The Bush/Quartet ‘Road Map’ as presented is doomed for failure, as the onus for the success of the ‘Road Map’ has been placed squarely at the feet of only the Palestinians. Failure will be blamed solely on the Palestinians. All accounts thus far are of what is demanded of the Palestinian side, the status of the ‘Road Map’ at any given point is based on performance of the Palestinians up to that point. This is a two sided conflict. What precisely is demanded of the Israeli component?
Peace in the Middle East is achievable within a limited and achievable framework. The issue remains whether all components to the conflict from BOTH sides truly want peace and conciliation. It is obvious that the Israelis do not trust the Palestinians and the Palestinians do not trust the Israelis to abide by what each side needs to commit to achieve enduring peace, or at least a reasonable chance of the seeds of peace developing.
From the Palestinian perspective and from the Israeli perspective peace is possible only under certain conditions: Israel wants peace and security and guarantees for the near term and into the future. The Palestinians want independence, sovereignty by a complete return of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip less all of the settlements and outposts. There shouldn’t be any compromising on either of these demands. However, the ‘Road Map’ in its current form is already being led astray.
Just what is being demanded of the Israelis? Whatever happened to the dismantling of the outposts? Why is Palestinian land still being expropriated for not only existing settlement expansion, but for new settlement activity as well? Why has attention to equilateral requirements been allowed to be diverted away from ‘facts on the ground’? Why such a sudden shift of attention to the prisoner situation, allowing violations to occur in other areas to go unnoticed, or at least not admitted, or reported on?
For the Israelis the answer is simple. It allows them time to capture more territory and to divert attention away from areas they are responsible towards contributing to a continuation of the conflict. For the Palestinians, they respond in-kind with haphazard and ill advised retaliation by various factions of their resistance groups. The Palestinians are politically incapable of caring for themselves and are incapable of dealing directly with the Israelis. The decks are too stacked against them.
There must be a political solution to the conflict. The only other way is clearly not acceptable.
Their must be a way to balance the field between the Palestinians and the Israelis in pursuing the ‘Road Map’ process. With all due respect to the Palestinians and their Prime Minister, too much is expected of them and they have no infrastructure in place to deal with what is demanded of them, nor do they possess the ability to give the Israelis what they demand when there is no burden of performance placed upon the Israelis. What can be expected of the Palestinians? Has anyone seen actual footage of what Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps look like? The carnage and destruction leveled at them? The economic hardship and despair? It is no wonder the Palestinian Prime Minister struggles to keep the focus on the ‘Road Map’ in place.
I suggest the following changes to the Bush/Quartet ‘Road Map’: Form a governance committee to represent the best interests of the Palestinians in their dealings with the Israelis. The Israelis claim that they will only deal with the U.S. and will allow only a U.S. brokered deal with the Palestinians, so such a committee should be accepted willingly by both sides. The committee could be headed by Assistant Secretary William Burns and it would be staffed accordingly. The purpose and charge of the committee would be to act in place of the Palestinians in dealing with the Israelis to accommodate equilateral demands of the ‘Road Map’. To ensure compliance equilaterally and to assist the Palestinians in their fledgling political steps with the Israelis.
The tenets of the ‘Road Map’ should be pretty self evident and would be pursued on behalf of the Palestinians by the chairman of the Palestinian Oversight Committee, Mr. Burns: If the Israelis want complete peace and security, they must completely evacuate the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The preposterous and absurd ‘security’ fence must be dismantled. The Israelis must return all tax money that belongs to the Palestinians currently being held by the Israelis. At the same time all factions within the Palestinian resistance must declare a complete ceasefire, to be followed by complete disarmament and dismantling upon evacuation of the territories. To be monitored and enforced by American troops if necessary. In return for the complete withdrawal and evacuation from the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza Strip the Palestinians must give up on any demands for ‘Right of Return’. All political prisoners and detainees must be released. All other issues would then be negotiated. Jerusalem should be made an international governance under an United Nations Mandate. It could be managed by a rotating government authority. Pledges of unconditional peace and acceptance would be extended to Israel by all Arab nations. Both entities: the State of Israel and the State of Palestine would then be welcomed into the international community of nations with equal standing and all opportunities for economic recovery and enhancement.