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

March 18, 2003

Announcing the Road Map

A win-win for all ... except the Arabs

According to Aluf Benn writing in Ha'aretz, Bush played the Palestinian card on Friday to everyone's advantage.
The more public opinion in their countries opposes the war in Iraq, the more Blair and Aznar grasp the Palestinian issue as a political life saver.

[...]Blair has becomes the patron of the Palestinian Authority, hosting a series of international conferences that dealt with aid and reforms. His highly-publicized clash with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a few weeks ago was meant to show Britain is not abandoning the Palestinians, as Britain heads to Baghdad. Sharon also gained by demonstrating he was determined to stand up to the hostile Europeans on the eve of the elections.
But Sharon did not want the Road Map to be announced until after the war.
The procedures naming Abu Mazen gave everyone an easy way out. Bush came out with a statement about the peace process, Blair and Aznar warmly embraced it. The White House hurried to console Israel and was helped by the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, which will always avoid any show of confrontation with Washington and prefers to emphasize the coordination and agreement. Sharon's aides, who visited the U.S. last week, came back convinced that it will be a long time before the political process is renewed.
This was acheived by Bush inviting comments to the Road Map from Israelis and Palestinians.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice called in Jewish leaders to her office on Friday and told them they had nothing to worry about. We won't do anything to hurt Israel and won't act without consultations and agreement with it, she said. "The president's statement was meant to strengthen Abu Mazen and help him win powers. We will lead the process and not the Europeans. We know you are worried about the Quartet, but we're in the driver's seat," she emphasized
I continue to believe that Israel has a peace partner in Bush and that the outlines of a deal have been agreed upon. Israel consents to the creation of a limited Palestinian state in exchange for keeping all the settlements (with few exceptions) and the land around them.