The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We enclose herewith the report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee.
We sought and received information and advice from a wide range of individuals, organizations, andgovernments. However, the conclusions and recommendations are ours alone.
We are grateful for the support that you and your administration have provided to the Committee.
Warren B. Rudman
George J Mitchell, Chairman
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The Government of Israel (GOI) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) must act swiftlyand decisively to halt the violence. Their immediate objectives then should beto rebuild confidence and resume negotiations.
During this mission our aim has been to fulfill the mandate agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh.We value the support given our work by the participants at the summit, and wecommend the parties for their cooperation. Our principal recommendation is thatthey recommit themselves to the Sharm el-Sheikh spirit and that they implementthe decisions made there in 1999 and 2000. We believe that the summit participantswill support bold action by the parties to achieve these objectives.
The restoration of trust is essential, and the parties should take affirmativesteps to this end. Given the high level of hostility and mistrust, the timingand sequence of these steps are obviously crucial. This can be decided only bythe parties. We urge them to begin the process of decision immediately.
Accordingly, we recommend that steps be taken to:
END THE VIOLENCE
The GOI and the PA should reaffirm their commitment to existing agreements and undertakings and should immediately implement an unconditional cessation of violence.
The GOI and PA should immediately resume security cooperation.
The PA and GOI should work together to establish a meaningful "cooling off period" and implement additional confidence building measures, some of which were detailed in the October 2000 Sharm el-Sheikh Statement and some of which were offered by the U.S. on January 7, 2001 in Cairo (see Recommendations section for further description).
The PA and GOI should resume their effortsto identify, condemn and discourage incitement in all its forms.
The PA should make clear through concrete action to Palestinians and Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable, and that the PA will make a 100 percent effort to prevent terrorist operations and to punish perpetrators. This effort should include immediate steps to apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating within the PA's jurisdiction.
The GOI should freeze all settlement activity, including the "natural growth" of existing settlements.
The GOI should ensure that the IDF adopt andenforce policies and procedures encouraging non-lethal responses to unarmeddemonstrators, with a view to minimizing casualties and friction between thetwo communities.
The PA should prevent gunmen from using Palestinian populated areas to fire upon Israeli populated areas and IDF positions. This tactic places civilians on both sides at unnecessary risk.
The GOI should lift closures, transfer to the PA all tax revenues owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed in Israel to return to their jobs; and should ensure that security forces and settlers refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as trees and other agricultural property in Palestinian areas. We acknowledge the GOI's position that actions of this nature have been taken for security reasons. Nevertheless, the economic effects will persist for years.
The PA should renew cooperation with Israeli security agencies to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that Palestinian workers employed within Israel are fully vetted and free of connections to organizations and individuals engaged in terrorism.
The PA and GOI should consider a joint undertaking to preserve and protect holy places sacred to the traditions of Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
The GOI and PA should jointly endorse and support the work of Palestinian and Israeli non- governmental organizations involved in cross-community initiatives linking the two peoples
In the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements and understandings of 1999 and 2000, we recommend that the parties meet to reaffirm their commitment to signed agreements and mutual understandings, and take corresponding action. This should be the basis for resuming full and meaningful negotiations.
On October 17, 2000, at the conclusion of the Middle East Peace Summit at Sharmel-Sheikh, Egypt, the President of the United States spoke on behalf of theparticipants (the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, theGovernments of Egypt, Jordan, and the United States, the United Nations, andthe European Union). Among other things, the President stated that:
The United States will develop with theIsraelis and Palestinians, as well as in consultation with the United NationsSecretary General, a committee of fact-finding on the events of the pastseveral weeks and how to prevent their recurrence. The committee's report willbe shared by the U.S. President with the U.N. Secretary General and the partiesprior to publication. A final report shall be submitted under the auspices ofthe U.S. President for publication.1
On November 7, 2000, following consultations with the otherparticipants, the President asked us to serve on what has come to be known asthe Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee. In a letter to us on December 6,2000, the President stated that:
The purpose of the Summit, and of the agreement that ensued, was to end theviolence, to prevent its recurrence, and to find a path back to the peaceprocess. In its actions and mode of operation, therefore, the Committee shouldbe guided by these overriding goals ... The Committee should strive to steerclear of any step that will intensify mutual blame and finger-pointing betweenthe parties. As I noted in my previous letter, "the Committee should notbecome a divisive force or a focal point for blame and recrimination but rathershould serve to forestall violence and confrontation and provide lessons forthe future." This should not be a tribunal whose purpose is to determinethe guilt or innocence of individuals or of the parties; rather, it should be afact-finding committee whose purpose is to determine what happened and how toavoid it recurring in the future.2
After our first meeting, held before we visited the region, we urged an end to allviolence. Our meetings and our observations during our subsequent visits to theregion have intensified our convictions in this regard. Whatever the source,violence will not solve the problems of the region. It will only make themworse. Death and destruction will not bring peace, but will deepen the hatredand harden the resolve on both sides. There is only one way to peace, justice,and security in the Middle East, and that is through negotiation.
Despite their long history and close proximity, some Israelis and Palestinians seem notto fully appreciate each other's problems and concerns. Some Israelis appearnot to comprehend the humiliation and frustration that Palestinians must endureevery day as a result of living with the continuing effects of occupation,sustained by the presence of Israeli military forces and settlements in theirmidst, or the determination of the Palestinians to achieve independence andgenuine self-determination. Some Palestinians appear not to comprehend theextent to which terrorism creates fear among the Israeli people and underminestheir belief in the possibility of co-existence, or the determination of theGOI to do whatever is necessary to protect its people.
Fear, hate, anger, and frustration have risen on both sides. The greatest danger ofall is that the culture of peace, nurtured over the previous decade, is beingshattered. In its place there is a growing sense of futility and despair, and agrowing resort to violence.
Political leaders on both sides must act and speak decisively to reverse these dangeroustrends; they must rekindle the desire and the drive for peace. That will be difficult.But it can be done and it must be done, for the alternative is unacceptable andshould be unthinkable.
Two proud peoples share a land and a destiny. Their competing claims and religiousdifferences have led to a grinding, demoralizing, dehumanizing conflict. Theycan continue in conflict or they can negotiate to find a way to liveside-by-side in peace.
There is a record of achievement. In 1991 the first peace conference with Israelisand Palestinians took place in Madrid to achieve peace based on UN SecurityCouncil Resolutions 242 and 338. In 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) and Israel met in Oslo for the first face-to-face negotiations; they ledto mutual recognition and the Declaration of Principles (signed by the parties inWashington, D.C. on September 13, 1993), which provided a road map to reach thedestination agreed in Madrid. Since then, important steps have been taken inCairo, in Washington, and elsewhere. Last year the parties came very close to apermanent settlement.
So much has been achieved. So much is at risk. If the parties are to succeed incompleting their journey to their common destination, agreed commitments mustbe implemented, international law respected, and human rights protected. Weencourage them to return to negotiations, however difficult. It is the onlypath to peace, justice and security.
It is clear from their statements that the participants in the summit of lastOctober hoped and intended that the outbreak of violence, then less than amonth old, would soon end. The U.S. President's letters to us, asking that wemake recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence of violence, reflect thatintention.
Yet the violence has not ended. It has worsened. Thus the overriding concern of thosein the region with whom we spoke is to end the violence and to return to theprocess of shaping a sustainable peace. That is what we were told, and wereasked to address, by Israelis and Palestinians alike. It was the messageconveyed to us as well by President Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan,and UN Secretary General Annan.
Their concern must be ours. If our report is to have effect, it must deal with thesituation that exists, which is different from that envisaged by the summitparticipants. In this report, we will try to answer the questions assigned tous by the Sharm el-Sheikh summit: What happened? Why did it happen?
In light of the current situation, however, we must elaborate on the third part ofour mandate: How can the recurrence of violence be prevented? The relevance andimpact of our work, in the end, will be measured by the recommendations we makeconcerning the following:
- Ending the Violence.
- Rebuilding Confidence.
- Resuming Negotiations.
We are not a tribunal. We complied with the request that we not determine theguilt or innocence of individuals or of the parties. We did not have the powerto compel the testimony of witnesses or the production of documents. Most ofthe information we received came from the parties and, understandably, itlargely tended to support their arguments.
In this part of our report, we do not attempt to chronicle all of the events fromlate September 2000 onward. Rather, we discuss only those that shed light onthe underlying causes of violence.
In late September 2000, Israeli, Palestinian, and other officials received reportsthat Member of the Knesset (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon was planning avisit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Palestinian and U.S.officials urged then Prime Minister Ehud Barak to prohibit the visit.3 Mr. Barak told us that he believed the visit was intended to be aninternal political act directed against him by a political opponent, and hedeclined to prohibit it.
Mr. Sharon made the visit on September 28 accompanied by over 1,000 Israeli policeofficers. Although Israelis viewed the visit in an internal political context,Palestinians saw it as highly provocative to them. On the following day, in thesame place, a large number of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and a largeIsraeli police contingent confronted each other. According to the U.S.Department of State, "Palestinians held large demonstrations and threwstones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coatedmetal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4persons and injuring about 200."4According to the GOI, 14 Israeli policemen were injured.5
Similar demonstrations took place over the following several days.6Thus began what has become known as the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" (Al-Aqsabeing a mosque at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount).
The GOI asserts that the immediate catalyst for the violence was the breakdown ofthe Camp David negotiations on July 25, 2000 and the "widespread appreciationin the international community of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse."7 In this view, Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at "provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative."8
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denies the allegation that the intifadawas planned. It claims, however, that "Camp David represented nothing lessthan an attempt by Israel to extend the force it exercises on the ground tonegotiations,"9 and that "thefailure of the summit, and the attempts to allocate blame on the Palestinianside only added to the tension on the ground..."10
From the perspective of the PLO, Israel responded to the disturbances with excessiveand illegal use of deadly force against demonstrators; behavior which, in thePLO's view, reflected Israel's contempt for the lives and safety ofPalestinians. For Palestinians, the widely seen images of the killing of12-year-old Muhammad al Durra in Gaza on September 30, shot as he huddledbehind his father, reinforced that perception.
From the perspective of the GOI, the demonstrations were organized and directed bythe Palestinian leadership to create sympathy for their cause around the worldby provoking Israeli security forces to fire upon demonstrators, especiallyyoung people. For Israelis, the lynching of two military reservists, First Sgt.Vadim Novesche and First Cpl. Yosef Avrahami, in Ramallah on October 12,reflected a deep-seated Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jews.
What began as a series of confrontations between Palestinian demonstrators andIsraeli security forces, which resulted in the GOI's initial restrictions onthe movement of people and goods in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (closures),has since evolved into a wider array of violent actions and responses. Therehave been exchanges of fire between built-up areas, sniping incidents andclashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. There have also beenterrorist acts and Israeli reactions thereto (characterized by the GOI ascounter-terrorism), including killings, further destruction of property andeconomic measures. Most recently, there have been mortar attacks on Israelilocations and IDF ground incursions into Palestinian areas.
From the Palestinian perspective, the decision of Israel to characterize the currentcrisis as "an armed conflict short of war"11 is simply a means "to justify itsassassination policy, its collective punishment policy, and its use of lethalforce."12 From the Israeliperspective, "The Palestinian leadership have instigated, orchestrated anddirected the violence. It has used, and continues to use, terror and attritionas strategic tools."13
In their submissions, the parties traded allegations about the motivation anddegree of control exercised by the other. However, we were provided with nopersuasive evidence that the Sharon visit was anything other than an internalpolitical act; neither were we provided with persuasive evidence that the PAplanned the uprising.
Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by thePA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to concludethat there was a deliberate plan by the GOI to respond with lethal force.
However, there is also no evidence on which to conclude that the PA made a consistenteffort to contain the demonstrations and control the violence once it began; orthat the GOI made a consistent effort to use non-lethal means to controldemonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. Amid rising anger, fear, and mistrust,each side assumed the worst about the other and acted accordingly.
The Sharon visit did not cause the "Al-Aqsa Intifada." But it was poorlytimed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed it wasforeseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant werethe events that followed: the decision of the Israeli police on September 29 touse lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators; and the subsequent failure,as noted above, of either party to exercise restraint.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN?
The roots of the current violence extend much deeper than an inconclusive summitconference. Both sides have made clear a profound disillusionment with thebehavior of the other in failing to meet the expectations arising from thepeace process launched in Madrid in 1991 and then in Oslo in 1993. Each sidehas accused the other of violating specific undertakings and undermining thespirit of their commitment to resolving their political differences peacefully.
Divergent Expectations: We are struck by the divergent expectations expressed by theparties relating to the implementation of the Oslo process. Results achievedfrom this process were unthinkable less than 10 years ago. During the latestround of negotiations, the parties were closer to a permanent settlement thanever before.
Nonetheless, Palestinians and Israelis alike told us that the premise on which the Osloprocess is based — that tackling the hard "permanent status" issuesbe deferred to the end of the process — has gradually come under seriouspressure. The step-by-step process agreed to by the parties was based on theassumption that each step in the negotiating process would lead to enhancedtrust and confidence. To achieve this, each party would have to implementagreed upon commitments and abstain from actions that would be seen by theother as attempts to abuse the process in order to predetermine the shape ofthe final outcome. If this requirement is not met, the Oslo road map cannotsuccessfully lead to its agreed destination. Today, each side blames the otherfor having ignored this fundamental aspect, resulting in a crisis inconfidence. This problem became even more pressing with the opening ofpermanent status talks.
The GOI has placed primacy on moving toward a Permanent Status Agreement in anonviolent atmosphere, consistent with commitments contained in the agreementsbetween the parties. "Even if slower than was initially envisaged, therehas, since the start of the peace process in Madrid in 1991, been steadyprogress towards the goal of a Permanent Status Agreement without the resort toviolence on a scale that has characterized recent weeks."14 The "goal" is the Permanent Status Agreement, the terms of which must be negotiated by the parties.
The PLO view is that delays in the process have been the result of an Israeliattempt to prolong and solidify the occupation. Palestinians "believedthat the Oslo process would yield an end to Israeli occupation in fiveyears,"15 the timeframe for thetransitional period specified in the Declaration of Principles. Instead therehave been, in the PLO's view, repeated Israeli delays culminating in the CampDavid summit, where, "Israel proposed to annex about 11.2% of the WestBank (excluding Jerusalem)..." and offered unacceptable proposalsconcerning Jerusalem, security and refugees. "In sum, Israel's proposalsat Camp David provided for Israel's annexation of the best Palestinian lands,the perpetuation of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, a continued Israelimilitary presence on Palestinian territory, Israeli control over Palestiniannatural resources, airspace and borders, and the return of fewer than 1% ofrefugees to their homes."16
Both sides see the lack of full compliance with agreements reached since the openingof the peace process as evidence of a lack of good faith. This conclusion ledto an erosion of trust even before the permanent status negotiations began.
Divergent Perspectives: During the last seven months, these views have hardened intodivergent realities. Each side views the other as having acted in bad faith; ashaving turned the optimism of Oslo into the suffering and grief of victims andtheir loved ones. In their statements and actions, each side demonstrates aperspective that fails to recognize any truth in the perspective of the other.
The Palestinian Perspective: For the Palestinian side, "Madrid" and "Oslo"heralded the prospect of a State, and guaranteed an end to the occupation and aresolution of outstanding matters within an agreed time frame. Palestinians aregenuinely angry at the continued growth of settlements and at their dailyexperiences of humiliation and disruption as a result of Israel's presence inthe Palestinian territories. Palestinians see settlers and settlements in theirmidst not only as violating the spirit of the Oslo process, but also as anapplication of force in the form of Israel's overwhelming military superiority,which sustains and protects the settlements.
The Interim Agreement provides that "the two parties view the West Bank andGaza as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will bepreserved during the interim period." Coupled with this, the InterimAgreement's prohibition on taking steps which may prejudice permanent statusnegotiations denies Israel the right to continue its illegal expansionistsettlement policy. In addition to the Interim Agreement, customaryinternational law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibits Israel (asan occupying power) from establishing settlements in occupied territory pending an end to the conflict.17
The PLO alleges that Israeli political leaders "have made no secret of thefact that the Israeli interpretation of Oslo was designed to segregate thePalestinians in non-contiguous enclaves, surrounded by Israelimilitary-controlled borders, with settlements and settlement roads violatingthe territories' integrity."18According to the PLO, "In the seven years since the [Declaration of Principles],the settler population in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem and the GazaStrip, has doubled to 200,000, and the settler population in East Jerusalem hasrisen to 170,000. Israel has constructed approximately 30 new settlements, andexpanded a number of existing ones to house these new settlers."19
The PLO also claims that the GOI has failed to comply with other commitments suchas the further withdrawal from the West Bank and the release of Palestinianprisoners. In addition, Palestinians expressed frustration with the impasseover refugees and the deteriorating economic circumstances in the West Bank andGaza Strip.
The Israeli Perspective: From the GOI perspective, the expansion of settlement activityand the taking of measures to facilitate the convenience and safety of settlersdo not prejudice the outcome of permanent status negotiations.
Israel understands that the Palestinian side objects to the settlements in the WestBank and the Gaza Strip. Without prejudice to the formal status of thesettlements, Israel accepts that the settlements are an outstanding issue onwhich there will have to be agreement as part of any permanent statusresolution between the sides. This point was acknowledged and agreed upon inthe Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993 as well as in otheragreements between the two sides. There has in fact been a good deal ofdiscussion on the question of settlements between the two sides in the variousnegotiations toward a permanent status agreement.20
Indeed, Israelis point out that at the Camp David summit and during subsequent talksthe GOI offered to make significant concessions with respect to settlements inthe context of an overall agreement.
Security, however, is the key GOI concern. The GOI maintains that the PLO has breachedits solemn commitments by continuing the use of violence in the pursuit ofpolitical objectives. "Israel's principal concern in the peace process hasbeen security. This issue is of overriding importance... [S]ecurity is not something on which Israelwill bargain or compromise. The failure of the Palestinian side to comply withboth the letter and spirit of the security provisions in the various agreementshas long been a source of disturbance in Israel."21
According to the GOI, the Palestinian failure takes several forms: institutionalized anti-Israel, anti-Jewish incitement; the release from detention of terrorists; the failure to controlillegal weapons; and the actual conduct of violent operations, ranging from theinsertion of riflemen into demonstrations to terrorist attacks on Israelicivilians. The GOI maintains that the PLOhas explicitly violated its renunciation of terrorism and other acts ofviolence,22 thereby significantlyeroding trust between the parties. The GOI perceives "a thread, impliedbut nonetheless clear, that runs throughout the Palestinian submissions. It isthat Palestinian violence against Israel and Israelis is somehow explicable,understandable, legitimate."23
END THE VIOLENCE
For Israelis and Palestinians alike the experience of the past several months hasbeen intensely personal. Through relationships of kinship, friendship,religion, community and profession, virtually everyone in both societies has alink to someone who has been killed or seriously injured in the recentviolence. We were touched by their stories. During our last visit to theregion, we met with the families of Palestinian and Israeli victims. Theseindividual accounts of grief were heart-rending and indescribably sad. Israeliand Palestinian families used virtually the same words to describe their grief.
When the widow of a murdered Israeli physician — a man of peace whose practiceincluded the treatment of Arab patients — tells us that it seems thatPalestinians are interested in killing Jews for the sake of killing Jews,Palestinians should take notice. When the parents of a Palestinian child killedwhile in his bed by an errant .50 caliber bullet draw similar conclusions aboutthe respect accorded by Israelis to Palestinian lives, Israelis need to listen.When we see the shattered bodies of children we know it is time for adults tostop the violence.
With widespread violence, both sides have resorted to portrayals of the other inhostile stereotypes. This cycle cannot be easily broken. Without considerabledetermination and readiness to compromise, the rebuilding of trust will beimpossible.
Cessation of Violence: Since 1991, the partieshave consistently committed themselves, in all their agreements, to the path ofnonviolence. They did so most recently in the two Sharm el-Sheikh summits ofSeptember 1999 and October 2000. To stop the violence now, the PA and GOI neednot "reinvent the wheel." Rather, they should take immediate steps toend the violence, reaffirm their mutual commitments, and resume negotiations.
Resumption of Security Cooperation: Palestiniansecurity officials told us that it would take some time — perhaps several weeks- for the PA to reassert full control over armed elements nominally under itscommand and to exert decisive influence over other armed elements operating inPalestinian areas. Israeli security officials have not disputed theseassertions. What is important is that the PA make an all-out effort to enforcea complete cessation of violence and that it be clearly seen by the GOI asdoing so. The GOI must likewise exercise a 100 percent effort to ensure thatpotential friction points, where Palestinians come into contact with armedIsraelis, do not become stages for renewed hostilities.
The collapse of security cooperation in early October reflected the belief by eachparty that the other had committed itself to a violent course of action. If theparties wish to attain the standard of 100 percent effort to prevent violence,the immediate resumption of security cooperation is mandatory.
We acknowledge the reluctance of the PA to be seen as facilitating the work ofIsraeli security services absent an explicit political context (i.e.,meaningful negotiations) and under the threat of Israeli settlement expansion.Indeed, security cooperation cannot be sustained without such negotiations andwith ongoing actions seen as prejudicing the outcome of negotiations. However,violence is much more likely to continue without security cooperation.Moreover, without effective security cooperation, the parties will continue toregard all acts of violence as officially sanctioned.
In order to overcome the current deadlock, the parties should consider how best torevitalize security cooperation. We commend current efforts to that end.Effective cooperation depends on recreating and sustaining an atmosphere ofconfidence and good personal relations. It is for the parties themselves toundertake the main burden of day-to-day cooperation, but they should remainopen to engaging the assistance of others in facilitating that work. Suchoutside assistance should be by mutual consent, should not threaten goodbilateral working arrangements, and should not act as a tribunal or interposebetween the parties. There was good security cooperation until last year thatbenefited from the good offices of the U.S. (acknowledged by both sides asuseful), and was also supported indirectly by security projects and assistancefrom the European Union. The role of outside assistance should be that ofcreating the appropriate framework, sustaining goodwill on both sides, andremoving friction where possible. That framework must be seen to becontributing to the safety and welfare of both communities if there is to beacceptance by those communities of these efforts.
The historic handshake between Chairman Arafat and the late Prime Minister Rabin atthe White House in September 1993 symbolized the expectation of both partiesthat the door to the peaceful resolution of differences had been opened.Despite the current violence and mutual loss of trust, both communities haverepeatedly expressed a desire for peace. Channeling this desire intosubstantive progress has proved difficult. The restoration of trust isessential, and the parties should take affirmative steps to this end. Given thehigh level of hostility and mistrust, the timing and sequence of these stepsare obviously crucial. This can be decided only by the parties. We urge them tobegin the process of decision immediately.
Terrorism: In the September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, the partiespledged to take action against "any threat or act of terrorism, violenceor incitement." Although all three categories of hostilities arereprehensible, it was no accident that "terrorism" was placed at thetop of the list.
Terrorism involves the deliberate killing and injuring of randomly selected noncombatantsfor political ends. It seeks to promote a political outcome by spreading terrorand demoralization throughout a population. It is immoral and ultimatelyself-defeating. We condemn it and we urge that the parties coordinate theirsecurity efforts to eliminate it.
In its official submissions and briefings, the GOI has accused the PA ofsupporting terrorism by releasing incarcerated terrorists, by allowing PAsecurity personnel to abet, and in some cases to conduct terrorist operations,and by terminating security cooperation with the GOI The PA vigorously deniesthe accusations. But Israelis hold the view that the PA's leadership has madeno real effort over the past seven months to prevent anti-Israeli terrorism.The belief is, in and of itself, a major obstacle to the rebuilding ofconfidence.
We believe that the PA has a responsibility to help rebuild confidence by makingclear to both communities that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable, andby taking all measures to prevent terrorist operations and to punishperpetrators. This effort should include immediate steps to apprehend andincarcerate terrorists operating within the PA's jurisdiction.
Settlements: The GOI also has a responsibility to help rebuild confidence. Acessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustainunless the GOI freezes all settlement construction activity. The GOI shouldalso give careful consideration to whether settlements that are focal pointsfor substantial friction are valuable bargaining chips for future negotiationsor provocations likely to preclude the onset of productive talks.
The issue is, of course, controversial. Many Israelis will regard ourrecommendation as a statement of the obvious, and will support it. Many willoppose it. But settlement activities must not be allowed to undermine therestoration of calm and the resumption of negotiations.
During the half-century of its existence, Israel has had the strong support of theUnited States. In international forums, the U.S. has at times cast the onlyvote on Israel's behalf. Yet, even in such a close relationship there are somedifferences. Prominent among those differences is the U.S. Government'slong-standing opposition to the GOI's policies and practices regardingsettlements. As the then-Secretary of State, James A. Baker, III, commented onMay 22, 1991:
Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process, on each of myfour trips, I have been met with the announcement of new settlement activity.This does violate United States policy. It's the first thing that Arabs — ArabGovernments, the first thing that the Palestinians in the territories — whosesituation is really quite desperate — the first thing they raise when we talkto them. I don't think there is any bigger obstacle to peace than thesettlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an enhanced pace.24
The policy described by Secretary Baker, on behalf of the Administration ofPresident George H. W. Bush, has been, in essence, the policy of every Americanadministration over the past quarter century.25
Most other countries, including Turkey, Norway, and those of the European Union,have also been critical of Israeli settlement activity, in accordance withtheir views that such settlements are illegal under international law and notin compliance with previous agreements.
On each of our two visits to the region there were Israeli announcements regardingexpansion of settlements, and it was almost always the first issue raised byPalestinians with whom we met. During our last visit, we observed the impact of6,400 settlers on 140,000 Palestinians in Hebron26and 6,500 settlers on over 1,100,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.27 The GOI describes its policy as prohibiting new settlements butpermitting expansion of exiting settlements to accommodate "naturalgrowth." Palestinians contend that there is no distinction between"new" and "expanded" settlements; and that, except for abrief freeze during the tenure of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, there has been acontinuing, aggressive effort by Israel to increase the number and size of settlements.
The subject has been widely discussed within Israel. The Ha’aretz English LanguageEdition editorial of April 10, 2001 stated:
A government which seeks to argue that its goal is to reach a solution to theconflict with the Palestinians through peaceful means, and is trying at thisstage to bring an end to the violence and terrorism, must announce an end toconstruction in the settlements.28
The circumstances in the region are much changed from those which existed nearly 20years ago. Yet, President Reagan's words remain relevant: "The immediateadoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more than any other action, couldcreate the confidence needed..."
Beyond the obvious confidence-building qualities of a settlement freeze, we note thatmany of the confrontations during this conflict have occurred at points wherePalestinians, settlers, and security forces protecting the settlers, meet.Keeping both the peace and these friction points will be very difficult.
Reducing Tension: We were told by bothPalestinians and Israelis that emotions generated by the many recent deaths andfunerals have fueled additional confrontations, and, in effect, maintained thecycle of violence. We cannot urge one side or the other to refrain fromdemonstrations. But both sides must make clear that violent demonstrations willnot be tolerated. We can and do urge that both sides exhibit a greater respectfor human life when demonstrators confront security personnel. In addition, arenewed effort to stop the violence might feature, for a limited time, a"cooling off" period during which public demonstrations at or nearfriction points will be discouraged in order to break the cycle of violence. Tothe extent that demonstrations continue, we urge that demonstrators andsecurity personnel keep their distance from one another to reduce the potentialfor lethal confrontation.
Actions and Responses: Members of theCommittee staff witnessed an incident involving stone throwing in Ramallah fromthe perspectives, on the ground, of both sides. The people confronting oneanother were mostly young men. The absence of senior leadership on the IDF sidewas striking. Likewise, the absence of responsible security and other officialscounseling restraint on the Palestinian side was obvious.
Concerning such confrontations, the GOI takes the position that "Israel is engaged inan armed conflict short of war. This is not a civilian disturbance or ademonstration or a riot. It is characterized by live-fire attacks on asignificant scale [emphasis added] ... [T]he attacks are carried out by awell-armed and organized militia..."29Yet, the GOI acknowledges that of some 9,000 "attacks" byPalestinians against Israelis, "some 2,700 [about 30 percent] involved theuse of automatic weapons, rifles, hand guns, grenades, [and] explosives ofother kinds."30
Thus, for the first three months of the current uprising, most incidents did notinvolve Palestinian use of firearms and explosives. B’Tselem reported that,"according to IDF figures, 73 percent of the incidents [from September 29to December 2, 2000] did not include Palestinian gunfire. Despite this, it wasin these incidents that most of the Palestinians [were] killed and wounded. . ."31 Altogether, nearly 500 people werekilled and over 10,000 injured over the past seven months; the overwhelmingmajority in both categories were Palestinian. Many of these deaths wereavoidable, as were many Israeli deaths.
Israel's characterization of the conflict, as noted above, is overly broad, for it doesnot adequately describe the variety of incidents reported since late September2000. Moreover, by thus defining the conflict, the IDF has suspended its policyof mandating investigations by the Department of Military Police Investigationswhenever a Palestinian in the territories dies at the hands of an IDF soldierin an incident not involving terrorism. In the words of the GOI, "WhereIsrael considers that there is reason to investigate particular incidents, itdoes so, although, given the circumstances of armed conflict, it does not do soroutinely."32 We believe, however,that by abandoning the blanket "armed conflict short of war"characterization and by re-instituting mandatory military policeinvestigations, the GOI could help mitigate deadly violence and help rebuildmutual confidence. Notwithstanding the danger posed by stone-throwers, aneffort should be made to differentiate between terrorism and protests.
Controversy has arisen between the parties over what Israel calls the "targeting ofindividual enemy combatants."33 The PLOdescribes these actions as "extra-judicial executions,"34 and claims that Israel has engaged in an "assassination policy" that is "in clear violation of Article32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention... ."35The GOI states that, "whatever action Israel has taken has been takenfirmly within the bounds of the relevant and accepted principles relating tothe conduct of hostilities."36
With respect to demonstrations, the GOI has acknowledged "that individualinstances of excessive response may have occurred. To a soldier or a unitcoming under Palestinian attack, the equation is not that of the Israeli armyversus some stone throwing Palestinian protesters. It is a personalequation."37
We understand this concern, particularly since rocks can maim or even kill. It isno easy matter for a few young soldiers, confronted by large numbers of hostiledemonstrators, to make fine legal distinctions on the spot. Still, this"personal equation" must fit within an organizational ethic; in thiscase, The Ethical Code of the Israel Defense Forces, which states, inpart:
The sanctity of human life in the eyes of the IDF servicemen will find expressionin all of their actions, in deliberate and meticulous planning, in safe andintelligent training and in proper execution of their mission. In evaluatingthe risk to self and others, they will use the appropriate standards and willexercise constant care to limit injury to life to the extent required toaccomplish the mission.38
Those required to respect the IDF ethical code are largely draftees, as the IDF is aconscript force. Active duty enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers andjunior officers — the categories most likely to be present at friction points-- are young, often teenagers. Unless more senior career personnel orreservists are stationed at friction points, no IDF personnel present in thesesensitive areas have experience to draw upon from previous violentIsraeli-Palestinian confrontations. We think it is essential, especially in thecontext of restoring confidence by minimizing deadly confrontations, that theIDF deploy more senior, experienced soldiers to these sensitive points.
Therewere incidents where IDF soldiers have used lethal force, including liveammunition and modified metal-cored rubber rounds, against unarmeddemonstrators throwing stones.39 TheIDF should adopt crowd-control tactics that minimize the potential for deathsand casualties, withdrawing metal-cored rubber rounds from general use andusing instead rubber baton rounds without metal cores.
We are deeply concerned about the public safety implications of exchanges of firebetween populated areas, in particular between Israeli settlements andneighboring Palestinian villages. Palestinian gunmen have directed small armsfire at Israeli settlements and at nearby IDF positions from within or adjacentto civilian dwellings in Palestinian areas, thus endangering innocent, Israeliand Palestinian civilians alike. We condemn the positioning of gunmen within ornear civilian dwellings. The IDF often responds to such gunfire with heavycaliber weapons, sometimes resulting in deaths and injuries to innocentPalestinians. An IDF officer told us at the Ministry of Defense on March 23,2001 that, "When shooting comes from a building we respond, and sometimesthere are innocent people in the building." Obviously, innocent people areinjured and killed during exchanges of this nature. We urge that suchprovocations cease and that the IDF exercise maximum restraint in its responsesif they do occur. Inappropriate or excessive uses of force often lead toescalation.
We are aware of IDF sensitivities about these subjects. More than once we wereasked: "What about Palestinian rules of engagement? What about aPalestinian code of ethics for their military personnel?" These are validquestions.
On the Palestinian side there are disturbing ambiguities in the basic areas ofresponsibility and accountability. The lack of control exercised by the PA overits own security personnel and armed elements affiliated with the PA leadershipis very troubling. We urge the PA to take all necessary steps to establish aclear and unchallenged chain of command for armed personnel operating under itsauthority. We recommend that the PA institute and enforce effective standardsof conduct and accountability, both within the uniformed ranks and between thepolice and the civilian political leadership to which it reports.
Incitement: In their submissions and briefings to the Committee, both sidesexpressed concerns about hateful language and images emanating from the other,citing numerous examples of hostile sectarian and ethnic rhetoric in thePalestinian and Israeli media, in school curricula and in statements byreligious leaders, politicians and others.
We call on the parties to renew their formal commitments to foster mutualunderstanding and tolerance and to abstain from incitement and hostilepropaganda. We condemn hate language and incitement in all its forms. Wesuggest that the parties be particularly cautious about using words in a mannerthat suggests collective responsibility.
Economic and Social Impact ofViolence: Further restrictions onthe movement of people and goods have been imposed by Israel on the West Bankand the Gaza Strip. These closures take three forms: those which restrictmovement between the Palestinian areas and Israel; those (including curfews)which restrict movement within the Palestinian areas; and those which restrictmovement from the Palestinian areas to foreign countries. These measures havedisrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians; they haveincreased Palestinian unemployment to an estimated 40 percent, in part bypreventing some 140,000 Palestinians from working in Israel; and have strippedaway about one-third of the Palestinian gross domestic product. Moreover, thetransfer of tax and customs duty revenues owed to the PA by Israel has beensuspended, leading to a serious fiscal crisis in the PA.
Of particular concern to the PA has been the destruction by Israeli securityforces and settlers of tens of thousands of olive and fruit trees and otheragricultural property. The closures have had other adverse effects, such aspreventing civilians from access to urgent medical treatment and preventingstudents from attending school.
The GOI maintains that these measures were taken in order to protect Israelicitizens from terrorism. Palestinians characterize these measures as"collective punishment." The GOI denies the allegation:
Israel has not taken measures that have had an economic impact simply for the sake oftaking such measures or for reasons of harming the Palestinian economy. Themeasures have been taken for reasons of security. Thus, for example, theclosure of the Palestinian territories was taken in order to prevent, or atleast minimize the risks of, terrorist attacks. ... The Palestinian leadershiphas made no attempt to control this activity and bring it to an end.40
Moreover, the GOI points out that violence in the last quarter of 2000 cost the Israelieconomy $1.2 billion (USD), and that the loss continues at a rate ofapproximately $150 million (USD) per month.41
We acknowledge Israel's security concerns. We believe, however, that the GOIshould lift closures, transfer to the PA all revenues owed, and permitPalestinians who have been employed in Israel to return to their jobs. Closurepolicies play into the hands of extremists seeking to expand theirconstituencies and thereby contribute to escalation. The PA should resumecooperation with Israeli security agencies to ensure that Palestinian workersemployed within Israel are fully vetted and free of connections to terroristsand terrorist organizations.
International development assistance has from the start been an integral part of the peaceprocess, with an aim to strengthen the socio-economic foundations for peace.This assistance today is more important than ever. We urge the internationalcommunity to sustain the development agenda of the peace process.
Holy Places: It is particularly regrettable that places such as the TempleMount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, and Rachel's Tombin Bethlehem have been the scenes of violence, death and injury. These areplaces of peace, prayer and reflection which must be accessible to all believers.
Places deemed holy by Muslims, Jews, and Christians merit respect, protection andpreservation. Agreements previously reached by the parties regarding holyplaces must be upheld. The GOI and the PA should create a joint initiative todefuse the sectarian aspect of their political dispute by preserving andprotecting such places. Efforts to develop inter-faith dialogue should beencouraged.
International Force: One of the most controversial subjects raised during our inquirywas the issue of deploying an international force to the Palestinian areas. ThePA is strongly in favor of having such a force to protect Palestinian civiliansand their property from the IDF and from settlers. The GOI is just as adamantlyopposed to an "international protection force," believing that itwould prove unresponsive to Israeli security concerns and interfere withbilateral negotiations to settle the conflict.
We believe that to be effective such a force would need the support of bothparties. We note that international forces deployed in this region have been orare in a position to fulfill their mandates and make a positive contributiononly when they were deployed with the consent of all of the parties involved.
During our visit to Hebron, we were briefed by personnel of the TemporaryInternational Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a presence to which both parties haveagreed. The TIPH is charged with observing an explosive situation and writingreports on their observations. If the parties agree, as a confidence-buildingmeasure, to draw upon TIPH personnel to help them manage other friction points,we hope that TIPH contributors could accommodate such a request.
Cross-Community Initiatives: Many described to us the near absolute loss of trust. It was allthe more inspiring, therefore, to find groups (such as the Parent's Circle andthe Economic Cooperation Foundation) dedicated to cross-community understandingin spite of all that has happened. We commend them and their important work.
Regrettably, most of the work of this nature has stopped during the current conflict. Tohelp rebuild confidence, the GOI and PA should jointly endorse and support thework of Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) alreadyinvolved in confidence-building through initiatives linking both sides. It isimportant that the PA and GOI support cross-community organizations andinitiatives, including the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestinianvillages by Israeli NGOs. Providing travel permits for participants is essential.Cooperation between the humanitarian organizations and the military/securityservices of the parties should be encouraged and institutionalized.
Suchprograms can help build, albeit slowly, constituencies for peace amongPalestinians and Israelis and can provide safety nets during times ofturbulence. Organizations involved in this work are vital for translating goodintentions into positive actions.
Israelileaders do not wish to be perceived as "rewarding violence." Palestinianleaders do not wish to be perceived as "rewarding occupation." Weappreciate the political constraints on leaders of both sides. Nevertheless, ifthe cycle of violence is to be broken and the search for peace resumed, thereneeds to be a new bilateral relationship incorporating both securitycooperation and negotiations.
We cannot prescribe to the parties how best to pursue their political objectives.Yet the construction of a new bilateral relationship solidifying andtranscending an agreed cessation of violence requires intelligent risk-taking.It requires, in the first instance, that each party again be willing to regardthe other as a partner. Partnership, in turn, requires at this juncturesomething more than was agreed in the Declaration of Principles and insubsequent agreements. Instead of declaring the peace process to be"dead," the parties should determine how they will conclude theircommon journey along their agreed "road map," a journey which beganin Madrid and continued — in spite of problems — until very recently.
To define a starting point is for the parties to decide. Both parties have statedthat they remain committed to their mutual agreements and undertakings. It istime to explore further implementation. The parties should declare theirintention to meet on this basis, in order to resume full and meaningfulnegotiations, in the spirit of their undertakings at Sharm el-Sheikh in 1999and 2000.
Neither side will be able to achieve its principal objectives unilaterally or withoutpolitical risk. We know how hard it is for leaders to act — especially if theaction can be characterized by political opponents as a concession — withoutgetting something in return. The PA must — as it has at previous criticaljunctures — take steps to reassure Israel on security matters. The GOI must — as it has in the past — take steps to reassure the PA on political matters.Israelis and Palestinians should avoid, in their own actions and attitudes,giving extremists, common criminals and revenge seekers the final say indefining their joint future. This will not be easy if deadly incidents occur inspite of effective cooperation. Notwithstanding the daunting difficulties, thevery foundation of the trust required to re-establish a functioning partnershipconsists of each side making such strategic reassurances to the other.
The GOI and the PA must act swiftly and decisively to halt the violence. Theirimmediate objectives then should be to rebuild confidence and resume negotiations.What we are asking is not easy. Palestinians and Israelis — not just theirleaders, but two publics at large — have lost confidence in one another. We areasking political leaders to do, for the sake of their people, the politicallydifficult: to lead without knowing how many will follow.
During this mission our aim has been to fulfill the mandate agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh.We value the support given our work by the participants at the summit, and wecommend the parties for their cooperation. Our principal recommendation is thatthey recommit themselves to the Sharm el-Sheikh spirit, and that they implementthe decisions made there in 1999 and 2000. We believe that the summitparticipants will support bold action by the parties to achieve these objectives.
END THE VIOLENCE
The GOI and the PAshould reaffirm their commitment to existing agreements and undertakings andshould immediately implement an unconditional cessation of violence.
Anything less than a complete effort by both parties to end theviolence will render the effort itself ineffective, and will likely beinterpreted by the other side as evidence of hostile intent.
The GOI and PA should immediately resume security cooperation.
Effective bilateral cooperation aimed atpreventing violence will encourage the resumption of negotiations. We areparticularly concerned that, absent effective, transparent securitycooperation, terrorism and other acts of violence will continue and may be seenas officially sanctioned whether they are or not. The parties should considerwidening the scope of security cooperation to reflect the priorities of bothcommunities and to seek acceptance for these efforts from those communities.
We acknowledge the PA's position that security cooperationpresents a political difficulty absent a suitable political context, i.e., therelaxation of stringent Israeli security measures combined with ongoing,fruitful negotiations. We also acknowledge the PA's fear that, with securitycooperation in hand, the GOI may not be disposed to deal forthrightly withPalestinian political concerns. We believe that security cooperation cannotlong be sustained if meaningful negotiations are unreasonably deferred, ifsecurity measures "on the ground" are seen as hostile, or if steps aretaken that are perceived as provocative or as prejudicing the outcome ofnegotiations.
The PA and GOI should work together to establish a meaningful "cooling off period" andimplement additional confidence building measures, some of which were proposedin the October 2000 Sharm el-Sheikh Statement and some of which were offered bythe U.S. on January 7, 2001 in Cairo.
The PA and GOI should resume their efforts to identify, condemn and discourage incitement in all its forms.
The PA should make clear through concrete action to Palestinians and Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable, and that the PA will make a 100 percent effort to prevent terrorist operations and to punish perpetrators. This effort should include immediate steps to apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating within thePA's jurisdiction.
The GOI should freeze all settlement activity, including the "natural growth" of existing settlements.
The kind of security cooperation desired by the GOI cannot for long co-exist withsettlement activity described very recently by the European Union as causing"great concern" and by the U.S. as "provocative."
The GOI should give careful consideration to whether settlements which are focal points for substantial friction are valuable bargaining chips for future negotiations or provocationslikely to preclude the onset of productive talks.
The GOI may wish to make it clear to the PAthat a future peace would pose no threat to the territorial contiguity of aPalestinian State to be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The IDF should consider withdrawing topositions held before September 28, 2000 which will reduce the number offriction points and the potential for violent confrontations.
The GOI should ensure that the IDF adopt andenforce policies and procedures encouraging non-lethal responses to unarmeddemonstrators, with a view to minimizing casualties and friction between thetwo communities. The IDF should:
Re-institute, as a matter of course,military police investigations into Palestinian deaths resulting from IDFactions in the Palestinian territories in incidents not involving terrorism.The IDF should abandon the blanket characterization of the current uprising as "anarmed conflict short of war," which fails to discriminate betweenterrorism and protest.
Adopt tactics of crowd-control thatminimize the potential for deaths and casualties, including the withdrawal ofmetal-cored rubber rounds from general use.
Ensure that experienced, seasoned personnelare present for duty at all times at known friction points.
Ensure that the stated values and standard operating procedures of the IDF effectively instill the duty of caring for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well asIsraelis living there, consistent with The Ethical Code of The IDF.
The GOI should lift closures, transfer tothe PA all tax revenues owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed inIsrael to return to their jobs; and should ensure that security forces andsettlers refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as trees andother agricultural property in Palestinian areas. We acknowledge the GOI'sposition that actions of this nature have been taken for security reasons.Nevertheless, their economic effects will persist for years.
The PA should renew cooperation with Israelisecurity agencies to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that Palestinianworkers employed within Israel are fully vetted and free of connections toorganizations and individuals engaged in terrorism.
The PA should prevent gunmen from usingPalestinian populated areas to fire upon Israeli populated areas and IDFpositions. This tactic places civilians on both sides at unnecessary risk.
The GOI and IDF should adopt and enforcepolicies and procedures designed to ensure that the response to any gunfireemanating from Palestinian populated areas minimizes the danger to the livesand property of Palestinian civilians, bearing in mind that it is probably theobjective of gunmen to elicit an excessive IDF response.
The GOI should take all necessary steps toprevent acts of violence by settlers.
The parties should abide by the provisionsof the Wye River Agreement prohibiting illegal weapons.
The PA should take all necessary steps toestablish a clear and unchallenged chain of command for armed personneloperating under its authority.
The PA should institute and enforceeffective standards of conduct and accountability, both within the uniformedranks and between the police and the civilian political leadership to which itreports.
The PA and GOI should consider a jointundertaking to preserve and protect holy places sacred to the traditions ofMuslims, Jews, and Christians. An initiative of this nature might help toreverse a disturbing trend: the increasing use of religious themes to encourageand justify violence.
The GOI and PA should jointly endorse andsupport the work of Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations(NGOs) involved in cross-community initiatives linking the two peoples. It isimportant that these activities, including the provision of humanitarian aid toPalestinian villages by Israeli NGOs, receive the full backing of both parties.
We reiterate our belief that a 100 percenteffort to stop the violence, an immediate resumption of security cooperationand an exchange of confidence building measures are all important for theresumption of negotiations. Yet none of these steps will long be sustainedabsent a return to serious negotiations.
It is not within our mandate to prescribe the venue, the basis or the agenda ofnegotiations. However, in order to provide an effective political context forpractical cooperation between the parties, negotiations must not beunreasonably deferred and they must, in our view, manifest a spirit ofcompromise, reconciliation and partnership, notwithstanding the events of thepast seven months.
- In the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikhagreements and understandings of 1999 and 2000, we recommend that the partiesmeet to reaffirm their commitment to signed agreements and mutualunderstandings, and take corresponding action. This should be the basis forresuming full and meaningful negotiations.
The parties are at a crossroads. If they do not return to the negotiating table,they face the prospect of fighting it out for years on end, with many of theircitizens leaving for distant shores to live their lives and raise theirchildren. We pray they make the right choice. That means stopping the violencenow. Israelis and Palestinians have to live, work, and prosper together.History and geography have destined them to be neighbors. That cannot bechanged. Only when their actions are guided by this awareness will they be ableto develop the vision and reality of peace and shared prosperity.
9th President of theRepublic of Turkey
Minister of ForeignAffairs of Norway
George J. Mitchell, Chairman
Former Member and MajorityLeader of the United States Senate
Warren B. Rudman
Former Member of theUnited States Senate
High Representative forthe Common Foreign and Security Policy, European Union
1 A copy of the statement is attached.
2 Copies of the President's letters are attached.
3 When informed of the planned visit, Ambassador Dennis Ross (President Clinton's Middle East Envoy) said that he told Israeli Minister of Interior Shlomo Ben-Ami, "I can think of a lot of bad ideas, but I can't think of a worse one." See Jane Perlez,"US Envoy Recalls the Day Pandora's Box Wouldn't Shut," The New York Times, January 29, 2001.
4 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000 (Israel), Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, February 2001, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/nea/794.htm.
5 Government of Israel, First Statement, 28 December 2000 (hereafter "GOI, First Statement"), para 187. B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) reported that 70 police were injured. See Events on the Temple Mount - 29 September 2000: Interim Report, http://www.btselem.org/English/Publications/Full_Text/Temple_Mount_2000/Temple_Mount_2000_eng.asp.
6 Disturbances alsooccurred within Israel's Arab community, resulting in thirteen deaths. Theseevents do not fall within the mandate of this Committee and are the subject ofan official GOI inquiry.
7 GOI, First Statement, para 118.
8 Id., para 110.According to the GOI, the Palestinian Minister of Posts and Telecommunicationsdeclared at a rally in Lebanon in March 2001 that the confrontation with Israelhad been planned following the Camp David Summit. See Government of Israel, Second Statement, 20 March 2001 (hereafter, "GOI, Second Statement"), para 2. The PA provided the Committee atranslation of a letter from the Minister, dated March 12, 2001, in which theMinister denied saying that the intifada was planned, and that his statement inLebanon was misquoted and taken out of context. We were told by an IsraeliDefense Force (IDF) intelligence officer that while the declaration itself wasnot definitive, it represented an "open-source" version of what wasknown to the IDF through "other means"; knowledge and means notshared by the IDF with the Committee.
9 Palestine LiberationOrganization, Preliminary Submission ofthe Palestine Liberation Organization to the International Commission ofInquiry, December 8, 2000, p. 10. Note: submissions to the Committee fromthe Palestinian side were made by the PLO.
10 Palestine LiberationOrganization, A Crisis of Faith: SecondSubmission of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the Sharm El-SheikhFact-Finding Committee, December 30,2000 (hereafter "PLO, Second Submission"), p. 16.
11 See GOI, First Statement, para 286.
12 Palestine LiberationOrganization, Third Submission of ThePalestine Liberation Organization to the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee,April 3, 2001 (hereafter "PLO, Third Submission"), p. 51.
13 GOI, Second Statement, para 4.
14 GOI, First Statement, para 19.
15 PLO, Third Submission, p. 25.
16 Id., pp. 46-50.
17 Id., pp. 27-28.
18 PLO, Second Submission, p. 14.
19 Id., pp. 14-15.
20 GOI, SecondStatement, para 82.
21 GOI, First Statement,para 99.
22 GOI Second Statement,para 19, referring to the Exchange of Notes Between the Prime Minister ofIsrael and the Chairman of the PLO, 9- 10 September 1993.
23 Id., para 21.
24 Testimony before theUnited States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, 102ndCongress, May 22, 1991.
25 On March 21, 1980,Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, speaking on behalf of the CarterAdministration, stated: "U.S. policy toward the establishment of Israelisettlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal and has long been amatter of public record. We consider it to be contrary to international law andan impediment to the successful conclusion of the Middle East peaceprocess."
On September 1, 1982,President Ronald Reagan announced what came to be known as The Reagan Plan forthe Middle East, stating that: "[T]he immediate adoption of a settlementsfreeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidenceneeded for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity isin no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes theconfidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairlynegotiated."
On December 16, 1996, ata press conference, President Bill Clinton stated: "It just stands toreason that anything that preempts the outcome [of the negotiations] ... cannotbe helpful in making peace. I don't think anything should be done that would beseen as preempting the outcome." Asked if he viewed the settlements as anobstacle to peace, President Clinton replied, "Absolutely.Absolutely."
On April 5, 2001, a U.S.State Department spokesman, speaking for the current administration, stated:"Continuing settlement activity does risk inflaming an already volatilesituation in the region"; he described that activity as"provocative."
26 There are 400settlers in the "H2" sector of central Hebron, and 6,000 in the KiryatArba settlement on the eastern edge of the city. See "An Introduction tothe City of Hebron," published by the Temporary International Presence inHebron, http://www.tiph.org/.
27 Central IntelligenceAgency, The World Factbook 2000, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gz.html
28Ha'aretz,English Language Edition, April 10, 2001, p. 5.
29 GOI, First Statement, para 286.
30 Id., para 189.
31 B'Tselem, Illusions ofRestraint: Human Rights Violations During the Events in the OccupiedTerritories, 29 September-2 December 2000, December 2000, p. 4.
32 GOI, First Statement,para 306. "The stated policy of the IDF is that whenever a Palestinian inthe Occupied Territories dies at the hands of a soldier, an investigation is tobe made by the Department of Military Police Investigations (MPI), except incases defined as 'hostile terrorist activity.'" See B'Tselem, Illusions of Restraint, p. 24. See also,Alex Fishman, "The Intifada, the IDF and Investigations," Yediot Aharonot (in English, RichardBell Press, 1996, Ltd.), January 19, 2001.
33 GOI, Second Statement,para 69-80.
34 PLO, Third Submission,p. 69.
35 Id., p. 60.
36 GOI, Second Statement,para 78.
37 GOI, First Statement,para 305.
38 Israel Defense Forces, The Ethical Code of the IsraelDefense Forces, http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/IDF_ethics.html.
39 See, e.g., U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on HumanRights Practices, 2000 (Occupied Territories), http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/nea/794.htm.See also, B'Tselem, Illusions of Restraint, pp. 15-16, reporting on thealleged practice of separating rubber bullets into individual rounds, asopposed to firing them properly in a bound cluster of three. Separationincreases range and lethality.
40 GOI, Second Statement,para 92.
41 Id., para 89.