released April 14, 2004
Prime Minister of Israel
Dear Mr Prime Minister:
Thank you for your letter setting out your disengagement plan.
The United States remains hopeful and determined to find a way forward toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I remain committed to my June 24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security as the key to peace, and to the road map as the route to get there.
We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank.
These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee. We are hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with my vision, will remind all states and parties of their own obligations under the road map.
The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.
First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the road map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan.
Under the road map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.
Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all states, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.
Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state.
It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
I know that, as you state in your letter, you are aware that certain responsibilities face the state of Israel. Among these, your government has stated that the barrier being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.
As you know, the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent, so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance with my vision set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in the road map. The United States will join with others in the international community to foster the development of democratic political institutions and new leadership committed to those institutions, the reconstruction of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous economy, and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.
A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians would be a great boon not only to those peoples but to the peoples of the entire region. Accordingly, the United States believes that all states in the region have special responsibilities: to support the building of the institutions of a Palestinian state; to fight terrorism, and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals and groups engaged in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal relations with the state of Israel. These actions would be true contributions to building peace in the region.
Mr Prime Minister, you have described a bold and historic initiative that can make an important contribution to peace. I commend your efforts and your courageous decision which I support. As a close friend and ally, the United States intends to work closely with you to help make it a success.
George W. Bush
Prime Minister Sharon's letter to President Bush
released April 14, 2004
Dr. Condoleezza Rice
National Security Adviser
The White House
Dear Dr. Rice,
On behalf of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Ariel
Sharon, I wish to reconfirm the following understanding, which had been
reached between us:
1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of
settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to
have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in
Judea & Samaria. An Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador
Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly
define the construction line of each of the settlements.
2.Removal of unauthorized outposts: the Prime Minister and the Minister
of Defense, jointly, will prepare a list of unauthorized outposts with
indicative dates of their removal; the Israeli Defense forces and/or the
Israeli Police will take continuous action to remove those outposts in
the targeted dates. The said list will be presented to Ambassador
Kurtzer within 30 days.
3. Mobility restrictions in Judea & Samaria: the Minister of Defense
will provide Ambassador Kurtzer with a map indicating roadblocks and
other transportational barriers posed across Judea & Samaria. A list of
barriers already removed and a timetable for further removals will be
included in this list. Needless to say, the matter of the existence of
transportational barriers fully depends on the current security
situation and might be changed accordingly.
4.Legal attachments of Palestinian revenues: the matter is pending in
various courts of law in Israel, awaiting judicial decisions. We will
urge the State Attorney?s office to take any possible legal measure to
expedite the rendering of those decisions.
5. The Government of Israel extends to the Government of the United
States the following assurances:
a. The Israeli government remains committed to the two-state solution ?
Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security ? as the
key to peace in the Middle East.
b. The Israeli government remains committed to the Roadmap as the only
route to achieving the two-state solution.
c. The Israeli government believes that its disengagement plan and
related steps on the West Bank concerning settlement growth,
unauthorized outposts, and easing of restrictions on the movement of
Palestinians not engaged in terror are consistent with the Roadmap and,
in many cases, are steps actually called for in certain phases of the
d. The Israeli government believes that further steps by it, even if
consistent with the Roadmap, cannot be taken absent the emergence of a
Palestinian partner committed to peace, democratic reform, and the fight
e. Once such a Palestinian partner emerges, the Israeli government will
perform its obligations, as called for in the Roadmap, as part of the
performance-based plan set out in the Roadmap for reaching a negotiated
final status agreement.
f. The Israeli government remains committed to the negotiation between
the parties of a final status resolution of all outstanding issues.
g. The Government of Israel supports the United States? efforts to
reform the Palestinian security services to meet their roadmap
obligations to fight terror. Israel also supports the American efforts,
working with the international community, to promote the reform process,
build institutions, and improve the economy of the Palestinian Authority
and to enhance the welfare of its people, in the hope that a new
Palestinian leadership will prove able to fulfill its obligations under
the Roadmap. The Israeli Government will take all reasonable actions
requested by these parties to facilitate these efforts.
h. As the Government of Israel has stated, the barrier being erected by
Israel should be a security rather than a political barrier, should be
temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final
status issues including final borders, and its route should take into
account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not
engaged in terrorist activities.
Chief of the
Prime Minister's Bureau