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

May 24, 2003

The Roadmap is a reward for terrorism

Reject it.

In a statement, Sharon said, "in view of the U.S. promise" to address Israel's concerns, "we are prepared to accept the steps set out in the road map."

All else is spin. Since this historic “agreement “ between Bush and Sharon, there has been a blizzard of propaganda, spin, and expressions of confidence that Israel would accept, all making it more difficult for Israel to refuse.

Nevertheless, Israel should not accept the Roadmap. Even accepting “the steps set out in the road map” is bad enough. What’s the difference?

The road map essentially is a document that is unfair to Israel and is being imposed on it to strengthen the Palestinian side of the negotiations. The Palestinians were at a great disadvantage in Oslo because they had no bargaining strength and couldn’t get what they wanted. As in labour strife, there always is an option for a strike or arbitration. Having given up the right to strike (violence) and not having the right to ask for arbitration, they opted to break the agreement after they got what they could, and resort to violence.

The road map makes the Quartet the arbitrator and guarantees the Palestinians, not only a state, which Oslo didn’t do, but one that is” viable and sovereign” . I am sure we will hear more about the significance of these words when Israel wants the state to be demilitarized or when the Palestinians want to be guaranteed the right to work in Israel or to there fair share of water. As their population increases faster than Israel’s, they will demand more and more water. This is what they get for giving up violence as a tool or at least saying they give it up. In Oslo, Israel was not committed to offering them a state.

So that is their first reward for terrorism.

The road map gives them two more things without the need to negotiate for them. One, Israel must immediately abandon illegal outposts and stop settlement activity. This is a huge imposition on Israel who wasn’t allowed to negotiate whether they would do it or on what terms. Keep in mind that the growth of settlements and the creation of facts on the ground was the only thing putting real pressure on the Palestinians to make a deal sooner rather than later. Two, the settlement of final borders has to take into account the Saudi Initiative which required ’67 borders, albeit with freely negotiated exchanges of equal value. Once more this is a huge concession being forced on Israel.

In other words two more rewards for terrorism.

Now there may be salvation in accepting the “steps set out” rather than the road map itself. It depends on your definition of steps. If that means “stages”, Israel can live with that even though the last stage is a Palestinian state. Such a limited acceptance keeps Israel free of the implications of the Saudi initiative and other parameters of the map and also of the power of the Quartet. But as I said it all depends if there is such a distinction and it accepts on the steps.

Israel has every right to reject this road map even with the assurances they received. It has every right to demand that the terms of the roadmap be negotiated. They shouldn’t be cowed by the “blizzard” above referred to. The worse that can happen is that Bush will be unhappy and the deal will have to be bettered for Israel.

UPDATE
The New York Times today in an article by Bennett entitled
Sharon Gives Plan for Mideast Peace Qualified Support picks up on the distinction.
The language in Mr. Sharon's announcement — explicitly accepting the "steps" of the plan, not the plan itself or its goals — was no accident, his allies said. Rather than the swift resolution of all disputes sought by the plan, Mr. Sharon wants a long-term "interim solution" before full Palestinian statehood, arguing that it will take many years for the two peoples to learn to live together peacefully.