Israel Government Press Office, Jerusalem, May 6, 1998
Recently, much attention has been focused on the issue of the scope of the Further Redeployments (FRD), the areas from which Israel is to withdraw. Following is a clarification of four common misunderstandings.
1) Myth: The Oslo Accords dictate the scope of each of the FRDs.
Fact: The Oslo 2 Accords make no mention of percentages or the size of territory from which Israel is to withdraw. There is no basis in the accord for the Palestinian claim that Israel must pull back from all or most of Judea and Samaria, nor is there any basis for asserting that each of the FRDs must encompass a certain percentage of territory.
2) Myth: Israel is obligated to negotiate the extent of each withdrawal with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Fact: Nowhere in the Oslo Accords or the Hebron Protocol does it state that the extent of each withdrawal is to be a subject of negotiations between the two sides. Israel has the sole authority to decide the extent of the withdrawals.
A statement issued by the State Department spokesman on January 15, 1997, at the time of the signing of the Hebron Accord, said, "The Note for the Record, prepared by the United States at the request of the parties, makes clear that further redeployment phases are issues for implementation by Israel rather than issues for negotiation with the Palestinians."
At a press conference in London on May 5, 1998, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it is "obviously up to the Israelis to decide what their security requirements are."
3) Myth: Since the PA has fulfilled its obligations under the accords, Israel must now carry out the FRDs.
Fact: Under the January 15, 1997 Hebron accord, both Israel and the PA undertook a series of obligations listed in the accord and in the Note for the Record accompanying it:
Israel has fulfilled all of its obligations:
1) withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of Hebron;
2) delineation of areas to be evacuated in the first FRD;
3) release of Palestinian prisoners;
4) resumption of negotiations on outstanding issues; and
5) agreement on the resumption of permanent status talks.
The PA has not fulfilled any of its obligations:
1) to complete the revision of the PLO covenant which calls for Israel's destruction;
2) to fight terror and prevent violence, including uprooting the infrastructure of terror groups, the confiscation of illegal firearms, the apprehension and punishment of terrorists, the transfer of terror suspects to Israel, the prevention of incitement to violence and the strengthening of security cooperation with Israel;
3) to reduce the size of the Palestinian police to the number permitted by Oslo 2 (the Palestinian police currently consist of at least 40,000 men, or 66% more than the 24,000 allowed); and
4) to refrain from governmental activity in areas not under PA jurisdiction, such as Jerusalem.
Israel has complied with its commitments. The PA has violated all of its obligations.
4) Myth: Israel is responsible for the delay in the implementation of the first FRD.
Fact: Under the Note for the Record accompanying the January 15, 1997 Hebron accord, Israel was obligated to carry out the first phase of the further redeployment in the West Bank during the first week of March 1997.
On March 6, 1997, the Israeli Cabinet voted to approve the first phase of the redeployment, consisting of 9.1% of the territory. This figure included 7% of territory that is currently Area B (Israeli security control, Palestinian civilian control) and 2.1% of Area C (exclusive Israeli control). The redeployment would have tripled the amount of territory under exclusive Palestinian control in the West Bank. The Palestinians rejected the Israeli Cabinet decision, thus delaying the implementation of the first FRD on the ground.