Committee,
both sides expressed concerns about hateful language and images emanating
from the other, citing numerous examples of hostile sectarian and ethnic
rhetoric in the Palestinian and Israeli media, in school curricula and in
statements by religious leaders, politicians and others.
We call on the parties to renew their formal commitments to foster
mutual understanding and tolerance and to abstain from incitement and
hostile propaganda. We condemn hate language and incitement in all its
forms. We suggest that the parties be particularly cautious about using
words in a manner that suggests collective responsibility.
Economic and Social Impact of Violence: Further restrictions on
the movement of people and goods have been imposed by Israel on the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. These closures take three forms: those which
restrict movement between the Palestinian areas and Israel; those
(including curfews) which restrict movement within the Palestinian areas;
and those which restrict movement from the Palestinian areas to foreign
countries. These measures have disrupted the lives of hundreds of
thousands of Palestinians; they have increased Palestinian unemployment to
an estimated 40 percent, in part by preventing some 140,000 Palestinians
from working in Israel; and have stripped away about one-third of the
Palestinian gross domestic product. Moreover, the transfer of tax and
customs duty revenues owed to the PA by Israel has been suspended, leading
to a serious fiscal crisis in the PA.
Of particular concern to the PA has been the destruction by Israeli
security forces and settlers of tens of thousands of olive and fruit trees
and other agricultural property. The closures have had other adverse
effects, such as preventing civilians from access to urgent medical
treatment and preventing students from attending school.
The GOI maintains that these measures were taken in order to protect
Israeli citizens from terrorism. Palestinians characterize these measures
as “collective punishment.” The GOI denies the allegation:

Israel has not taken measures that have had an economic impact simply
for the sake of taking such measures or for reasons of harming the
Palestinian economy. The measures have been taken for reasons of
security. Thus, for example, the closure of the Palestinian territories
was taken in order to prevent, or at least minimize the risks of,
terrorist attacks. … The Palestinian leadership has made no attempt to
control this activity and bring it to an end.40

Moreover, the GOI points out that violence in the last quarter of 2000
cost the Israeli economy $1.2 billion (USD), and that the loss continues
at a rate of approximately $150 million (USD) per month.41
We acknowledge Israel’s security concerns. We believe, however, that
the GOI should lift closures, transfer to the PA all revenues owed, and
permit Palestinians who have been employed in Israel to return to their
jobs. Closure policies play into the hands of extremists seeking to expand
their constituencies and thereby contribute to escalation. The PA should
resume cooperation with Israeli security agencies to ensure that
Palestinian workers employed within Israel are fully vetted and free of
connections to terrorists and terrorist organizations.
International development assistance has from the start been an
integral part of the peace process, with an aim to strengthen the
socio-economic foundations for peace. This assistance today is more
important than ever. We urge the international community to sustain the
development agenda of the peace process.
Holy Places: It is particularly regrettable that places such as
the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus,
and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem have been the scenes of violence, death and
injury. These are places of peace, prayer and reflection which must be
accessible to all believers.
Places deemed holy by Muslims, Jews, and Christians merit respect,
protection and preservation. Agreements previously reached by the parties
regarding holy places must be upheld. The GOI and the PA should create a
joint initiative to defuse the sectarian aspect of their political dispute
by preserving and protecting such places. Efforts to develop inter-faith
dialogue should be encouraged.
International Force: One of the most controversial subjects
raised during our inquiry was the issue of deploying an international
force to the Palestinian areas. The PA is strongly in favor of having such
a force to protect Palestinian civilians and their property from the IDF
and from settlers. The GOI is just as adamantly opposed to an
“international protection force,” believing that it would prove
unresponsive to Israeli security concerns and interfere with bilateral
negotiations to settle the conflict.
We believe that to be effective such a force would need the support of
both parties. We note that international forces deployed in this region
have been or are in a position to fulfill their mandates and make a
positive contribution only when they were deployed with the consent of all
of the parties involved.
During our visit to Hebron, we were briefed by personnel of the
Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a presence to which
both parties have agreed. The TIPH is charged with observing an explosive
situation and writing reports on their observations. If the parties agree,
as a confidence-building measure, to draw upon TIPH personnel to help them
manage other friction points, we hope that TIPH contributors could
accommodate such a request.
Cross-Community Initiatives: Many described to us the near
absolute loss of trust. It was all the more inspiring, therefore, to find
groups (such as the Parent’s Circle and the Economic Cooperation
Foundation) dedicated to cross-community understanding in spite of all
that has happened. We commend them and their important work.
Regrettably, most of the work of this nature has stopped during the
current conflict. To help rebuild confidence, the GOI and PA should
jointly endorse and support the work of Israeli and Palestinian
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) already involved in
confidence-building through initiatives linking both sides. It is
important that the PA and GOI support cross-community organizations and
initiatives, including the provision of humanitarian assistance to
Palestinian villages by Israeli NGOs. Providing travel permits for
participants is essential. Cooperation between the humanitarian
organizations and the military/security services of the parties should be
encouraged and institutionalized.
Such programs can help build, albeit slowly, constituencies for peace
among Palestinians and Israelis and can provide safety nets during times
of turbulence. Organizations involved in this work are vital for
translating good intentions into positive actions.

RESUME NEGOTIATIONS
Israeli leaders do not wish to be perceived as “rewarding violence.”
Palestinian leaders do not wish to be perceived as “rewarding occupation.”
We appreciate the political constraints on leaders of both sides.
Nevertheless, if the cycle of violence is to be broken and the search for
peace resumed, there needs to be a new bilateral relationship
incorporating both security cooperation and negotiations.
We cannot prescribe to the parties how best to pursue their political
objectives. Yet the construction of a new bilateral relationship
solidifying and transcending an agreed cessation of violence requires
intelligent risk-taking. It requires, in the first instance, that each
party again be willing to regard the other as a partner. Partnership, in
turn, requires at this juncture something more than was agreed in the
Declaration of Principles and in subsequent agreements. Instead of
declaring the peace process to be “dead,” the parties should determine how
they will conclude their common journey along their agreed “road map,” a
journey which began in Madrid and continued — in spite of problems — until
very recently.
To define a starting point is for the parties to decide. Both parties
have stated that they remain committed to their mutual agreements and
undertakings. It is time to explore further implementation. The parties
should declare their intention to meet on this basis, in order to resume
full and meaningful negotiations, in the spirit of their undertakings at
Sharm el-Sheikh in 1999 and 2000.
Neither side will be able to achieve its principal objectives
unilaterally or without political risk. We know how hard it is for leaders
to act — especially if the action can be characterized by political
opponents as a concession — without getting something in return. The PA
must — as it has at previous critical junctures — take steps to reassure
Israel on security matters. The GOI must — as it has in the past — take
steps to reassure the PA on political matters. Israelis and Palestinians
should avoid, in their own actions and attitudes, giving extremists,
common criminals and revenge seekers the final say in defining their joint
future. This will not be easy if deadly incidents occur in spite of
effective cooperation. Notwithstanding the daunting difficulties, the very
foundation of the trust required to re-establish a functioning partnership
consists of each side making such strategic reassurances to the other.

RECOMMENDATIONS
The GOI and the PA must act swiftly and decisively to halt the
violence. Their immediate objectives then should be to rebuild confidence
and resume negotiations. What we are asking is not easy. Palestinians and
Israelis — not just their leaders, but two publics at large — have lost
confidence in one another. We are asking political leaders to do, for the
sake of their people, the politically difficult: to lead without knowing
how many will follow.
During this mission our aim has been to fulfill the mandate agreed at
Sharm el-Sheikh. We value the support given our work by the participants
at the summit, and we commend the parties for their cooperation. Our
principal recommendation is that they recommit themselves to the Sharm
el-Sheikh spirit, and that they implement the decisions made there in 1999
and 2000. We believe that the summit participants will support bold action
by the parties to achieve these objectives.

END THE VIOLENCE

  • The GOI and the PA should reaffirm their commitment to existing
    agreements and undertakings and should immediately implement an
    unconditional cessation of violence.
    Anything less than a complete effort by both parties to end the
    violence will render the effort itself ineffective, and will likely be
    interpreted by the other side as evidence of hostile intent.
  • The GOI and PA should immediately resume security cooperation.
    Effective bilateral cooperation aimed at preventing violence will
    encourage the resumption of negotiations. We are particularly concerned
    that, absent effective, transparent security cooperation, terrorism and
    other acts of violence will continue and may be seen as officially
    sanctioned whether they are or not. The parties should consider widening
    the scope of security cooperation to reflect the priorities of both
    communities and to seek acceptance for these efforts from those
    communities.
    We acknowledge the PA’s position that security cooperation presents a
    political difficulty absent a suitable political context, i.e., the
    relaxation of stringent Israeli security measures combined with ongoing,
    fruitful negotiations. We also acknowledge the PA’s fear that, with
    security cooperation in hand, the GOI may not be disposed to deal
    forthrightly with Palestinian political concerns. We believe that
    security cooperation cannot long be sustained if meaningful negotiations
    are unreasonably deferred, if security measures “on the ground” are seen
    as hostile, or if steps are taken that are perceived as provocative or
    as prejudicing the outcome of negotiations.

REBUILD CONFIDENCE

  • The PA and GOI should work together to establish a meaningful
    “cooling off period” and implement additional confidence building
    measures, some of which were proposed in the October 2000 Sharm
    el-Sheikh Statement and some of which were offered by the U.S. on
    January 7, 2001 in Cairo.
  • The PA and GOI should resume their efforts to identify, condemn and
    discourage incitement in all its forms.
  • The PA should make clear through concrete action to Palestinians and
    Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable, and
    that the PA will make a 100 percent effort to prevent terrorist
    operations and to punish perpetrators. This effort should include
    immediate steps to apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating within
    the PA’s jurisdiction.
  • The GOI should freeze all settlement activity, including the “natural

    growth” of existing settlements.

The kind of security cooperation desired by the GOI cannot for long
co-exist with settlement activity described very recently by the European
Union as causing “great concern” and by the U.S. as “provocative.”

  • The GOI should give careful consideration to whether settlements
    which are focal points for substantial friction are valuable
    bargaining chips for future negotiations or provocations likely to
    preclude the onset of productive talks.
  • The GOI may wish to make it clear to the PA that a future peace
    would pose no threat to the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian
    State to be established in the West Bank and the Gaza
    Strip.
  • The IDF should consider withdrawing to positions held before
    September 28, 2000 which will reduce the number of friction points and
    the potential for violent confrontations.
  • The GOI should ensure that the IDF adopt and enforce policies and
    procedures encouraging non-lethal responses to unarmed demonstrators,
    with a view to minimizing casualties and friction between the two
    communities. The IDF should:

    • Re-institute, as a matter of course, military police investigations
      into Palestinian deaths resulting from IDF actions in the Palestinian
      territories in incidents not involving terrorism. The IDF should
      abandon the blanket characterization of the current uprising as “an
      armed conflict short of war,” which fails to discriminate between
      terrorism and protest.
    • Adopt tactics of crowd-control that minimize the potential for
      deaths and casualties, including the withdrawal of metal-cored rubber
      rounds from general use.
    • Ensure that experienced, seasoned personnel are present for duty at
      all times at known friction points.
    • Ensure that the stated values and standard operating procedures of
      the IDF effectively instill the duty of caring for Palestinians in the
      West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as Israelis living there, consistent
      with The Ethical Code of The IDF.
  • The GOI should lift closures, transfer to the PA all tax revenues
    owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed in Israel to return
    to their jobs; and should ensure that security forces and settlers
    refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as trees and
    other agricultural property in Palestinian areas. We acknowledge the
    GOI’s position that actions of this nature have been taken for security
    reasons. Nevertheless, their economic effects will persist for
    years.
  • The PA should renew cooperation with Israeli security agencies to
    ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that Palestinian workers
    employed within Israel are fully vetted and free of connections to
    organizations and individuals engaged in terrorism.
  • The PA should prevent gunmen from using Palestinian populated areas
    to fire upon Israeli populated areas and IDF positions. This tactic
    places civilians on both sides at unnecessary risk.
  • The GOI and IDF should adopt and enforce policies and procedures
    designed to ensure that the response to any gunfire emanating from
    Palestinian populated areas minimizes the danger to the lives and
    property of Palestinian civilians, bearing in mind that it is probably
    the objective of gunmen to elicit an excessive IDF response.
  • The GOI should take all necessary steps to prevent acts of violence
    by settlers.
  • The parties should abide by the provisions of the Wye River Agreement
    prohibiting illegal weapons.
  • The PA should take all necessary steps to establish a clear and
    unchallenged chain of command for armed personnel operating under its
    authority.
  • The PA should institute and enforce effective standards of conduct
    and accountability, both within the uniformed ranks and between the
    police and the civilian political leadership to which it reports.
  • The PA and GOI should consider a joint undertaking to preserve and
    protect holy places sacred to the traditions of Muslims, Jews, and
    Christians. An initiative of this nature might help to reverse a
    disturbing trend: the increasing use of religious themes to encourage
    and justify violence.
  • The GOI and PA should jointly endorse and support the work of
    Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved
    in cross-community initiatives linking the two peoples. It is important
    that these activities, including the provision of humanitarian aid to
    Palestinian villages by Israeli NGOs, receive the full backing of both
    parties.
    • RESUME NEGOTIATIONS

      • We reiterate our belief that a 100 percent effort to stop the
        violence, an immediate resumption of security cooperation and an
        exchange of confidence building measures are all important for the
        resumption of negotiations. Yet none of these steps will long be
        sustained absent a return to serious negotiations.

      It is not within our mandate to prescribe the venue, the basis or the
      agenda of negotiations. However, in order to provide an effective
      political context for practical cooperation between the parties,
      negotiations must not be unreasonably deferred and they must, in our view,
      manifest a spirit of compromise, reconciliation and partnership,
      notwithstanding the events of the past seven months.

      • In the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and understandings
        of 1999 and 2000, we recommend that the parties meet to reaffirm their
        commitment to signed agreements and mutual understandings, and take
        corresponding action. This should be the basis for resuming full and
        meaningful negotiations.

      The parties are at a crossroads. If they do not return to the
      negotiating table, they face the prospect of fighting it out for years on
      end, with many of their citizens leaving for distant shores to live their
      lives and raise their children. We pray they make the right choice. That
      means stopping the violence now. Israelis and Palestinians have to live,
      work, and prosper together. History and geography have destined them to be
      neighbors. That cannot be changed. Only when their actions are guided by
      this awareness will they be able to develop the vision and reality of
      peace and shared prosperity.
      Suleyman Demirel
      9th President of the Republic of Turkey
      Thorbjoern Jagland
      Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
      George J. Mitchell, Chairman
      Former Member and Majority
      Leader of the United States Senate
      Warren B. Rudman
      Former Member of the United States
      Senate
      Javier Solana
      High Representative for the Common Foreign and
      Security Policy, European Union


      Notes:
      1 A copy of the statement is attached.
      2 Copies of the President’s letters are attached.
      3 When informed of the planned visit, Ambassador Dennis
      Ross (President Clinton’s Middle East Envoy) said that he told Israeli
      Minister of Interior Shlomo Ben-Ami, “I can think of a lot of bad ideas,
      but I can’t think of a worse one.” See Jane Perlez, “US Envoy Recalls the
      Day Pandora’s Box Wouldn’t Shut,” The New York Times, January 29,
      2001.
      4 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2000
      (Israel)
      , Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, February
      2001.
      5< Government of Israel, First Statement, 28 December
      2000 (hereafter “GOI, First Statement“), para 187. B’Tselem (The
      Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories)
      reported that 70 police were injured.
      Disturbances also occurred within Israel’s Arab
      community, resulting in thirteen deaths. These events do not fall within
      the mandate of this Committee and are the subject of an official GOI
      inquiry.
      According to the GOI, the Palestinian
      Minister of Posts and Telecommunications declared at a rally in Lebanon in
      March 2001 that the confrontation with Israel had been planned following
      the Camp David Summit. See Government of Israel, Second Statement,
      20 March 2001 (hereafter, “GOI, Second Statement“), para 2.
      The PA provided the Committee a translation of a letter from the Minister,
      dated March 12, 2001, in which the Minister denied saying that the
      intifada was planned, and that his statement in Lebanon was misquoted and
      taken out of context. We were told by an Israeli Defense Force (IDF)
      intelligence officer that while the declaration itself was not definitive,
      it represented an “open-source” version of what was known to the IDF
      through “other means”; knowledge and means not shared by the IDF with the
      Committee.
      9 Palestine Liberation Organization, Preliminary
      Submission of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the International
      Commission of Inquiry
      , December 8, 2000, p. 10. Note: submissions to
      the Committee from the Palestinian side were made by the PLO.
      10 Palestine Liberation Organization, A Crisis of
      Faith: Second Submission of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the
      Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee
      , December 30,2000 (hereafter
      “PLO, Second Submission“), p. 16.
      11 See GOI, First Statement, para 286.
      12 Palestine Liberation Organization, Third Submission
      of The Palestine Liberation Organization to the Sharm El-Sheikh
      Fact-Finding Committee
      , April 3, 2001 (hereafter “PLO, Third
      Submission
      “), p. 51.
      13 GOI, Second Statement, para 4.
      14 GOI, First Statement, para 19.
      15 PLO, Third Submission, p. 25.
      16 Id., pp. 46-50.
      17 Id., pp. 27-28.
      18 PLO, Second Submission, p. 14.
      19 Id., pp. 14-15.
      20 GOI, Second Statement, para 82.
      21 GOI, First Statement, para 99.
      22 GOI Second Statement, para 19, referring to the Exchange of Notes
      Between the Prime Minister of Israel and the Chairman of the PLO, 9- 10
      September 1993
      .
      23 Id., para 21.
      24 Testimony before the United States House of
      Representatives Committee on Appropriations, 102nd Congress, May 22,
      1991.
      25 On March 21, 1980, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance,
      speaking on behalf of the Carter Administration, stated: “U.S. policy
      toward the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied
      territories is unequivocal and has long been a matter of public record. We
      consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the
      successful conclusion of the Middle East peace process.”
      On September 1, 1982, President Ronald Reagan announced what came to be
      known as The Reagan Plan for the Middle East, stating that: “[T]he
      immediate adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more than any other
      action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in
      these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the
      security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a
      final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.”
      On December 16, 1996, at a press conference, President Bill Clinton
      stated: “It just stands to reason that anything that preempts the outcome
      [of the negotiations] .. cannot be helpful in making peace. I don’t think
      anything should be done that would be seen as preempting the outcome.”
      Asked if he viewed the settlements as an obstacle to peace, President
      Clinton replied, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
      On April 5, 2001, a U.S. State Department spokesman, speaking for the
      current administration, stated: “Continuing settlement activity does risk
      inflaming an already volatile situation in the region”; he described that
      activity as “provocative.”
      26 There are 400 settlers in the “H2” sector of central
      Hebron, and 6,000 in the Kiryat Arba settlement on the eastern edge of the
      city. See “An Introduction to the City of Hebron,” published by the Temporary International Presence
      in Hebron
      .
      28Ha’aretz, English Language Edition, April 10,
      2001, p. 5.
      29 GOI, First Statement, para 286.
      30 Id., para 189.
      31 B’Tselem, Illusions of Restraint: Human Rights
      Violations During the Events in the Occupied Territories, 29 September-2
      December 2000
      , December 2000, p. 4.
      32 GOI, First Statement, para 306. “The stated
      policy of the IDF is that whenever a Palestinian in the Occupied
      Territories dies at the hands of a soldier, an investigation is to be made
      by the Department of Military Police Investigations (MPI), except in cases
      defined as ‘hostile terrorist activity.'” See B’Tselem, Illusions of
      Restraint
      , p. 24. See also, Alex Fishman, “The Intifada, the IDF and
      Investigations,” Yediot Aharonot (in English, Richard Bell Press,
      1996, Ltd.), January 19, 2001.
      33 GOI, Second Statement, para 69-80.
      34 PLO, Third Submission, p. 69.
      35 Id., p. 60.
      36 GOI, Second Statement, para 78.
      37 GOI, First Statement, para 305.
      38 Israel Defense Forces, The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces.
      39 See, e.g., U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000
      (Occupied Territories). See also, B’Tselem, Illusions of Restraint,
      pp. 15-16, reporting on the alleged practice of separating rubber bullets
      into individual rounds, as opposed to firing them properly in a bound
      cluster of three. Separation increases range and lethality.
      40 GOI, Second Statement, para 92.
      41 Id., para 89.

      -- Reacties gesloten.