The Road Map: International All, Nothing or Something? by Gila Ansell Brauner

Which Road Map?

The US-proposed "Road Map" to Middle East Peace, as authored by the Quartet, was published first in draft on September 17th, and appeared in the New York Times in an unofficial, modified draft in October 15th 2002. It was officially presented to Israel and the Palestinians in November for response.

In the interim, the Saudis also came up with their own version, while the Arab League felt they should go further; the EU declared its support for the Saudi initiative. The public line in the US Arab lobby is that the Road Map was drafted by "the quartet and some of the Arab states". Yet, there are conflicting conditions between the Saudi version and the Road Map, as published so far.

An amended draft was presented to the sides in December, 2002, following another Quartet meeting. The response discussion was delayed until February 2003 at a meeting with both parties in London, namely, with Ariel Sharon, as the re-elected Israeli Prime Minister, and Abu Mazen, as the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister. There could be no clearer indication on the eve of the war on Iraq that, while US and its State Department remains the prime mover, America had relinquished its status as a solo operator.

The Bush policy speeches of June and December 2002, envisage two states "living peacefully, side by side" and the Road Map initiative follows this declaration of policy. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the interim: Secretary of State, Colin Powell now says the Road Map is "non-negotiable", so both the small print and the principles obviously constitute more than a policy document.

The Road Map document is to be made public within days, and the Quartet awaits a final response from Israel and the Palestinians, without further delay. It is top of the post-Saddam international agenda; following the Bush-Blair summit and consultation with the other Quartet partners (the US, the Europeans plus the UK, the Russians, the UN), it is expected to be implemented within weeks. The latest version and the push for implementation reflect the new international reality: Allied victory over Saddam Hussein's Iraq makes the US more inclined towards European (as represented currently by the British position) and UN wishes (to redress the balance with the UN and Russia); the US is also interested in Saudi and Arab states' approval.

The term Road Map was also used by former Clinton government diplomat, Martin Indyk, who spoke of the "road map out of this crisis" in July 2002. The Quartet and the Bush administration wants to move further and resolve the long-term conflict, too.

 

Tony Blair's "Final Destination"

Oslo was planned to as a 5-year process and extended; the Road Map is to be completed in only 3. The draft has been well publicized, with its staged demands on both Israel and the Palestinians, but the full and final version has yet to be published. It covers:

  • Palestinian reforms, removal of Arafat, elections, an end to corruption, incitement and terrorism, three years to statehood, foregoing the "Right of Return", a declaration of an end to the conflict;
  • Israeli withdrawal, final borders based on those pre-dating the Six Day War in 1967, an end to settlement growth, dismantling settlements, a Palestinian state.

To date, the Road Map has had one partial outcome to its pre-launch requirements: the appointment of Abu Mazen to the newly created position of Palestinian Prime Minister, but not as totally independent of PA Chairman Yasir Arafat, who remains the dominant figure in and behind Finance, Foreign Relations and forces of Public Order in the PA, following the amendment of his terms of appointment in Council. It's a far cry from official Palestinian approval of the Road Map "without changes", in hope of gaining statehood.

Israel has also expressed approval, but with public reservations on several issues. Each time Israeli forces have pulled out of a Palestinian sector, violence erupts again, with suicide bombings, as well as gunfire at Israeli civilians; the Israeli government is overtly sceptical and is presenting reservations related to recognition, security provisions, plus the issues it would like deferred to the final stage - including Jerusalem and the extent of sovereignty to be granted to the Palestinan state.

President Bush has sent a message to the world with his dictum about the war on terror, "You're either with us, or against us". Colin Powell has said the Road Map is not negotiable: judging by this dictum, together with recent EU and UK pronouncements, it would appear that the message goes for the Road Map, too. France and the UK clearly indicate that they consider injustice to the Palestinians the "main issue" in the Arab and Muslim world today. The short window of opportunity in the post-Saddam reality therefore places Israel in a quandary; Prime Minister Sharon can expect internal political turmoil between the diplomatic pressures, the peace camp - and those who view the Road Map as an act of force majeure doomed to fail.

We bring below a number of focal questions, together with the known facts and a variety of prognoses and perspectives, as presented by different websites (A-Z).

 

 

 

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04 Jul 2007 / 18 Tamuz 5767 0