A Road Map for Whom?
For the foreseeable future, the relationship between Israel
and the United States -- and to a lesser extent between
Israel and Russia, the European Union and the United Nations,
the other members of the Quartet -- is concentrated in the
document known as the Road Map. This document seeks to fix
the path to a settlement of the conflict between Israel and
the Palestinian people by setting down the steps to be taken
to end the current violence and to include founding a
In broad terms, this document is supposed to lay down the
steps to be taken to end the current violence and to describe
how to set up a Palestinian state. An official version of the
document has not been made public and there have been
conflicting accounts of what it contains. None have been
Israel and the US have said that the Palestinian Authority
must change substantially. Both have said that Yasser Arafat
has to go since he is too thoroughly identified with
terrorism. Israel has indicated that this has two aspects.
For one, it is impossible to reach an agreement with him
since he does not honor his word. In a most important
particular instance of this, he reverted to terrorism after
the most solemn undertaking to renounce terror. Also, he must
not be allowed to continue in power after his terror since
that would in effect condone the terror he practiced.
Another issue that is supposed to be discussed and decided by
the Road Map are the extent of international involvement in
the process. So far the negotiations have been between Israel
and the Palestinians with the only third party at all
involved being the United States. The Palestinians have
always sought to involve as many countries as possible and
Israel has resisted this, seeing that the European Union and
the United Nations consistently take the Palestinian side of
disputes and sometimes do not even acknowledge that there is
an Israeli side.
Another issue is the structure of the commitments of the two
sides. In past agreements, both sides had commitments but
there were no links between the two. Even when the
Palestinians did not collect illegal weapons or hand over
criminals or even amend their Covenant, they could still
accuse Israel of failure to comply with its undertakings when
Israel responded to Palestinian failures by not implementing
further steps, since there were no links between the
undertakings of the two sides. This time Israel wants its
steps to be conditioned on the Palestinians doing what they
promise to do.
All these points and more are the subject of behind-the-
scenes discussions between Israel and the Quartet.
However there is one small problem. There is no doubt that
every member of the Quartet sincerely wants peace and quiet
in this part of the Middle East. Israel has spent its entire
existence in a pursuit of peace, and has only fought when
forced to by incessant Palestinian attacks.
The only ones who want the current fighting are the
Palestinians, who say as much at every opportunity. Hamas,
Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the like say very openly that
they reject all negotiated settlements and only believe in
fighting. Even Yasser Arafat says it very clearly, though
A road map only indicates how to go. It does not tell anyone
if or when to go there. No peace plan can be effective,
unless all the parties really want peace.
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