An 'Agreement of Principles' has recently been suggested as a possible aim for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In this document, the Reut Institute defines the term, and relates to it in the context of the resumption of the political process.
The concept "Agreement of Principles"1 describes a general non-detailed agreement between two or more parties that delineates a broad-spectrum for the resolution of existing unsettled issues without guaranteeing their finalization.
An "Agreement of Principles" is a type of "Letter of Agreement" between two or more parties, which effectively creates a commitment to resolve unsettled issues through another, more detailed agreement or series of agreements. An "Agreement of Principles" can refer to the content of unsettled issues or simply to the mechanism for their resolution. Such an agreement may, but does not necessarily, include an implementation mechanism based on a set timetable or sequence (or both).
"Agreement of Principles" in the Political Process
The State of Israel has signed several political-diplomatic "Agreements of Principles" in the past.
Camp David Accords (9/78) - During the peace process with Egypt, Israel signed two framework peace agreements with Egypt and the US (without Palestinian participation):
- An agreement on the framework for an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty outlining the principles of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt (3/79).
- An agreement on the framework for negotiations with the Palestinians intending to serve as a basis for future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements. Fifteen years later, this agreement outlined the Sequence of the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process in the framework of the Oslo Process.
The Oslo Process
- Declaration of Principles (9/93) - An agreement signed by Israel and the PLO regarding principles of the Sequence of the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process and those for reaching Permanent Status Agreement (hereinafter PSA).
- Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum (9/99) - This agreement updated the Sequence of the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process. Accordingly, Israel and the Palestinians were required to first reach a conclusion on a "Framework Agreement on Permanent Status (FAPS)" (by 2/00) prior to achieving a "Comprehensive Agreement on Permanent Status (CAPS)" (by 9/00).2
The Roadmap (4/03) - Adopted by both Israel and the Palestinians, the Roadmap reversed the Sequence of the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process provided by the Oslo accords, which was based on establishing a Palestinian State after a PSA. Thus, the Roadmap called for a set of confidence-building measures (stage I), to be followed by the establishment of a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (stage II) and the conclusion of a PSA (stage III). The plan included a detailed timetable for implementation.
Recent reports suggest3 that Israel and the Palestinians are considering the option of negotiating an "Agreement of Principles on Permanent Status," in other words, a framework agreement providing the contours of a Palestinian State and a principal outline of the solution to outstanding issues.
1 The Reut Institute thanks Adv. Moty Cristal, for his contribution to this document. However, the Reut Institute bears sole responsibility for its content.
2 For more details see Sher Gilead, Within Reach, Routledge, 2006, pp.32.
3 See Aluf Benn, Haaretz, 07/25/07; Ben Caspit, Maariv (in Hebrew), 07/26/07.