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Saturday, 31 July, 1999, 10:59 GMT
Wye deal in the spotlight

Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank was at the heart of Wye

Since the election of Ehud Barak as Israeli prime minister the main issue on the Israeli-Palestinian track of the peace process has been whether or not he will implement the Wye River accord.

The deal was a package of measures signed in October 1998 by former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PLO leader Yasser Arafat and guaranteed by the United States President Bill Clinton.

Middle East
Within weeks, the deal - itself a clarification of the long-delayed Interim Agreement signed in 1994 - was behind schedule. Within months, Mr Netanyahu "suspended" it.

The former prime minister accused the Palestinians of reneging on the security clauses. Many Arabs suspected him of being unwilling or unable to withdraw from territory captured by Israel in 1967.

Mr Barak now wants to delay the last stage of withdrawal from the West Bank to tie in with so-called final status negotions on Jerusalem, borders, sovereignty and Palestinian refugees.

Mr Arafat believes this would strengthen the Israeli position in these negotiations, which deal with the most complicated of all Arab-Israeli issues. He therefore wants Wye implemented in full and as soon as possible.

Mr Barak has promised not to suspend implementation unilaterally.

The commitments made at Wye were as follows:

West Bank withdrawal
  • Relinquish another 13% of the West Bank to the Palestinians over a period of 90 days - 2% withdrawal completed.
  • Transfer 14.2% of West Bank land from joint Israeli-Palestinian control to Palestinian control.
  • Set up a joint committee with Palestinians to discuss third-phase troop withdrawals.

Safe passage

  • Create a safe passage corridor for the free movement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

Gaza Airport

  • Agree on opening a Palestinian airport and seaport in the southern Gaza Strip - Implemented.

Releasing prisoners

  • Release 750 alleged Palestinian political prisoners in three stages starting after the signing of the agreement - Partially implemented.

Security guarantees

  • Take action against militant groups and arrest 30 people accused by Israel of terrorism - Partially implemented.
  • Submit a detailed plan of action to arrest alleged terrorists and confiscate weapons under US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) supervision Implemented.

Charter amendment

  • Eliminate anti-Israel clauses in the Palestinian Covenant calling for the destruction of Israel - Implemented.

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