23 October 1998

Israel and the Palestinian Authority sign the Wye River Memorandum.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left), U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Yasser Arafat at the Wye River Memorandum, October 1998

The Wye River Memorandum was an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Authority at a summit in Wye River, Maryland, U.S., held from 15–23 October 1998. The Memorandum aimed to resume the implementation of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II Accord). It was signed in the White House by Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, through negotiations led by U.S. President Bill Clinton, on 23 October 1998.[1] On 17 November 1998 Israel's 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Memorandum by a vote of 75–19. The Memorandum determined that it would enter into force on 2 November 1998, ten days from the date of signature.

On 18 December 1998, the Clinton administration and the EU declared their contentment about the implementation of the first phase of the Memorandum by both sides.[2] Israel, however, had only implemented stage 1 of the further redeployment (F.R.D.), meaning that it had withdrawn from 2% of Area C instead of the required 13%.[3][4] Both parties accused each other of not fulfilling its share of responsibilities under the Wye River Memorandum, and the further implementation of the agreement remained unfinished.

The summit

The summit was brokered by the United States at the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Centers near Wye Mills, Maryland,[5] U.S. President Bill Clinton opened the summit at the secluded Wye River Conference Center on 15 October, and returned at least six times to the site to press Netanyahu and Arafat to finalize the deal. In the final push to get Netanyahu and Arafat to overcome remaining obstacles, Clinton invited King Hussein who had played a past role in easing tensions between the two men, to join the talks.

On the final day of the negotiations, the agreement almost fell through. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked President Bill Clinton to release Jonathan Pollard, an American naval intelligence officer who has been serving a life sentence since 1985 for giving classified information to Israel. A bitter disagreement arose, with Netanyahu claiming that Clinton had promised to release Pollard, and Clinton saying he had only promised to "review" the case. It was reported that then-Director of the CIA George Tenet had threatened to resign should Pollard be released.

The agreement was finally signed by Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House, with President Clinton playing a key role as the official witness.


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos in 1997.

For the implementation of the Oslo II Accord and to facilitate the Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, Israel and the Palestinian Authorities signed a number of agreements and protocols. The documents contained the reciprocal responsibilities, including those relating to further redeployments and security.

In 1994, the "Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities Between Israel and the PLO" was signed. In 1995, the "Protocol on Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities" followed. The 1997 Hebron Protocol settled the withdrawal from 80% of Hebron and its division into two Areas.


The Further Redeployments (F.R.D.) in the Wye River Memorandum refer to the three phases in Appendix 1 of Annex I of the Oslo II Accord, which would follow the previous redeployment from populated areas in the West Bank. Only the phases 1 and 2 are specified. Phase 3 was delegated to a "Third further redeployment committee" which was to be started.

Phase one and two of the further redeployments

The Phases one and two, not specified in the Oslo II Accord, comprised the transfer to the Palestinians of 13% from Area C and shifts of parts of Area B to Area A.[6] The redeployment was divided into three stages, specified in the "Time line".[6]

  • Stage 1 (November 1998): 2% from Area C to B; 7.1% from B to A
  • Stage 2 (December 1998): 5% from Area C to B
  • Stage 3 (January 1999): 5% from Area C to B; 1% from C to A; 7.1% from B to A

In total, 13% would thus be transferred from Area C. Area B would increase with 13% and Area A with 14%.

If the Memorandum had been implemented, Area C would theoretically have been reduced from circa 74% to 61%. Article I, however, determined that 3% of Area B would be designated as Nature Reserves with full Israeli control, meaning that the Palestinians would neither have free access to it, nor could build new constructions.[6] This specification was a result of a misunderstanding regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu's "bottom line" for Israeli territorial withdrawal. He told American negotiator Dennis Ross he could go as high as the "lowest teen" in percentage of territory, and Ross persuaded Chairman Arafat to accept the 13% figure. Later, Netanyahu insisted he had meant 11% withdrawal, so Ross surfaced the idea of using the nature reserves to bridge the 11% and 13% figures.[7]


In the provisions on security arrangements of the Interim Agreement, the Palestinian side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Israeli side, against individuals falling under the Israeli side's authority and against their property, just as the Israeli side agreed to take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against the Palestinian side, against individuals falling under the Palestinian side's authority and against their property. The two sides also agreed to take legal measures against offenders within their jurisdiction and to prevent incitement against each other by any organizations, groups or individuals within their jurisdiction.

A: Security actions

1: Outlawing and combating terrorist organizations

(a) The Palestinian side was to make known its policy of zero tolerance for terror and violence against both sides. (b) A work plan developed by the Palestinian side would be shared with the U.S. and thereafter implementation would begin immediately to ensure the systematic and effective combat of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure. (c) In addition to the bilateral Israeli–Palestinian security cooperation, a U.S.–Palestinian committee would meet biweekly to review the steps being taken to eliminate terrorists cells and the support structure that plans, finances, supplies and abets terror. (d) The Palestinian side would apprehend the specific individuals suspected of perpetrating acts of violence and terror for the purpose of further investigation, and prosecution and punishment of all persons involved in acts of violence and terror. (e) A U.S.–Palestinian committee would meet to review and evaluate information pertinent to the decisions on prosecution, punishment or other legal measures which affect the status of individuals suspected of abetting or perpetrating acts of violence and terror.

2: Prohibiting illegal weapons

(a) The Palestinian side would ensure an effective legal framework is in place to criminalize, in conformity with the prior agreements, any importation, manufacturing or unlicensed sale, acquisition or possession of firearms, ammunition or weapons in areas under Palestinian jurisdiction. (b) In addition, the Palestinian side would establish and vigorously and continuously implement a systematic program for the collection and appropriate handling of all such illegal items it accordance with the prior agreements. The U.S. agreed to assist in carrying out the program. (c) A U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would be established to assist and enhance cooperation in preventing the smuggling or other unauthorized introduction of weapons or explosive materials into areas under Palestinian jurisdiction.

3: Prevention of incitement

(a) The Palestinian side would issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror, and establishing mechanisms for acting systematically against all expressions or threats of violence or terror. This decree would be comparable to the existing Israeli legislation which deals with the same subject. (b) A U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would meet on a regular basis to monitor cases of possible incitement to violence or terror and to make recommendations and reports on how to prevent such incitement. The Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. sides would each appoint a media specialist, a law enforcement representative, an educational specialist and a current or former elected official to the committee.

B: Security cooperation

The two sides agreed that their security cooperation would be based on a spirit of partnership and would include, among other things, the following steps:

1: Bilateral cooperation

There would be full bilateral security cooperation between the two sides which would be continuous, intensive and comprehensive.

2: Forensic cooperation

There would be an exchange of forensic expertise, training, and other assistance.

3: Trilateral committee

In addition to the bilateral Israeli–Palestinian security cooperation, a high-ranking U.S.–Palestinian–Israeli committee would meet as required and not less than biweekly to assess current threats to deal with any impediments to effective security cooperation and coordination and address the steps being taken to combat terror and terrorist organizations.

C: Other security issues

1: Palestinian police force

(a) The Palestinian side would provide a list of its policemen to the Israeli side in conformity with the prior agreements. (b) Should the Palestinian side request technical assistance, the U.S. indicated its willingness to help meet those needs in cooperation with other donors. (c) The Monitoring and Steering Committee would, as part of its functions, monitor the implementation of this provision and brief the U.S.

2: PLO charter

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Central Council should reaffirm the letter of 22 January 1998 from PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions that were inconsistent with the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel on 9–10 September 1993.

3: Legal assistance in criminal matters

Among other forms of legal assistance in criminal matters, there were requests for the arrest and transfer of suspects and defendants. The United States had been requested by the sides to report on a regular basis on the steps being taken to respond to the above requests.

4: Human rights and the rule of law

Accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and would be guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity, and avoid harassment.

Economic issues

  1. The Israeli and Palestinian sides reaffirmed their commitment to improve their relationship and agreed on the need to actively promote economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  2. The Israeli and Palestinian sides agreed on arrangements which would permit the timely opening of the Gaza Industrial Estate.
  3. Both sides should have renewed negotiations on Safe Passage immediately. Negotiations on the northern route would continue with the goal of reaching agreement as soon as possible.
  4. The Israeli and Palestinian sides acknowledged the great importance of the Port of Gaza for the development of the Palestinian economy, and the expansion of Palestinian trade.
  5. The two sides recognized that unresolved legal issues hurt the relationship between the two peoples.
  6. The Israeli and Palestinian sides also should launch a strategic economic dialogue to enhance their economic relationship.
  7. The two sides agreed on the importance of continued international donor assistance in helping both sides to implement agreements.

Permanent status negotiations

The two sides would immediately resume permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis and will make a determined effort to achieve the mutual goal of reaching an agreement by 4 May 1999.

Unilateral actions

Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side should initiate or take any step that would change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.

Political impact in Israel

The Wye agreement was broadly popular in Israel, with 74% of Israelis supporting the agreement according to early-November polling.[8] However, Prime Minister Netanyahu sensed opposition within his Likud party and delayed a vote of cabinet approval while he sought public assurances from the Clinton administration about the implementation of Wye. Rather than join a national unity government with opposition leader Ehud Barak, Netanyahu tried to assuage Likud hardliners by stopping implementation of Wye in early December over confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers.[9] Disapproval of Netanyahu's policies from Barak's Labor Party and the Likud right resulted in a vote of no confidence against his government that prompted general elections in May 1999; Barak was victorious and pledged to continue the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.


  1. ^ Gellman, Barton (24 October 1998). "Netanyahu, Arafat Sign Accord; Talks Nearly Founder After Israel Demands Convicted Spy's Release". The Washington Post. p. A1.
  2. ^ US-EU Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process. US State Department, 18 December 1998
    • We welcome implementation of the first phase of the Memorandum by both sides. We call on the parties to implement fully the remaining obligations ...
  3. ^ What Was the 1999 Sharm al-Sheikh Memorandum?. ProCon, 19 May 2008
  4. ^ "The demise of the Oslo process". Archived from the original on 16 August 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2000. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)CS1 maint: unfit URL (link). Joel Beinin, MERIP, 26 March 1999.
  5. ^ Ross, Dennis (2004). The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 237. ISBN 0-374-19973-6.
  6. ^ a b c The Wye River Memorandum Archived 15 July 2001 at the Wayback Machine. Knesset website, 23 October 1998
  7. ^ Dennis Ross (2015). Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.–Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. New York: Macmillan. p. 284. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  8. ^ Matthew Levitt (4 November 1998). "Human Rights in the Wye River Memorandum". Policywatch. Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  9. ^ Ross, The Missing Peace, pp. 461–479.

External links

11 May 1998

India conducts three underground atomic tests in Pokhran.

At 6pm on May 11, 1998 the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced the successful completion of India’s first nuclear tests since the ‘peaceful nuclear test’ of 1974. He read the following statement.

“Today at 1545 hrs, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. The tests were conducted with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in may 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests.”
The photograph is Mr Vajpayee announcing the tests.

According to the Times of India earlier in the day the 500 residents of Pokhran, 35km from the 1974 blast were evacuated. The tests were conducted within hours about 3km north of Khetolai, the people of Pokhran felt the earth shake 3 times within 5 seconds. The residents who also observed the 1974 test immediately knew a nuclear test had just been completed. This also came as no surprise as the increase in military activity at the site had significantly increased over the last year.

When the official announcement came that India has successfully undertaken the nuclear tests, the people of Pokhran started dancing with joy in the main bazaar. Celebrations erupted throughout India, evidence of broad popularity of the tests. All political parties announced their support for the tests.

The tests resulted in immediate condemnation from around the world. The U.S., Japan and Canada imposed sanctions, other countries withdrew ambassadors and made strong complaints.

22 April 1998

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opened its doors on Earth Day April 22, 1998, giving families a whole new way to appreciate, enjoy and interact with animals.

This park was the fourth to be built at the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s also the largest, spreading out over 500 acres, which gives the theme park’s 1,000 residents plenty of room to roam, run, crawl, slither and swim.

In 1998, an elaborate grand-opening ceremony was attended by a crowd of 2,000, with primatologist Jane Goodall, Ph.D., playing a special role in the festivities. Then-CEO Michael Eisner introduced the theme park to the world, calling it “a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama and learn.”

Although the park opened in 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park actually has a lot of ties to Walt Disney, and the passion and respect he displayed for animals and nature throughout his life. Growing up on a farm in Marceline, Mo., the subject of some of Walt’s earliest sketches were local animals. Later on in his career, Walt cast many animals in important roles in his animated films, and took a more serious look at life in the animal kingdom in his “True-Life Adventure Series” documentaries, which were considered to be groundbreaking at the time of their release.

Today, Walt’s legacy continues at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in the form of attractions that take guests up close with some of the most beautiful and interesting animals from around the world, such as Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the newly launched behind-the-scenes Wild Africa Trek tour.

1 March 1998

The film, Titanic became the first to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

Throughout the years, the public opinion of James Cameron’s ‘Titanic‘ wavered. Some roll their eyes at the “pointless” love story and some find it to be the best movie ever. But this film without any doubt found a place in the history books.

On March 1st in 1998, the epic romantic drama became the first film to gross over $1 Billion worldwide. This was an outstanding feat at the time!

BoxOfficeMojo.com estimates that 128 million tickets were sold in the first run. Crazy to think some critics felt this was going to be a box-office bomb! Even critics who expected good things never saw what a behemoth ‘Titanic‘ would become. By the time it left theaters in October 1998, the film had a worldwide total of $1,843,201,268.

For 12 years, it was the highest grossing movie ever. The reign seemed unbeatable but James Cameron found a way to overcome his own monster. ‘Avatar‘, another Cameron film, knocked it off the top spot with an meteoric rise to over $2 Billion.

In April of 2012, ‘Titanic‘ was re-released in 3D. This made the film only the second to pass the $2 Billion worldwide mark so the history making didn’t stop in 1998.

What do you think of historic legacy James Cameron’s ‘Titanic‘ created?

Do you know a film fact that happened on March 1st? Let me know in the comments!

Fun March 1st facts are the births of famous directors Ron Howard in 1954 and Zack Snyder in 1966. Films ‘Tank Girl‘ and ‘The Jazz Singer‘ were released on March 1st.

26 November 1998

The Khanna rail disaster takes 212 lives in Khanna, Ludhiana, India.


At least 150 people were feared killed and 250 injured in a train accident between Kaudi and Daudpur villages near Khanna railway station on the Khanna-Ludhiana section of the Northern Railway in Punjab, a couple of hours before dawn today.

The accident occurred at about 0315 hours IST when the Calcutta-bound 3152-down Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express rammed into 10 derailed coaches of the Amritsar-bound 2903-up Frontier Mail (recently renamed the Golden Temple Express).

Ten coaches of the Frontier Mail got decoupled from the train and derailed, six of them falling onto a parallel track where they were hit by the oncoming Sealdah Express even as passengers were alighting from the other four coaches.

Northern Railway General Manager V K Mehta said there was “a gap of just one minute” between the Frontier Mail coaches getting derailed and the Sealdah Express ramming into them.
Driver Subhash Chander and co-driver Sewa Ram Murti of the Sealdah Express were among those killed.

Railway and police officers said 101 bodies had been extricated, but feared that at least 50 more could be trapped in the wreckage.The extricated bodies were removed to A S College at Khanna. The deputy commissioner of Ludhiana district has permitted relatives of the victims to take the bodies away for last rites without post-mortems.

The injured have been admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute in Chandigarh, Rajendra Medical College Hospital in Patiala, Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College hospitals in Ludhiana, and the civil hospitals in Ludhiana, Samarala, Khanna, Doraha, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Sirhind.

Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, who visited the site, said it was yet to be ascertained if decoupling had led to derailment or vice-versa.He said the toll could go up as some of the injured passengers are in a critical condition, with multiple head and chest injuries.The commissioner of railway safety has been asked to ascertain the cause of the accident.

Kumar declined to speculate on the possibility of sabotage, saying this would be known only after the inquiry. But Punjab Director General of Police P C Dogra ruled out sabotage. He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the accident was caused by a mechanical failure.

The accident occurred on the electrified track in Ambala division, but both trains were being hauled by diesel engines.

2 September 1998

All 229 people on board are killed when Swissair Flight 111 crashes in Nova Scotia.


Scores of bodies and bits of debris were recovered from choppy seas off Nova Scotia as officials sought to determine why a Swissair jetliner bound from New York to Geneva fell into the Atlantic minutes short of an emergency landing in Halifax, apparently killing all 229 people on board.

As Canadian naval vessels and a flotilla of fishermen searched the crash site five miles off a picturesque village called Peggy’s Cove on Nova Scotia’s southeastern shore, it seemed unlikely that any survivors would be found, though all hope was not abandoned. Many of the victims’ grieving families gathered in New York and Geneva, and some were flown to Nova Scotia.

Investigators said that, although the cause of the crash was still a mystery and might not be learned for weeks or months, there were no indications that the wide-bodied jet, a McDonnell-Douglas MD-11, had been brought down by an act of criminality or terrorism.

Searchers, who retrieved about 60 bodies, as well as body parts and debris that included clothing, baggage and seat cushions, said that searchers in the afternoon had spotted what seemed to be a large piece of the aircraft intact perhaps the fuselage, containing many of the victims and the flight data recorders in about 120 feet of water.

Thus, unlike Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which blew up without warning in the sky off the South Shore of Long Island two years ago, with a loss of 230 lives, Swissair Flight 111 apparently did not explode, investigators said, but ran into trouble about 15 minutes before it crashed and did not break up until it hit the water.

The pilot, identified by Swissair officials as Urs Zimmermann, 50, aided by the co-pilot, Stefan Low, 36, turned again toward Halifax and flew on for 11 minutes, gradually descending to 9,600 feet, according to radar tracking data. During that time, the passengers and crew were told of the emergency and put on life jackets, which rescuers said they later found on some bodies.