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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 26, 1999


The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

As we approach May 4, 1999 -- the date for the end of the five year transitional period and for the conclusion of permanent status negotiations -- the United States is taking several steps to promote the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

First, the United States calls upon both parties to continue to adhere to the terms of reference of the peace process as defined in Madrid and Oslo. The objective of the negotiating process is the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, including land for peace, and all other agreements under the Oslo process.

Second, the United States calls on the parties to continue to carry out all their interim period responsibilities, including full implementation without any further delay of the Interim Agreement and the Wye River Memorandum and continued cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government.

Third, the United States believes that the Oslo process was never intended to be open-ended; accordingly, the United States calls on both parties to engage in accelerated permanent status negotiations and to rededicate themselves to the goal of reaching an agreement within one year. Toward that end, and in an effort to facilitate that process, the United States is ready to help launch those negotiations after the Israeli elections and once an Israeli government has been formed, and to review and monitor their progress. The United States also is prepared, with the consent of the parties, to bring them together within six months to review the status of their efforts and to facilitate reaching an agreement.

Finally, if Israelis and Palestinians are to reach an agreement, it is essential that they do their part to create a serious, fair and credible environment for negotiations. In this regard, it is critical to the interest both sides share in enhancing the security of their people that the Palestinians continue their efforts to fight terror and that Israelis and Palestinians maintain their security cooperation. Furthermore, Palestinians and Israelis must avoid unilateral acts and declarations that prejudge or predetermine issues reserved for permanent status negotiations. Indeed, negotiations and a credible peace process offer the only way to reach an enduring agreement on permanent status issues.

Acting in a spirit of partnership and moving away from a zero-sum mentality, Israelis and Palestinians can work together to achieve a just and lasting peace.