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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                   November 7, 2000


President Clinton announced today the membership of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee that will examine the current crisis between Israelis and Palestinians. The committee, to which Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat agreed at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, October 16-17, was developed with them as well as in consultation with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The President has asked five outstanding individuals, who represent the best tradition of public service both at home and abroad, to serve on the committee. The Committee, which will be chaired by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, also will include former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman, former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjorn Jagland. The committee, working with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, will provide an independent and objective review of the current crisis with the goal of preventing its recurrence. In order for the committee to carry out its mission, the two sides must be making a serious and good faith effort to implement the commitments they undertook at Sharm el-Sheikh to assure that the violence subsides.

In keeping with the understandings reached at Sharm el-Sheikh, the President also has invited Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak to Washington for separate consultations on November 9 and 12, respectively. The immediate priority must be to implement all of the provisions of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement, particularly those aimed at stopping the violence and the bloodshed. Beyond that, President Clinton will discuss with the two leaders how best to move forward and resume a political dialogue.