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

May 01, 2003

Analysis: Road Map or Road Kill

Gerald Steinberg has some insights worth noting and some good news.
[...] However, the exigencies of the Iraq war and Tony Blair's demand for Bush's help in placating the Arab world led Washington to cut a few crucial corners in the process.

The costs are now apparent. Instead of real regime change, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was given the facade of power, while Yasser Arafat used the process and European support to stage another comeback. Abbas is saying the right things about ending attacks and collecting the stockpiles of illegal weapons, but Palestinians are not listening.

In contrast, Arafat repeats the code words and symbols calling for more terror attacks, while the presence of his old friends, such as the EU's perpetual envoy Miguel Moratinos, assure him that nothing has changed.

As a result, the road map has been stalled at the starting gate, and like the "new PA cabinet," the Quartet formed more than a year ago to coordinate strategy among the US, EU, UN, and Russia is a facade. While pretending to act in unison, the discord between Europe and the US on Arab-Israeli policy is as disharmonious as on Iraq.

In addition, the recent upsurge in suicide bombings (in fact, only a small portion of the massive effort designed to demonstrate some remaining capabilities) is a clear demonstration that the second prerequisite of the road map ending terrorism has not even begun.

In this environment, the Bush administration would look foolish pressing the Sharon government to make gestures and concessions to help Abbas (and thus, also Arafat).

Ironically, the road map was delivered just as the State Department released its annual report on global terrorism, highlighting the irrationality of endorsing policies that would create another terrorist state.

As a result of these signs of early failure, and in contrast to the public images and words, the Bush administration seems to be backing away from the road map concept. Instead of coming himself to kick-start the process, Secretary of State Colin Powell has postponed his stop here and in the PA areas, perhaps for a very long time.