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Israel-Palestinian Peace Process: Israel’s Proposals for the Self-Governing Authority in the Territories

(January 31, 1982)

In the wake of the visit of Secretary of State Haig, it was decided that Israel would draw up its proposals for the self governing authority in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Region. The proposal dealt with the scope of the authority, the mode of its election and size.

A: In the Camp David Agreement, signed on 17 September 1978 between Egypt and Israel, with the United States signing as a witness, agreement was reached on a plan for the solution of the problem of the Palestinian Arabs, that includes a proposal for full autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The manner of establishing this autonomy, as well as its powers, were to be determined in negotiations between the signatories (Jordan was invited to participate, but did not respond). It was Israel that first raised the idea of autonomy that was later to serve as the basis of the Camp David Agreement. For the first time in the history of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district, they were offered an opportunity of this kind to conduct their own affairs by themselves. Since 1979, talks have been held for the implementation of this agreement. There were intermissions in the negotiations, but talks were resumed intensively in the summer of 1981, leading to a thoroughgoing clarification of the positions of the parties. At these talks, Israel put forward its proposals with regard to the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council), its powers, responsibilities and structure as well as other related issues.

B: The main points of Israel's proposals, as submitted in the course of the negotiations, were as follows:

1. Scope, Jurisdiction and Structure of the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council):

A. The Camp David Accords set forth the establishment of a self-governing authority (Administrative Council) that will comprise one body representing the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District, who will choose this body in free elections, and it will assume those functional powers that will be transferred to it. Thus the Palestinian Arabs will for the first time have an elected and representative body in accordance with their own wishes and free choice, that will be able to carry out the functions assigned to it as an Administrative Council.

B. The members of the Administrative Council will be able, as a group, to discuss all subjects within the council's competence, apportioning among themselves the spheres of responsibility for the various functions. Within the domain of its assigned powers and responsibilities, the Council will be responsible for planning and carrying out its activities.

2. Powers of the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council)

I (a) Under the terms of the Camp David Agreement, the parties have to reach an agreement on the powers and responsibilities of the authority. Israel's detailed proposals include a list of powers that will be given to the authority, and that, by any reasonable and objective criterion, represent a wide and comprehensive range of fields of operation. Without any doubt, the transferring of these powers constitutes the bestowal of full-autonomy - in the full meaning of that term.

(b) The powers to be granted the authority, under these proposals, are in the following domains:

1. Administration of Justice - Supervision of the administrative system of the courts in the areas, dealing with matters connected with the prosecution system and with the registration of companies, partnerships, patents, trademarks, etc.

2. Agriculture - All branches of agriculture and fisheries, nature reserves and parks.

3. Finance - Budget of the Administrative Council and allocations among its various divisions. Taxation.

4. Civil Service - Appointment and working conditions of the Council's employees. (Today the civil service of the inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, within the framework of the Military Government's Civilian Administration, numbers about 12,000 persons).

5. Education and Culture - Operation of the network of schools in the areas, from kindergarten to higher education, supervision of cultural, artistic and sporting activities.

6. Health - Supervision of hospitals and clinics, operation of sanitary and other services related to public health.

7. Housing and Public Works - Construction, housing for the inhabitants and public works projects.

8. Transportation and communications - Maintenance and coordination of transport, road traffic, meteorology, local postal and communication services.

9. Labor and Social Welfare - Welfare, labor and employment services, including the operation of labor exchanges.

10. Municipal Affairs - Matters concerning municipalities and their effective operation.

11. Local Police - Operation of a strong local police force, as provided for in the Camp David Agreement and a maintenance of prisons for criminal offenders sentenced by the courts in the areas.

12. Religious Affairs - Provision and maintenance of religious facilities for all religious communities among the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District.

13. Industry, Commerce and Tourism - Development of industry, commerce, workshops and tourist services.

II. The Council will have full powers in its spheres of competence to determine its budget, to enter into contractual obligations, to sue and be sued, and to engage manpower. It will, moreover, have wide powers to promulgate regulations, as required by a body of this kind. In the nature of things, in view of the free movement that will prevail between Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District and Israel, and for the general welfare of the inhabitants, arrangements will be agreed upon in the negotiations, in a number of domains, for cooperation and coordination with Israel. The Administrative Council will, hence, have full scope to exercise its wide-ranging powers under the terms of the autonomy agreement. These powers embrace all walks of life, and will enable the inhabitants of the areas concerned to enjoy full autonomy.

3. Size: The size of the Administrative Council must reflect its functions and its essential purpose: It is an administrative Council whose representative character finds expression in its establishment through free elections, by the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Clearly the criterion for determining the number of its members must be the functions that the council is empowered to perform. We propose, therefore, that the numbers of members will conform with the functions listed above.

4. Free Elections: Elections to the Administrative Council, under Israel's proposals, will be absolutely free, as stipulated in the Camp David Agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the parties will agree upon the modalities of the elections. As a matter of fact, in past negotiations, a long list of principles and guidelines has already been prepared in this matter. In these free elections, all the rights pertaining to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and secret balloting will be preserved and assured, and all necessary steps will be taken to prevent any interference with the election process. The holding of an absolutely free and unhampered election process will thus be assured in full, under the law, and in keeping with the tradition of free elections practiced in democratic societies. These elections will, in many respects, constitute a new departure in the region around us which in most of its parts is not too close to the ways of democracy, and in which free elections are a rare phenomenon. It is of some interest, therefore, to note that Judea, Samaria and Gaza, under Israel's military government since 1967, have exemplified the practical possibility of totally free elections in these areas. In 1972 and again in 1976, Israel organized free elections in these areas based on the tradition and mode of its own democratic and liberal tradition.

5. Time of Elections and Establishment of the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council). The elections will be held as expeditiously as possible after agreement has been reached on the autonomy. This was set forth in the joint letter of the late President Sadat and of Prime Minister Begin to President Carter, dated 26 March 1979, setting forth the manner in which the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council) is to be established, under the terms of the Camp David Agreement.

6. Within one month following the elections, the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council) is to be established and inaugurated, and at that time, the transitional period of five years will begin - again, in conformity with the Camp David Agreement and the joint letter.

7. Hence, every effort will be made to hold elections without delay, once an agreement is reached, to be followed by the establishment of the Self-Governing Authority (Administrative Council).

8. Following the elections and the establishment of the Self-Government Authority (Administrative Council) the military government and its civilian administration will be withdrawn, a withdrawal of Israeli armed forces will take place, and there will be a redeployment of the remaining Israeli forces into specified security locations, in full conformity with the Camp David Agreement. Israel will present to the other parties in the negotiations the map of the specified security locations of the redeployment. It goes without saying that all this will be done for the purpose of safeguarding the security of Israel as well as of the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and of the Israeli citizens residing in these areas.

9. All of the above indicates Israel's readiness to observe the Camp David Agreement fully and in every detail, in letter and spirit, while safeguarding the interests of all concerned.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs