Sharm Al-Shaykh Memorandum

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On the night of 4–5 September 1999, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak signed an accord at Sharm al-Shaykh, in Egypt, whose purpose was to open the way to final peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Ratified by King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, and American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the signing of this accord came after long negotiations undertaken within the framework of the application of the Wye Plantation Agreements.

The major points in the agreement concerned: The speedy liberation of 200 Palestinian prisoners, followed on October 8 by 150 other prisoners, then by a number to be determined by a commission; negotiations on the final status of Palestinian territories, which were to be reinstated rapidly and to conclude with an agreement within a year's time; Israeli military withdrawal (a week after the agreement, 7 percent of the West Bank would change from Zone C to a Zone B; on November 15 another 3 percent would change from Zone C to Zone B and of 2 percent from Zone B to Zone A; on January 20 5.1 percent would change from Zone B and 1 percent from Zone C to Zone A); a "secure" passage to allow Palestinians to move between Gaza and the West Bank; a new port, which would be constructed at Gaza; Shuhada Street, along a Jewish enclave in Hebron, which would be opened to Palestinian circulation; cooperation on matters of security; and a renunciation of unilateral measures to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from what was defined in the accord.

On 9 September the Knesset approved the accord by a vote of fifty-four to twenty-three, with two abstentions. Ten Arab members of parliament voted in favor. On 6 January 2000 Israel transferred control of ten villages near Ramallah (West Bank) to the PA as part of the withdrawal from 5 percent of the West Bank that it had begun the evening before. On 7 February the Israeli withdrawal was contested, causing the transfer of authority to stop and negotiations to stall. On 21 March the Israel Defense Force retreated from 6.1 percent of the West Bank, allowing the PA to exercise control over 40 percent of the West Bank. On 16 October, after three weeks of violent Palestinian-Israeli confrontations in the Palestinian territories that caused more than a hundred deaths, an international summit was organized at Sharm al-Shaykh to try to arrange an accord to restore calm and to restart the Israeli–Palestinian dialogue.

SEE ALSO Abdullah II ibn Hussein;Albright, Madeleine;Arafat, Yasir;Barak, Ehud;Gaza Strip;Israel Defense Force;Knesset;Mubarak, Husni;Oslo Accords II;Palestinian Authority;Sharm al-Shaykh Summits;West Bank.