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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 07, 2003

Whither the Road Map

Here today, gone tomorrow.

According to Herb Keinon in JPost, Powell advised the Senate yesterday that they will release the Road Map “in the not too distant future” and that President George W. Bush soon "intends to take a more active role in finding a way forward with the Middle East peace process.” Israeli insiders advise Israel is not worried and suggest that Powell is just giving assurances to the EU and the Arabs that the Road Map has not been forgotten. Is there cause for concern.

In November I wrote The New Road Map in which I traced the progression of plans starting with Res.242, to achieve agreement and warned Israel to refuse to travel down it. I also registered concern that negotiations on the Road Map were linked to negotiations on Res 1441

With each new plan Israel had to forgo rights in favour of the Palestinians. The US and Israel always took the position that peace had to be negotiated between the parties and that is what Oslo required. Now, among the many problematic aspects of it, the most problematic of all, is that it probable involves an imposed solution.

Quoting heavily from Sharon’s speech at the Herzeliya conference in Sharon/Bush Road Map I argued forcefully that Sharon and Bush had made a deal that the Road Map would be based on Bush’s vision speech of June ’02. I advised,
Read this speech in its entirety. It sets out the path to peace agreed upon by Sharon and Bush. Forget about the Quartet. Sharon has dismissed it as "nothing". Forget about the Road Map. Sharon said he doesn't take it "seriously". Forget about Arafat. Once the Iraq war gets going so will Arafat with Israel's help. Forget about Powell and the State Department, they aren't calling the shots.
Finally, I concluded,
I used to think that the US had committed itself to both the Arab countries and to the EU to do more for the Palestinians. But I no longer do. Look at the lack of support from all these Arab countries. Look at the opposition of France and Germany and Russia. The US owes them nothing. If anything the actions of these groups have made it all the clearer that trying to win them over is fruitless and a bad idea. So look for more unilateralism. Prosecuting the Iraq war will be simpler and so will solving the Palestinian problem be simpler. Too many crooks spoil the broth.

There is no way that after taking a lot of trouble to defeat one terrorist state, Iraq, is America going to create another. Mark my words.

Fortunately Keinon reports that Powell added “But you're not going to get there in 100 years unless there is a different kind of performance on the Palestinian side with respect to ending terror," he said. "So performance is required." This reflects one of Sharon’s key demands.

I stand by my words in bold above. After Powell and the US have laboured so hard with the EU and the UN to get consensus and action on Iraq, I doubt that they are anxious to repeat the process on the Israel/Palestinian conflict. These parties, the US has learnt if they didn’t always know, are more of a hindrance then a help. Secondly, it is one thing to negotiate a Road Map with the EU and the Arabs when they are feeling strong and we need their support in Iraq, it is an entirely different matter when Iraq has been defeated without France’s help and the Arabs are worried about their own regimes. Finally, the US has its hands full with the impending war on Iraq and the brewing problem with N. Korea. So, I can't see them taking time out, any time soon, to solve this problem .

This plan will take its place in the dustbin of failed plans along with Oslo, Mitchell and Tenent.