Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5763 - January 1, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
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 Palestinian state.

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 confirmed.

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 more diplomatically.

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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