With the Sharon cabinet accepting the road map in principle, Israelis and Palestinians now begin the first effort to reach a settlement since the collapse of the Oslo process nearly three years ago.
The "Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" is an ambitious three-stage plan that calls for an end to terror attacks and a settlement freeze in the first stage, a Palestinian state with temporary borders in the second, and a final-status agreement by 2005.
See the full text of the road map.
Of course, this road is familiar. So as we commence this new process, it is vital to recall the most recent, failed effort to achieve a two-state solution, the Oslo Accords.
Here are Oslo's four main principles, and how each failed:
1) Oslo called for a Palestinian leadership that denounced violence and showed fiscal and diplomatic responsibility. However, Arafat expanded the terror, extorted funding, and continued to deny Israel's legitimacy.
2) Oslo called for dismantling of all terror organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the confiscation of illegal weapons. In fact, the leaders of these groups were actually empowered by release from Palestinian prisons, entry to official office, smuggling of illegal weapons (Karine A), and the funneling of arms to terror factions.
3) Oslo called for ending incitement to violence, and education of the Palestinian population for peace. In fact, the P.A. used their media and textbooks to deny Israel's legitimacy, incite for the killing of Jews, and call for "holy war."
Despite Palestinian violations of Oslo, Israel continued to cede additional land and exceed previous offers.
4) Oslo presumed that violations would trigger the cessation of the process. Despite explicit Palestinian violations, Israel continued to pursue the Oslo vision, ceding additional land at Wye in 1998, and presenting a deal at Camp David in July 2000 that far exceeded previous offers.
To understand the current road map, one must understand its testing ground, Oslo.
Given the painful Oslo backdrop, Israel has raised 14 objections to the wording of the road map, objections Bush has pledged to address "fully and seriously." The Israeli cabinet's endorsement of the road map on Sunday was contingent upon the full implementation of these concerns, and Sharon said the reservations constitute a "red line" that will be binding on future Israeli governments.
Click to see the full text of the 14 objections. (hyperlink to anchor on this article below)
The 14 objections (aside from the Palestinian refugee issue) may be grouped into four main sections, remarkably similar to those that caused Oslo's downfall:
1) The emerging of a new and reformed Palestinian government. Indeed, President Bush called on the Palestinian people to elect leaders "not compromised by terror" as a precondition for the road map. The inference was clear to all -- Yasser Arafat must go. Enter Prime Minister Abu Mazen last month, and the road map was launched.
Abu Mazen stated: 'Arafat is at the top... We do not do anything without his approval.'
Yet just last week, Abu Mazen himself stated to an Egyptian weekly: "Arafat is at the top of the [Palestinian] Authority. He's the man to whom we refer, regardless of the American or Israeli view of him... We do not do anything without his approval."
2) The full dismantling of terror organizations. Yet no arrests have been made, and no illegal weapons have been confiscated. Meanwhile, homicide bombings and missile attacks on Israeli cities continue apace, and just last week the Israeli Navy captured a Gaza-bound fishing boat carrying explosives, instructions for assembly, and a Hizbullah terror expert.
As recently as March, Abu Mazen legitimized the use of violence and terror: "The Intifada must continue. And it is the right of the Palestinian people to rise and to use all means at their disposal... all means even guns..." (A-Sharq Al Awsat, March 3, 2003)
Sharon told William Safire: "I'll see Abu Mazen again during the next few days and we'll continue to talk on how to act against terror. That's the important thing in the performance-based plan. That's the condition for progress between and within the phases. That Arafat controls most of the armed forces is a problem."
3) The cessation of incitement against Israelis from official Palestinian sources. Yet lately, the PA has broadcast these "music videos": a) Actors portraying a fictitious torture of a Palestinian prisoner by an Israeli soldier ; b) Actors portraying Israelis in Nazi-like activities, like IDF soldiers murdering an elderly Palestinian man by shooting him in the head, and a Palestinian mother and infant blown up by soldiers ; c) Encouraging young children to ,throw stones at Israelis, while smashing Jewish symbols .
4) Full performance of each stage -- monitored objectively -- to serve as a condition for continuation. Is the road map's preconceived timeline realistic? According to the road map, May 2003 is the deadline for implementation of "Phase One": Ending terror and violence, normalizing Palestinian life, and building Palestinian institutions. Yet none of this has even begun. Does anyone seriously expect it all to be accomplished in the next three days?
The endorsement of the road map on Sunday indicated that Ariel Sharon -- long vilified as a "hard-liner" -- is now leading his country toward concessions for peace. Yet Sharon insists that this be predicated on a pragmatic, intelligent approach that avoids the four main problems that doomed Oslo.
As Sharon told William Safire: "I am willing to go far for a durable peace, but I will make no compromise on security. We are a very small country whose people are prepared to defend themselves by themselves. My historical responsibility is to preserve that capability."
Remarkably, The Washington Post found room to censure Israel's endorsement of the road map.
Remarkably, many media outlets found room for censuring Israel's endorsement of the road map. The Washington Post reported that "the deeply divided cabinet attached key conditions to the initiative that could make implementation problematic and ultimately doom it."
For further analysis of Oslo and the current peace process, see the documentary film, "Relentless":
1) Both at the commencement of and during the process, and as a condition to its continuance, calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat terror, violence, and incitement. These organizations will engage in genuine prevention of terror and violence through arrests, interrogations, prevention, and the enforcement of the legal groundwork for investigations, prosecution, and punishment.
In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure, collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed, cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority, activation of the full prevention apparatus, and cessation of incitement. There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror. The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and Zinni plans.
2) Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence, and incitement. Progress between phases will come only following the full implementation of the preceding phase. Attention will be paid not to timelines, but to performance benchmarks.
3) The emergence of a new and different leadership in the Palestinian Authority within the framework of governmental reform. The formation of a new leadership constitutes a condition for progress to the second phase of the plan. In this framework, elections will be conducted for the Palestinian Legislative Council following coordination with Israel.
The provisional state will be fully demilitarized with no military forces.
4) The Monitoring mechanism will be under American management. The chief verification activity will concentrate upon the creation of another Palestinian entity and progress in the civil reform process within the Palestinian Authority. Verification will be performed exclusively on a professional basis and per issue (economic, legal, financial) without the existence of a combined or unified mechanism. Substantive decisions will remain in the hands of both parties.
5) The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.
6) In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement, declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.
The plan settlement must include the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.
7) End of the process will lead to the end of all claims and not only the end of the conflict.
8) The future settlement will be reached through agreement and direct negotiations between the two parties, in accordance with the vision outlined by President Bush in his 24 June address.
9) There will be no involvement with issues pertaining to the final settlement. Among issues not to be discussed: settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem, and all other matters whose substance relates to the final settlement.
10) The removal of references other than 242 and 338. A settlement based upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity therefrom. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement.
11) Promotion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority: a transitional Palestinian constitution will be composed, a Palestinian legal infrastructure will be constructed, and cooperation with Israel in this field will be renewed. In the economic sphere: international efforts to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy will continue. In the financial sphere: the American-Israeli-Palestinian agreement will be implemented in full as a condition for the continued transfer of tax revenues.
12) The deployment of IDF forces along the September 2000 lines will be subject to the stipulation of Article 4 and will be carried out in keeping with changes to be required by the nature of the new circumstances and needs created thereby. Emphasis will be placed on the division of responsibilities and civilian authority as in September 2000, and not on the position of forces on the ground at that time.
13) Subject to security conditions, Israel will work to restore Palestinian life to normal: promote the economic situation, cultivation of commercial connections, encouragement and assistance for the activities of recognized humanitarian agencies. No reference will be made to the Bertini Report as a binding source document within the framework of the humanitarian issue.
14) Arab states will assist the process through the condemnation of terrorist activity. No link will be established between the Palestinian track and other tracks.