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Annapolis -- Reviving the "Roadblock

Annapolis -- Reviving the "Roadblock

TO: Distinguished Recipients
 > FM: John Whitbeck
 >
 > One of the most depressing aspects of today's proceedings in
Annapolis was
 > the emphasis placed on reviving and perpetuating the odious "Road Map",
 > which was launched in the spring of 2003 (and due, by its own terms, to
 > terminate in 2005) and which, as should always have been clear to anyone
 > who actually read it, had from the start two primary objectives -- (1)
 > ensuring that there would be absolutely no progress toward peace for so
 > long as this roadblock could be propped up as the "only game in town"
and
 > (2)
trying to provoke a Palestinian civil war. It has been fully
 > successful on the first score and partially successful on the second.
 >
 > If the parties at Annapolis were genuinely interested in ACHIEVING
peace,
 > rather than simply killing time, the "Road Map to Peace", if mentioned at
 > all, would have been given a decent burial and the focus of attention
 > would have been on the DESTINATION of peace and what it would look like.
 >
 > Instead, the "joint understanding" read out by President Bush concluded
 > with the hope-destroying statement that any peace treaty which might
 > eventually be concluded would not actually be implemented unless all the
 > obligations in the "Road Map" were fully complied with AS DETERMINED BY
 > THE UNITED STATES (which, of course, means as determined by Israel). The
 > Bush and Olmert speeches also emphasized this. Among the many numerous
 > impossible obligations piled on the Palestinians in "Phase I" of the
"Road
 > Map" are an "unconditional cessation of violence" and "sustained,
targeted
 > and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in
 > terrorism and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and
infrastructure."
 >
 > What, precisely, is "dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and
 > infrastructure" supposed to mean? Israel and the United States consider
 > the party which won the most recent Palestinian elections to be
 > "terrorist". Is a majority of the Palestinian electorate to be torn limb
 > from limb and Gaza to be bulldozed to the ground and salted over as
 > ancient Cathage was by the Romans?
 >
 > It almost too grotesque for words.
 >
 > In this regard, I am recirculating below an analysis of the "Road Map"
 > which Ambassador Robert Keeley circulated in May 2003, when it first
 > appeared, as prefaced then by a few contemporaneous thoughts of my
own. In
 > retrospect, I think that we were both too kind to the "Road Map".
 >
 > I still have the text of the "Road Map" on my computer and would be
 > pleased to forward it to anyone who would like to read it.
 >
 >
 > ----- Original Message -----
 > From: "John Whitbeck" <jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa
<mailto:jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa>>
 > To: <jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa <mailto:jvwhitbeck@awalnet.net.sa>>
 > Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2003 10:03 PM
 > Subject: Keeley on the "Road Map"
 >
 >
 >> TO: Distinguished Recipients
 >> FM: John Whitbeck
 >>
 >> I have previously circulated articles on the "road map" for Middle East
 >> peace by Uri Avnery and Henry Siegman. Transmitted below for your
 >> consideration is a very interesting, unpublished analysis of the "road
 >> map"
 >> by retired U.S. Ambassador Robert Keeley, former President of The Middle
 >> East Institute in Washington.
 >>
 >> If one reads this "road map", it is apparent that it builds on a false
 >> premise to reach a fantastic (in the literal sense of "fantasy")
 >> conclusion.
 >> The premise is that the problem in Israel/Palestine is Palestinian
 >> resistance to the 36-year-long occupation, not the occupation
itself. The
 >> conclusion is that, IF the Palestinian leadership will first suppress
 >> completely all forms of resistance to the occupation and make the
 >> continuation of the occupation totally cost-free to Israelis, THEN (and
 >> only
 >> then) Israel will choose, of its own free will, to end the occupation,
 >> withdrawing to (essentially) its internationally recognized pre-1967
 >> borders, vacating the settlements, sharing Jerusalem and agreeing to a
 >> just
 >> settlement of the refugee issue.
 >>
 >> The Holy Land may, in theory, be a land of miracles, and the "road map"
 >> may,
 >> in practical fact, be the "only game in town" for the time being, but,
 >> even
 >> if the "IF" were possible at the start of the road (which strains
 >> credulity), it is difficult to believe that anyone not smoking a
 >> controlled
 >> substance could genuinely believe that the "THEN" would follow. (By
 >> contrast, if the "THEN" were announced at the start of the road, there
 >> would
 >> no longer be any need for resistance.)
 >>
 >> When I first read the Oslo Declaration of Principles, I felt that it
 >> could,
 >> conceivably, lead to a decent peace -- IF both sides sincerely sought
 >> peace
 >> and approached the process (and all the ambiguities in the document) in
 >> good
 >> faith and with a genuine desire for the process to succeed. Each time I
 >> have
 >> read the "road map", I have felt that that it has been consciously
 >> drafted
 >> so as to ensure that it leads nowhere and that its failure is
guaranteed.
 >> Like Ambassador Keeley, I am astonished that the UN, the EU and Russia
 >> would
 >> have signed on to such a document.
 >>
 >> Of course, my moderate optimism with respect to Oslo proved unfounded.
 >> Perhaps my immoderate pessimism with respect to the "road map" will also
 >> prove unfounded. Perhaps the Holy Land is truly a land of miracles. One
 >> must
 >> hope so -- but not count on it.
 >>
 >> If any recipients have not read the text of the "road map" and would
like
 >> to, let me know and I will send it to you.
 >>
 >> Ambassador Keeley's analysis follows:
 >>
 >>>     Yesterday I circulated the text of the "Road Map" as published in
 >>> the NYTimes. It has supposedly been widely available since last
 >>> December, but I read it for the first time yesterday. I have just
reread
 >>> it, and wish to share my disappointment. At first blush it is something
 >>> to welcome, for it means that after a long hiatus the U.S.
Government is
 >>> again engaged with the problem. If it serves only to reduce
somewhat the
 >>> level of violence on both sides, that would be most welcome, even if
 >>> progress toward a final settlement is slow and halting. I am mystified
 >>> that the UN, EU and Russia signed on to it, for it is a most lop-sided
 >>> road map, 80% or more of which levies requirements on the Palestinians
 >>> to reform lots of things, while demanding very little of Israel (whose
 >>> behavior also needs reform) in the first two stages. Any realistic
 >>> prognosis cannot be very optimistic when its delivery was greeted with
 >>> another Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel and a major IDF
 >>> assassination assault in Gaza that resulted in a large number of
 >>> Palestinian deaths. The Road Map basically hinges on an end to violence
 >>> by the Palestinian side. But, as Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser to the
 >>> PLO, is quoted in the front page article in this morning's Post, the
 >>> abilities by the two sides to quell violence are quite asymmetrical. He
 >>> said: "Our extremists are opposition groups, but the Israeli extremists
 >>> are operating the government. We cannot control our extremists, but
who
 >>> is going to control the Israeli government?" The latter can halt its
 >>> violence tomorrow; the PA cannot end Palestinian violence until
there is
 >>> a final settlement. The spokesman for Sharon put it bluntly that
Israel
 >>> has no intention of ordering a cease-fire.
 >
 >>>     One very positive element of the Road Map is that it forthrightly
 >>> addresses the problem of violence on both sides, based on the unstated
 >>> conviction that there can be no military solution to the conflict: it
 >>> cannot be solved by force, by terrorism, by violence. But the Road Map
 >>> suffers from the same two major defects that made Oslo unworkable.
 >>> First, it required the PA to police the West Bank and Gaza to eliminate
 >>> violence by Palestinians, when Israel, with its overwhelming military
 >>> assets, its intelligence capabilities, its command and control,
facing a
 >>> mostly unarmed civilian populace, could not suppress the first
intifada,
 >>> and for the past two years it has been unable to suppress the second
 >>> intifada. If it could not do so, how could the PA do so, especially
now
 >>> that its security forces have been decimated, their infrastructure
 >>> mostly destroyed, and their having to deal with a thoroughly frustrated
 >>> populace that has suffered 36 years of humiliating and debilitating
 >>> occupation, with no end to it in sight?
 >
 >>>     The second major defect of both Oslo and the Road Map is that it
 >>> delays to the end, to the last stage, any resolution of the most
 >>> critical and difficult issues, the "final status issues": borders,
 >>> Jerusalem, refugees, settlements. And it requires the two sides to
 >>> negotiate these issues and come up with a solution to the whole
problem.
 >>> No progress has been made on any of these issues during the decade
and a
 >>> half of the "peace process." And no just and viable solution can emerge
 >>> from such negotiations, because the asymmetry between the two sides is
 >>> immense. Israel, based on its own military power and backed by the sole
 >>> superpower, can refuse to make the concessions (which are not true
 >>> concessions, since they are fundamentally obligations imposed by
the UN
 >>> in the key resolutions mentioned in the Road Map--242, 338, 1397) that
 >>> will be necessary for a viable Palestinian state to come into
being. The
 >>> Palestinian side is too weak to obtain what it needs through such a
 >>> negotiation.
 >
 >>>     In Phase II  an independent Palestinian state with provisional
 >>> borders is supposed to come into being. This formula is quite
 >>> transparent; since at this stage nothing will have been done about the
 >>> Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza, and
 >>> the annexations of land around Jerusalem. This state with provisional
 >>> borders will not be viable in any real sense. The single most
important
 >>> obstacle to a permanent solution are the settlements, which are
illegal,
 >>> have always been illegal, and must be vacated in any viable and just
 >>> solution. The Post's reporting article had as a sub-head "Calling for
 >>> action to dismantle Israeli settlements and end Palestinian violence."
 >>> This is very misleading, for in the text of the Road Map one finds only
 >>> that in Phase I "Israel immediatelty dismantles settlement outposts
 >>> erected since March 2001" and "Consistent with the Mitchell Report,
 >>> Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of
 >>> settlements)." This merely stops the continuation of the illegal
 >>> actions, but does not reverse any of the past. There is only the
vaguest
 >>> mention of settlements in the Phase II section ("including further
 >>> action on settlements"), with no specific actions required of Israel.
 >>> This means that they will continue to exist as is, with over 400,000
 >>> inhabitants, and no doubt protected by the IDF and having their own
 >>> exclusive access roads, thus creating Bantustans in the rest of the
 >>> terrorities under eventual Palestinian control within those provisional
 >>> borders. Israel can be expected to do everything possible to preserve
 >>> those settlements, or at least most of them, in any final status
 >>> negotations.
 >
 >>>     One final point: All of those illegal settlements should be
vacated,
 >>> but not "dismantled," the term that is often used. Why? I would here
 >>> like to reiterate the wise and imaginative proposal by Mark Heller, the
 >>> distinguished Israeli academic, in his gloss on the Saudi Crown
Prince's
 >>> offer in a March 2002 article. Heller estimated that 80 per cent of
the
 >>> some 250,000 settlers in the non-Jerusalem settlements in the West Bank
 >>> and Gaza are not religious-nationalist diehards and would be willing to
 >>> leave if they could buy equivalent homes inside Israel proper. He
 >>> estimated the cost of buying them out at 10 billion dollars (and
thought
 >>> Saudi money might be made available for this purpose). Furthermore, he
 >>> proposed that to preempt Arab criticism that Arabs shouldn't be paying
 >>> Israelis to undo what they shouldn't have done in the first place, the
 >>> deal could be that the empty houses would be held in escrow for
 >>> Palestinian refugees, e.g., from Lebanon, to be resettled in the
 >>> Palestinian state as part of the peace agreement. "What the Saudis
would
 >>> really be doing," he wrote, "was financing the cost of housing for
 >>> refugees, with Israel contributing the infrastructure (roads, sewage,
 >>> electricity grid, etc.)." This would be a brilliant way of solving two
 >>> of the final status issues in combination: the issues of the illegal
 >>> Israeli settlements and the fate of (many of) the Palestinian refugees
 >>> in Lebanon and Syria, who would have to give up the "right of return"
 >>> that is anathema to Israel.
 >
 >>>     If the settlements issue can be settled, peace is possible. The
 >>> Palestinians have  already agreed to accept only 22 per cent of mandate
 >>> Palestine for their state. Turning that land over, as required by
the UN
 >>> resolutions, is the only thing that will bring peace to Israel and to
 >>> the region as a whole. Oslo, though flawed, was essential because it
 >>> established mutual recognition by the two sides. If the road map can
 >>> lead to a solution of the final status issues, which were never
 >>> seriously addressed under Oslo, peace is possible. At the moment,
though
 >>> flawed as well, it is the only game in town
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