Oslo Accords II

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OSLO ACCORDS II

On September 28 1995, after much negotiating, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasir Arafat, signed an agreement in Washington, called Oslo II, dealing with the extension of Palestinian autonomy over the West Bank. The agreement provided for Israeli evacuation of six cities in the West Bank, a partial withdrawal from the city of Hebron, the deployment of Palestinian police, and the organization of elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were to be divided into four zones. Zone A, which comprises 3 percent of the West Bank, would include the Gaza Strip and eight cities of the West Bank (Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and Hebron—the latter becoming the focus of special negotiations). In this zone the Palestinian Authority (PA) would be responsible for civil matters and security. Zone B, which comprises 24 percent of the West Bank and is essentially rural in character, includes West Bank villages where the PA would be responsible for civil affairs and for public order, with Israel reserving control of security. Zone C, which comprises 73 percent of the West Bank and where the majority of the Jewish colonies are located, would be entirely under the control of the Israel. Zone D is made up of frontiers, road interchanges, and military outposts responsible for the security of the Jewish colonies. On 6 October the Knesset approved the agreement by a vote of 61 to 59.

The Oslo peace process generated a number of subsequent Israeli-Palestinian agreements. On 23 October 1998, at the Wye Plantation in Maryland, after months of stalled negotiations, Arafat and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement on continued Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank under the sponsorship of U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Israel would transfer approximately 13 percent of the territory of the West Bank to the Palestinians: 1 percent of Zone A, and 12 percent of Zone B. The PA would gain control over 60 percent of the Gaza Strip and approximately 10 percent of the West Bank. On 18 November, the Knesset ratified the Wye River Accords, owing to the votes of the Left, by 75 to 19 with 9 abstentions and 17 absent. After Israel withdrew from almost 2 percent of the territory, under criticism by a portion of his majority, Netanyahu refused to continue applying the accord as long as the Palestinians declined to submit to five demands: 1) a commitment from the PA to respect its promises; 2) renunciation of any unilateral proclamation of an independent state with Jerusalem as capital; 3) cessation of all incitements to violence; 4) recognition that the Wye River Accords did not oblige Israel to release Palestinian "murderers"; 5) PA confiscation of illegally obtained arms in territories under its control, imprisonment of "murderers" and pursuit of security cooperation with Israel.

On 21 December 1998, by a vote of 81 to 30 with 4 abstentions and 5 absent, the Knesset rejected these propositions. The vote prompted the dissolution of the Knesset and the preparation of early general elections. Israeli-Palestinian accords were once more stalled. In August 1999 negotiations on the application of the Wye Plantation Accords, undertaken between Albright, new Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian negotiators once more snagged over the question of Palestinian prisoners. In the night of 4–5 September, Arafat and Barak signed the Sharm al-Shaykh Memorandum in Egypt, which it was thought would open the way to negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. The Wye Plantation treaty was endorsed by the Knesset on 8 September by a vote of 54 to 23 with 2 abstentions. The 17 SHAS representatives did not participate in the vote. On 19 September Israel transferred an additional 7 percent of the West Bank to the Palestine Authority.

SEE ALSO Albright, Madeleine; Arafat, Yasir; Barak, Ehud; Gaza Strip; Hebron; Knesset; Netanyahu, Benjamin; Palestine Liberation Organization; Palestinian Authority; Palestinian Legislative Council; Rabin, Yitzhak; Sharm al-Shaykh Memorandum; SHAS; West Bank.