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

March 14, 2003

Bush Road Map

Bush said, "This road map will set forth a sequence of steps towards the goals I set out on June 24, 2002"

Six weeks ago I posted the following
Sharon/Bush Peace Plan Outline

Forget the Quartet Road Map

On Dec 27, DebkaFile Reports had this to say,

Last week, members of the Middle East Quartet - secretary of state Colin Powell, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov, EU foreign affairs executive Javier Solana and UN secretary general Kofi Annan - on a visit to the White House, heard from President George W. Bush that their “road map” was incomplete. They were asked to delay its presentation.

Bush was impelled to make this request by his knowledge of the Sharon-Arafat channel.

What is the Israeli prime minister offering? DEBKAfile’s sources reveal some highlights of the still ongoing dialogue.

1. A Palestinian state consisting of West Bank Areas A and B. Israel would keep as sovereign territory Areas C plus around 10 percent of the land as well as the Jordan Rift Valley. The Palestinian state would thus rise on little more than 50 percent of the West Bank, leaving Israel just short of half.

2. Israel would likewise retain control of the main latitudinal highways running through the West Bank from the Israeli border in the West to the Jordan River in the East.

3. All the West Bank settlements, like the Jewish communities along these routes, such as Yitzhar and Tapuach, will remain in place under Israeli sovereignty.

4. A second road network would be tunneled underground at right angles to the first, providing territorial continuity between Palestinian locations under full Palestinian authority

5. This peace settlement would be implemented over 10 years. It would be contingent on the Palestinians calling off in the first stage all terrorist activity against Israel, disbanding the militias engaged in terror - including the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the Hamas and the Jihad Islami and expunging all forms of anti-Israel agitation and incitement from Palestinian education programs and mass media.

6. Jerusalem is not under discussion. As far as Sharon is concerned Jerusalem’s fate is non-negotiable and the city will continue to be the undivided capital of Israel.

Bush and Sharon both seem to believe that this secret interchange can end positively, encouraged mainly by the fact that Arafat has not vetoed the Israeli proposals out of hand and has in fact sent Abu Mazen back with some of his own. They are:

1. The Palestinians must have 65 percent of the West Bank. [although this probably is for the initial provisional state.]

2. The West Bank’s lateral routes must also come under Palestinian sovereignty, but may be leased out to Israel for 25 years together with the roadside settlements.

3. The transitional period must be cut down from ten to two years.

4. Like Sharon, Arafat has not raised the Jerusalem issue. Abu Mazen is working on a compromise formula for transferring Temple Mount and some of Jerusalem’s Arab districts to Jordanian control. A joint Palestinian-Jordanian authority would be set up as a formality.

Sharon has advised Abu Mazen to withdraw his candidacy for prime minister in the reformed Palestinian Authority, believing that Arafat alone has the authority to negotiate a deal on behalf of the Palestinian people. DEBKAfile’s sources add that the prime minister obtained approval from the US president for this move, which also effectively recognizes the suspension of the Palestinian governmental reform program. In effect too, Sharon who once proclaimed Arafat irrelevant, has now restored his relevance.

Subsequent to this reports unfolding events have confirmed the following

1. Powell confirmed that performance is the key
2. Sharon announced that he is meeting with PA representatives with consent of Arafat.
3. Mofaz has aggressively been fighting terror with no opposition from the US or the EU.
4. New tactics have included going into heart of cities in Gaza and destroying all armament factories and invading a bank.
5. PA starting to fight terror.
6. Weisglass said that a new leader would be elected who will be in complete control of the entire Palestinian Authority infrastructure.
7. Serious reduction in terror
7. $60 million transferred to PA.
8. Mubarak has invited Sharon to a meeting.

Looking good.
What is interesting to note is how good it appears for Israel. Abbu Mazen was doing the negotiations. He is the intended Prime Minister. Debka was wrong as to why he was told to withdraw when they suggested that Arafat was the man. It now seems that it was intended to force Arafat to give him all the power.

This plan has been under negotiation for a long time. Wasn't it Mazen who worked out a tentative deal with Yossi Beilin prior to Camp David which was much more favourable to Israel than Barak's offer. We'll see.