Monitoring the Israeli-Palestinian Security Agreement

Reportage from 27 October 1998

Materials arranged chronologically.

Pincus, Walter. "Tenet Stresses CIA Will Be Intermediary, Not Enforcer." Washington Post, 27 Oct. 1998, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Facing questions about whether the CIA's role in implementing a Middle East peace agreement is taking it into uncharted territory, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet has insisted that the agency will not make policy or carry out arrests, interrogations or arbitrate disputes between Palestinian and Israeli security forces. Instead, the CIA will serve as a go-between for the intelligence agencies of the two sides, channeling information between them and overseeing confidence-building measures."

Posner, Steve. "[Op-Ed:] The Spy At Wye." Washington Post, 27 Oct. 1998, A23. [http://www.washingtonpost.com] Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 2 Nov. 1998, 27.

"When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to cede more territory without a mechanism for ensuring a Palestinian crackdown on terrorists, [CIA Director George J.] Tenet emerged with an offer that his agents would monitor Arafat's security effort.... Netanyahu bristled,... [b]ut Arafat embraced the idea, knowing that for the PLO, the CIA has been a reliable partner....

"[I]n the years when the PLO was still wandering in the political wilderness..., it was the CIA that carried out secret diplomatic negotiations with Arafat and his lieutenants.... [I]n the early 1980s,... Robert Ames, the CIA station chief in Beirut,... was ... participating directly in secret, face-to- face political talks with Arafat."

When Israel invaded Lebanon, Ames "was instrumental in formulating the Reagan Middle East peace plan, which called for 'the peaceful and orderly transfer of authority from Israel to the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza'.... Although the Reagan plan foundered, the United States brokered a deal that enabled the PLO to evacuate Lebanon for safe harbor in Tunis."

Washington Post. "[Editorial:] New Mission for the CIA." 27 Oct. 1998, A22. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

"For the United States, the new element in the Wye accord between Israelis and Palestinians is the role assigned to the CIA. The agency ... is to monitor the security provisions of the Wye agreement.... This mission is a pathbreaker and exposes the United States to a range of contingencies that need to be thought out before the agency plunges in.... The CIA was in a position to render this essential service by virtue of the working liaison that has made it the most useful and trusted arm of American government as far as the Palestinians are concerned."

Tenet, George J. "What 'New' Role for the C.I.A.?" Washington, DC: CIA Public Affairs Staff, 1998. [https://www.cia.gov]

This 28 October 1998 press release includes the notation "Originally published in the New York Times, October 27, 1998."

"For many years the C.I.A. has been working with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to combat terrorists in their midst.

"We have also tried to improve communications between the two sides on security matters as well as to improve the professionalism of security forces on the West Bank and Gaza. Just as important, we have tried to bolster confidence among all responsible parties that appropriate steps are being taken to end violence. There is nothing new in this role for the C.I.A.

"Another part of our mission will be to keep American policy makers informed about how the agreement they brokered is being carried out. Again, there is nothing new in this. The agency has long assisted policy makers in their efforts to make international agreements viable....

"It is also important that Americans understand what is not part of the agency's role. The C.I.A. is not interposing itself between two combatants. We are not placing officers inside the security operations of either side. We will not arrest or interrogate people or assume any other direct role on the ground.

"In sum, the C.I.A. is not making policy, but helping carry it out."

New York Times. "[Editorial:] Spies for Peace." 28 Oct. 1998. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"The C.I.A. has long mixed action and analysis, often with disastrous results. That need not be the case this time, but the Clinton Administration and Congress must be mindful of the agency's history as they review the plans for the Middle East.... Because C.I.A. political and security operations are usually conducted at the request of the White House, the temptation can be great to tailor intelligence assessments to fit policy goals.... President Clinton has made an extraordinary and appropriate commitment of American resources to help bring peace to [the Middle East]. If the C.I.A. is careful about avoiding past mistakes, it can make an important contribution."

Gates, Robert M. "The C.I.A.'s Little-Known Résumé." New York Times, 29 Oct. 1998. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In this Op-Ed piece, the former DCI argues that "[t]he C.I.A. has played a prominent, if discreet, role in international negotiations and in monitoring cease-fires and treaty compliance for decades." Examples mentioned include monitoring troop withdrawals following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, participating in arms control delegations, and Gates' own trip to the Indian subcontinent in May 1990 to avert war between Pakistan and India.

Gates acknowledges that there are organizational and other risks associated with the CIA's very visible involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Nevertheless, "it seems fitting in this new era of openness that the C.I.A.'s longstanding behind-the-scenes role in helping to wage peace should finally become public alongside its long history in waging covert war."

Duffy, Brian, and Bruce B. Auster. "In from the Cold: The CIA's New Role." U.S. News & World Report, 2 Nov. 1998, 39.

Monitoring the agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians "is dicey, but the CIA may be uniquely positioned to pull it off."

Waller, Douglas. "Coming in from the Cold: Under the Wye Agreement, the CIA Embarks on a New -- and Highly Visible -- Mission in the Middle East." Time, 2 Nov. 1998. [http://www.time. com]

Gertz, Bill. "CIA's Mideast Mission 'To Act as Bridge' Between the Two Sides." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, 2-8 Nov. 1998, 16.

"CIA officers will act as intermediaries by sharing Palestinian [security] data with the Israelis, or in some cases providing a general briefing without details."

Seigle, Greg. "CIA Too Involved in Palestinian Peace Accord?" Jane's Defence Weekly, 4 Nov. 1998, 4.

Pincus, Walter, and Barton Gellman. "Tenet Said He Might Quit Over Pollard Release." Washington Post, 11 Nov. 1998, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to sources, "CIA Director George J. Tenet told President Clinton last month that he would find it difficult to remain as director were convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard released as part of a Middle East peace agreement." See also, James Risen and Steve Erlanger, "C.I.A. Chief Vowed to Quit if Clinton Freed Israeli Spy," New York Times, 11 Nov. 1998, A1-A12 (N).

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