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

March 27, 2003

Off again, on again, Road Map (Ted Belman)

Where will it take us?

In my February 1st post Sharon/Bush Peace Plan I confidently wrote
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.
In my March 1st post Who will the US lean on? I concluded
If you accept that Bush is committed to win the “war on terror”, as I am, you must accept that he will never create a Palestinian state that flies in the face of that war.
Much to my chagrin, Bush in reaction to the difficulty he was having at the UN and in response to the pleas and pressure from Blair and who knows who else, announced on March 11th that the Road Map would be released soon. Many questions were raised and discussed subsequently. Would it be the Dec 20th Map or an amended one, would it be open to changes, how would Sharon react and so on. In the last week Blair and Straw made a number of remarks to give great cause for concern among supporters of Israel.

Will Bush try to mend fences with the EU?

I think not. Bush is not about to carry on with business as usually and he is certainly not going to allow France and Russia to have a say in the resolution of the conflict. He doesn’t need them and it is they who will be trying to make amends with him in order to participate in Iraq reconstruction. The US does not want to strengthen the EU so that it can oppose the US. It will prefer to deal with a coalition of the willing for future problems.

Will Bush open the door for the UN?

No way. The UN is out of control or at least out of the control of the US and the US will not be beholding to it. The UN will have to change in order to get the support of the US.

Will Bush wish to curry favour with the Arabs to win them back?

This is the real question. On the one hand, all the monarchies are supportive of the war on Iraq. Has he given them any promises with respect to Israel? If he hasn’t, I don’t see why he would have to after. As I have said before, it is the Arab world that needs to adjust to the new reality and not Israel. The US has yet to come down hard on Saudi Arabia (some say because of the Bush connections) but at the same time there is a growing awareness on both sides that the Saudi support for terror and Wahabism has got to stop.

Syria already knows their days are numbered. They will have no choice but to give in. They will be surrounded by hostile forces and will no longer have Iraq as an ally. They know that the US has a score to settle with Hezbollah and that Hezbollah is finished. Thus Syria will make peace with Israel and get as much of the Golan back as they can and will go on the American dole just as Egypt did. Iran, which is not Arab, will also have to adjust and the Mullahs will eventually be overthrown.

So I don’t accept that the US feels a need to pacify the Arabs with concessions from Israel.

Can the Palestinians make progress toward a state without putting a stop to terror?

Once again, why would the US tolerate this when they themselves are fighting terror. Abu Mazem still does not have sufficient authority to deal with terror nor to make peace. The fact that Mazem and Dahlan are now fair haired boys in the eyes of the US tells me that they are both committed to work toward a deal that is acceptable to the US and maybe to Israel. The US is not buying a pig in a poke.

If there is to be a state, subject to the end of terror, where will the borders be?

There are two competing considerations. First the new borders should result in the least dislocation of people, both Jews and Arabs. Thus many more settlements will be on Israel’s side than what Barak had proposed. The separation wall is presently taking a major detour to the east to include 40,000 settlers in Ariel and surrounding areas as one example.

Second the Arabs need to save face and the borders need to be as close as possible to the ’67 lines. The circle can only be squared if the Arabs are given something in return like an equal amount of land in the south or a concession on Jerusalem. I for one would like the Jerusalem Arabs to not have Israel citizenship ever even if this complicates the resolution of Jerusalem as an issue.

How will Bush solve this problem? If he makes the deal bad for Israel, he will have to stand up to great pressure from the pro-Israel lobby in an election year. On the other hand, Bush wants the Arab countries to make peace with Israel once and for all and to help on the war against terror. That’s his conundrum.

UPDATE from todays JPost after Blair met with Bush
With Blair - who recently has staked out a position as champion of the road map - standing at his side, Bush essentially repeated his prior position on the roadmap.

"Last June 24th I outlined a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security," Bush said at the joint press conference at Camp David. "Soon we will release a road map that is designed to help turn that vision into a reality, and both America and Great Britain are strongly committed to implementing that road map."
Seems to support what I wrote above. Bush reiterated the principles of his June 24th speech.