Israel and the Palestinians: Following months of intensive behind-the-scenes contacts in Oslo between negotiators for Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a Declaration of Principles (DOP) was formulated outlining self-government arrangements of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Its signing, on 13 September 1993, was preceded by an exchange of letters between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in which the PLO renounced the use of terrorism, pledged to invalidate those articles in its covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict. In response, Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.
The DOP contained a set of mutually agreed general principles regarding a five-year interim period of Palestinian self-rule and a framework for the various stages of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The arrangements for Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area were implemented in May 1994; transfer of powers and responsibilities in the West Bank in the spheres of education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation, and tourism was implemented three months later. The DOP and other agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians culminated in the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of September 1995.
This agreement included a broadening of Palestinian self-government by the means of an elected self-governing authority, the Palestinian Council (elected in January 1996), and continued redeployment of the IDF in the West Bank. The agreement also set out the mechanism governing Israeli-Palestinian relations that would lead to a Final Status Agreement. Under the Interim Agreement, the West Bank was divided into three types of areas:
Area A - comprising the main cities of the West Bank: full Palestinian Council responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs. (The city of Hebron was subject to special arrangements set out in the Interim Agreement; the protocol concerning the redeployment in Hebron was signed in January 1997.)
Area B - comprising small towns and villages in the West Bank: Palestinian Council responsibility for civil affairs (as in Area A) and maintenance of public order, while Israel retained overriding security responsibility to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.
Area C - comprising all Jewish settlements, areas of strategic importance to Israel, and largely unpopulated areas of the West Bank: full Israeli responsibility for security and public order, as well as civil responsibilities related to territory (planning and zoning, archeology, etc.). The Palestinian Council assumes responsibility with regard to all other civil spheres of the Palestinian population.
The timetable for the implementation of further redeployment phases, as specified in the Interim Agreement, was revised on a number of occasions by the two sides, most notably in the Wye River Memorandum of October 1998. Following these agreed revisions, Israel completed the first and second phases of the Further Redeployment (FRD) process in March 2000. As a result of the redeployments, over 18% of the West Bank was designated Area A and over 21% was designated Area B, with 98% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank under Palestinian authority.
Final Status negotiations between the parties, to determine the nature of the permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian entity, began as scheduled in May 1996. Suicide bomb attacks, perpetrated by Hamas terrorists in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during 1996, darkened Israel's view of the peace process. A hiatus of three years followed and Final Status talks were resumed only after the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum (September 1999). Issues to be dealt with included: refugees, settlements, security matters, borders, Jerusalem, and more.
At the invitation of US President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat attended a summit at Camp David in July 2000 to resume negotiations. The summit ended without an agreement being reached due to PA Chairman Arafat's refusal to accept the generous proposal. However, a trilateral statement was issued, defining the agreed principles to guide further negotiations.
In September 2000, the Palestinians initiated an Intifada, a campaign of indiscriminate terror and violence, causing heavy loss of life and suffering to both sides. Numerous efforts to end the violent confrontation and renew the peace process failed due to the ongoing Palestinian terrorism.
Israel accepted the vision presented in the speech by U.S. President George W. Bush on June 24, 2002 for ending Palestinian terrorism, to be followed by the final settlement of all issues and peace.
On May 25, 2003, Israel accepted the Roadmap, accompanied by comments that Israel considers integral to its implementation and a U.S. commitment to address these comments. However, the Palestinians have yet to live up to their obligations under the first phase of the Roadmap, primarily the unconditional cessation of terrorism and end to incitement. Among the measures taken by Israel against terrorism has been the construction of an anti-terrorist fence.