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

March 16, 2003

Hold on there. Not so fast

Israel removes all mention of 'independent' state in 'road map' and then some

Ha'aretz reports

All mention of an "independent" Palestinian state has been eliminated in Israel's response to the "road map" prepared by the Quartet - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

An "independent" Palestinian state, which would be initially established along temporary borders, is replaced with "certain attributes of sovereignty" and any such state is required to be "credible" and "law abiding."

According to Israeli officials the term "independent" requires clarification and they point out that it was also omitted from George Bush's June 24, 2002 speech upon which the road map is based. .

[...]According to the Israeli document, progress will be "conditioned upon the complete cessation of violence and terrorism, full disarmament of terrorist organizations, their capabilities and infrastructure, the complete collection of illegal weapons and the emergence of a new and different [Palestinian] leadership."

The Israeli document demands that the Palestinian state that will emerge in an agreement with Israel and will do so following direct negotiations between the two sides and not through dialogue and understandings as the road map states.

[...]For the first time, in this document, Israel delineates the terms under which it will agree to a freeze in settlement activity: "following a continuous and comprehensive security calm."

Israel rejects the notion that the freeze will also include the natural growth of settlements.

The document rejects a further withdrawal in the West Bank, according to the Oslo Accords, and the removal of settlements in order to grant territorial continuity to a Palestinian state - even during the stage of the temporary borders.

The Israeli document says the future of the settlements will be determined only by a final agreement and therefore Israel is only willing to grant territorial continuity to the Palestinians only where "this is possible."

President George Bush announced on Friday that the U.S. would present the two sides with the road map immediately after the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister with "genuine responsibilities."
In a number of my recent posts, I have distinguished between the Quartet's Plan and Bush's Plan.
According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, the version that will be presented to the two sides will be the updated one from December 20, which was given to the two sides unofficially. Only after the road map is officially presented will the U.S. receive the comments from the two sides and will encourage them to begin direct dialogue on the plan.
These proposed ammendments bring to mind my previous post Sharon/Bush Peace Plan Outline:forget the quartet wherein I quote from Debka , Sharon's proposed plan
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.
The similarities are remarkable.

So maybe the release of the Road Map is really the release of the ammended road map, Bush's Road Map, if you will, and maybe it is just for political advantage now and has no other significance.

What intrigues me is does Sharon and Bush really believe that they can make it happen.