What Version of the Road Map?There has been, for some time, more than ample reason to question the judgment of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with regard to her attempts to foster a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.1 She is an informed person, receiving intelligence updates every day. She possesses the same information we have and then some. Her policy decisions are based upon data and these in turn are evaluated and judged with the USA's best interest in mind, as Ms. Rice sees it. This process requires clear analytical thinking void of personal opinions or beliefs.
Of course this is the process as it could be in a perfect world; we know that politics, more often than not, dictate policy development sometimes even if the data is contrary. We also understand that we are human and our own beliefs tend to influence how to perceive events, people, circumstances and situations. It does appear that Ms. Rice has fallen prey to her personal opinions serving as a filter for real-time events over here in the Middle East. Reports have surfaced recently describing her comparison, in private conversation, between the plight of the Palestinians and the fight for equality of African Americans in the US; she is said to have compared Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King Jr.1
How she chooses to interpret behavior seems in part to be the function of her own belief structure. It is reasonable to ask then how she believes that Abbas is still a peace partner. Today, Abbas' own Fatah military wing threatened to fire hundreds of rockets at Israel.2 His own PA directed television station continues to run anti-Israel programming-we have access to the shows on a regular basis. He cannot administer his current internal infrastructure nor has he even developed a plan for resolving the most mundane and critical social structures addressing waste management, water availability, roads as well as develop a business plan for the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.
Most troubling is that Ms. Rice nor apparently the Bush Administration or the US Congress have asked him to do so - the USA, along with many others, pours hundreds of millions of dollars his way. As we all know, this is no way to invest resources especially dollars. May I assume that our leaders do not use this strategy as they create their portfolios? They all need to answer - why then do you allow this to happen with monies you give Mr. Abbas?
It is this kind of judgment that calls into question current decisions that may have a dramatic impact upon Israel.
First, the USA decided we needed a peace conference; the USA government has imposed it upon us.
Second, it was decided an entire cast of players had to participate-the message was without the Arab countries supporting the conference it would be another failed attempt to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians. No one seems to find this odd! Peace between two entities requires input from supposedly non-participating other countries. Does this action finally acknowledge that Arab countries have been actively engaged in aiding and abetting the Palestinians' terrorist wars against Israel?
Third, it has been settled, the Road Map (RM) will serve as the tool for negotiation at the Annapolis Conference.
Allow me to suggest that a great deal of rancor has been shared regarding which peace model should serve as the basis for the conference. Given the plethora of such models over the years, the Saudi Plan emerged as the favorite suggestion from the Arab countries. However, today, it was announced here in Israel that absolutely it is the Road Map that will guide the way. Well, exactly which version of the Road Map are we talking about-has everyone forgotten the turmoil and the small firestorms that resulted from the first writing of this so-called map?
Just a reminder, the Road Map was described as follows: A Performance Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The RM states it is a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet. The RM indicated that this would be process-oriented and rolled-out across three phases. Each Phase had a title with intentions; allow me to share them again:
- Phase One- Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions
- Phase Two-Transition
- Phase Three- Permanent Status Agreement and End of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Yes, it is correct to say that the Israeli PM did on May 23, 2003: Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel's comments to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the Roadmap.
It is critical to remember the follow up statement in this same document:
The Government also resolved, concerning the issue of the refugees, as follows: The Government of Israel expresses its hope that the political process that will commence, in accordance with the 24 June 2002 speech of President Bush, will bring security, peace and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. The Government of Israel further clarifies that, both during and subsequent to the political process, the resolution of the issue of the refugees will not include their entry into or settlement within the State of Israel.
Note also that the Israeli Cabinet voted 12-7 with 4 abstentions (No votes in Roberts Rules of Order) to accept the Road Map WITH reservations-there are 14 reservations to this day. Israel's 14 reservations were presented to the United States prior to Israel's consideration of the Road Map. The U.S. Administration promised to "fully and seriously address" the issues that Israel raised. To my knowledge they have not been resolved, thus I ask which version of the Road Map will be used? Without presenting the entirety of the 14 reservations document, the following identifies the essence of the 14 points of reservation 4,5:
- Both at the commencement of and during the process, and as a condition to its continuance. calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat terror.... In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas. Islamic Jihad. the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aqsa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure, collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed, cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority, activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement. There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror..
- Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement...
- The emergence of a new and different leadership in the Palestinian Authority within the framework of governmental reform...
- The monitoring mechanism will be under American management. The chief verification activity will concentrate upon the creation of another Palestinian entity and progress in the civil reform process within the Palestinian Authority...
- The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces...
- In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement, declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.
- End of the process will lead to the end of all claims and not only the end of the conflict.
- The future settlement will be reached through agreement and direct negotiations between the two parties, in accordance with the vision outlined by President Bush in his 24 June address.
- There will be no involvement with issues pertaining to the final settlement. Among issues not to be discussed: settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (excluding a settlement freeze and illegal outposts), the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem, and all other matters whose substance relates to the final settlement.
- The removal of references other than 242 and 338 (1397, the Saudi Initiative and the Arab Initiative adopted in Beirut). A settlement based upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity there from. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement.
- Promotion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority: a transitional Palestinian constitution will be composed, a Palestinian legal infrastructure will be constructed and cooperation with Israel in this field will be renewed...
- The deployment of IDF forces along the September 2000 lines will be subject to the stipulation of Article 4 (absolute quiet) and will be carried out in keeping with changes to be required by the nature of the new circumstances and needs created thereby...
- Subject to security conditions, Israel will work to restore Palestinian life to normal: promote the economic situation, cultivation of commercial connections, encouragement and assistance for the activities of recognized humanitarian agencies...
- Arab states will assist the process through the condemnation of terrorist activity. No link will be established between the Palestinian track and other tracks (Syrian-Lebanese).
It is imperative for thoughtful, reflective and wise individuals who want to truly move toward peace review both the Road Map and Israel's reservations before offering any more commentary about the upcoming Annapolis Conference. The decisions that may or may not be made must be based upon a plan that is mutually agreed upon for the final peace process to have any chance for success.
Given Ms. Rice's recent behavior and personal decision making strategies, I question her judgment and wonder if she has also assisted in resolving the 14 points of reservation we had just a few short years ago. For those of us who live here, our futures can hang in the balance-we are the people who will have to live with an outsider's imposition of process. If this is to be the case, then the very least we request sound, analytical thinking-do we dare expect this from you, Ms. Rice? You are able to return to the security of your American home, culture and environment-we shall be left with the outcome of policies imposed upon us. We shall live the results; you can simply be a spectator. The investment we each have in these stakes is hardly the same so pardon us if we are at best skeptical of your intentions.
- Arlene Kushner, Condi's Fatal Error, FrontPageMagazine.com, 11/1/2007
- Staff, Fatah gunmen threaten to fire hundreds of rockets at Israel, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2007
- Israel Government Press Office