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The Modified Wye River Agreement

A Dangerous Sign for the so-called Final Status Negotiations.
The Modified Wye River Agreement
A Dangerous sign for the so-called “Final Status Negotiations”

By Dr. Mahir al-Tahir

Continuing the series of concessions made since the signing of the Oslo Accords six years ago, the 
Palestine Authority signed on 4 September 1999 new documents that serve the interests of Israel and 
contribute to the planned elimination of the Palestinian cause and the abandonment of the national rights of 
the Palestinian people.

It has become as clear as can be that the policy of concessions and yielding to the Zionist enemy practiced 
by the Palestine Authority is bottomless and limitless.  By the same token, the diminished status of the 
Palestinian negotiators has placed Israel in a position to simply impose its conditions and dictates, leaving 
the other side with no option but to answer and submit.

Any objective reading of the provisions of the Modified Wye Agreement shows unambiguously the extent 
to which the Palestine Authority has conceded and yielded without limit and without taking account of the 
interests and basic rights of the Palestinian people, of their future generations, their destiny, or their cause.  
The new Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has succeeded in competing with his predecessor Benjamin 
Netanyahu in achieving his demands, imposing new conditions, and wringing greater concessions out of 
the Palestinian side.  This time Barak resorted to the policy of issuing directives and warnings, leaving the 
Palestine Authority no option but to comply.  This constitutes a dangerous sign as to the direction things 
will take in coming phases of the negotiations, particularly the so-called final status negotiations.

By means of the Wye Agreement as amended at Sharm al-Shaykh, the Israeli prime-minister has been able 
to affirm the principle of re-negotiating issues already negotiated, reducing the level of Palestinian demands 
which were already much diminished – in the first Wye River Accord.  As is known, the new agreement 
which was signed in Sharm al-Shaykh is the sixth after the signing of the Oslo Accords: a fact that confirms 
that every provision of the Oslo Accords requires more negotiating and agreements.  This clearly 
demonstrates the extent of the disaster that derives from Oslo; the destructive results ofwhich become more 
and more obvious as the days pass.

Without doubt the most dangerous aspect of the Modified Wye Agreement is the Palestinian acceptance of 
Barak’s demand to postpone the third stage of the Israeli troop withdrawal, which was originally supposed 
to take place during the interim phase.  Now, instead, it is to be included in what is called the final status 
settlement.  Barak’s aim in insisting on this point was to establish that the authority for the so-called final 
status negotiations are the Oslo Agreements and not the demands of international legality, the principles of 
international law, and the United Nations resolutions pertinent to the Palestinian case such as Resolution 
181 and Resolution 194 that concern the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes which they left 
in 1948.

Barak knows as well that he will not be giving anything to the Palestinian side with regard to the issues of 
Jerusalem and the refugees.  For that reason he seeks to postpone some of the issues which were supposed 
to be dealt with in the interim phase to merge them into the so-called final status so that the Palestinian 
negotiators would have to barter them away in the coming phase of the talks.

What the Modified Wye Agreement stipulates about concluding the final status negotiations within one 
year, that is by September 2000, poses many questions as to whether these negotiations between the 
Palestinian and Israeli sides have not already, in fact, gone a long way in secret, far from the eyes of the 
Palestinian people.  This was the case with the secret talks which went on for nine months prior to the 
signing of the Oslo Accords, and which came as a surprise to the Palestinian people and the Arab Nation.

The Palestinian negotiators of the Sharm al-Shaykh Agreement bargained over the Palestinian prisoners 
and detainees in the Occupation’s prisons, after they had claimed repeatedly that there would be no 
bargaining over this issue.  The result, on the contrary, was their submission to what the Israeli negotiators 
wanted when the latter imposed the principle of splitting up the cases of imprisoned militants, dividing 
them into groups: prisoners from Jerusalem, prisoners from the part of Palestine occupied in 1948, 
prisoners from other Arab countries, and what they called the prisoners whose “hands were stained with 
blood.”  The Palestine Authority agreed to all the Israeli conditions concerning the prisoners, even 
backtracking on the number of them whom the enemy was required to release.  In the end the Palestinian 
negotiators accepted a release of only 350 of them.

Similarly, the Palestinian side yielded to the desire of the Israeli government to postpone the issue of the 
declaration of a Palestinian state, making it contingent upon Israeli agreement to it.  The meaning of this is 
that the Palestinian state would only exist according to the specifications and criteria that conform to 
Israel’s security interests and concepts.  In reality on the ground, it would in no way be an independent and 
truly sovereign state.

Previously the Palestine Authority had declared that it would proclaim the establishment of the Palestinian 
state after the completion of the interim phase of the negotiations, “regardless of what anybody likes or 
wants.”  But they backtracked from that and called for the convening of the Palestinian Central Council to 
provide cover for their decision to retreat.  Today, after the signing of the Modified Wye Accords, the 
subject of the proclamation of a state has been made contingent upon agreement with Israel, at the same 
time that the new Wye Accord says not a word about halting Jewish settlement in the occupied territories.  
On the contrary, Israel is to destroy 75 houses in the Gaza sector and build more settlements to impose 
political and geographical “facts” on the ground.

Undoubtedly the policy of continuous and on-going yielding and concessions will lead to nothing but the 
destruction of the national cause and the dissipation of the rights of the Palestinian people.  This reality 
demands that the Palestinian people gather their strength to put an end to the policy of surrender and 

Editorial from "al-Hadaf" magazine, No. 1297, 12 September 1999.  
Also published in the Beirut daily newspaper “as-Safir”, Monday, 20 September 1999.  Abu Nasr, translator.