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A Road Map To Nowhere

A Road Map To Nowhere

Has Mahmoud Abbas read the road map?


The US-sponsored "road map" to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not a very challenging document. The text, which is posted at the State Department website, is only 4-1/2 pages long, and most of it is written in reasonably clear English. Anyone willing to invest 15 minutes in reading it can glean a pretty good idea of its terms.

And yet a surprising number of people one might expect to be familiar with the road map seem not to know what it says. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, for example.

In an interview last week with Lally Weymouth of Newsweek and The Washington Post, Abbas said he had discussed the road map four times with Ariel Sharon and was "waiting to see" if the Israeli prime minister would deliver on his commitments.

"Does that mean freezing settlements?" Weymouth asked.

"Not this only," Abbas answered, "but all the items stipulated in the road map -- freeing the prisoners. . ."

"But the issue of prisoners is not in the road map," Weymouth objected.

"It is in the road map," Abbas insisted.

In fact, it isn't in the road map. There is nothing at all in the blueprint that requires or even encourages Israel to release Palestinians arrested for terrorist activities -- not now, not in the future. It is hardly plausible that Abbas didn't know that. More likely, he knew it perfectly well -- but figured most Washington Post and Newsweek readers wouldn't.

After all, in the weeks leading up to President Bush's back-to-back summits with Abbas and Sharon, the media harped incessantly on the release of Palestinian prisoners as a critical step in the latest Middle East peace process. Some reporters noted in passing that the road map doesn't say anything about Palestinian prisoners, but others falsely implied -- or stated outright -- that freeing criminals was an obligation the agreement map imposes on Israel.

The week Abbas arrived in Washington, for example, the Post was reporting that "the road map has stalled over several key issues," including "Palestinian demands for …the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails." A few days earlier, the Los Angeles Times informed its readers that Sharon and Abbas were to discuss "ongoing steps under the peace plan known as the 'road map,' including the release of some Palestinian prisoners."

Last week, succumbing to the international pressure, Israel agreed to free 540 prisoners, including 210 members of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Israeli government promised not to release any prisoners "with blood on their hands," but time and again that is exactly what it has done.

In June, for example, as a goodwill gesture to Abbas, Israel freed more than 100 imprisoned Palestinians. One of them was Ahmed Jbarra, who murdered 14 people and wounded 60 in a horrific bombing in 1975. Upon his release, the unrepentant Jbarra was hailed by Palestinians as a hero and promptly named an "adviser" to Yasser Arafat. Soon after, The Jerusalem Post reported, he was publicly urging Palestinians to kidnap Israelis so they could be exchanged for even more Arab prisoners.

But none of that got much attention outside Israel, where the focus has moved on to what else Israel should be doing to keep the road map alive. Much has been made of the security wall Israel is building along the West Bank border. Palestinian demands that Israel demolish the wall have gotten a great deal of attention, as has the Bush administration's public criticism. And yet the wall too is something about which the road map says absolutely nothing.

By contrast, the document says a great deal about what the Palestinian Authority is supposed to do. And the PA's foremost obligation, more critical to the road map's success than anything else, is to crush the terrorists who have shed so much innocent blood.

The anti-Israel incitement continues. Terrorism has not stopped. As for the dismantling of terrorist groups, Abbas says bluntly that it will never happen.

The language is explicit: The PA must "declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism." It must "arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." It must end "all official . . . incitement against Israel." Above all, it must carry out the "dismantlement of terrorist capability and infrastructure." These are not optional goodwill gestures or "confidence-building" suggestions. They are mandatory commitments the Palestinians must fulfill if the road map is to go forward.

So far they have fulfilled none of them. The anti-Israel incitement continues. Terrorism has not stopped. As for the dismantling of terrorist groups, Abbas says bluntly that it will never happen.

"Cracking down on Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, and the Palestinian organizations," he declared on July 23, "is not an option at all."

It is the Oslo farce all over again: Israel weakens itself through real concessions on the ground, while the Palestinians pocket the concessions and then break their promise of peace.

However well meant, this is a road map to nowhere. It will not lead to genuine peace and security, not so long as the Palestinians are ruled by the likes of Arafat and Abbas. Terrorism made them what they are; it is the taproot of their power and influence. From such men, peace will never come.

The indispensable first step to Mideast peace remains what it always has been: a new and different Palestinian leadership, one not compromised by terror. Until that leadership appears, the violence and bloodshed will go on.

August 9, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, August 22, 2003 12:00 AM

Phased Plan

This is just a charade by the PLO to revisit their "phased plan" of the '70's of destroying Israel (G-d forbid). This is not a road map to peace, but rather it is a road to wipe Israel off the map (G-d forbid). The only peace the PLO want is for the Jews of Israel to rest in peace (G-d forbid).

(5) Joe Lieb, August 19, 2003 12:00 AM

Roadmap to HELL

I read this article with interest and fascination. Could this be Oslo all over again? Reviewing Abbas's credentials: he is a holocaust denier, with known links to terror. He has so far refused to pressurise or dismantle the Palestinian terror agencies.

Roadmap to peace? More like roadmap to hell...!

(4) Z. Rajchgod, August 15, 2003 12:00 AM

Why are we doing this if other iside isn't following the road map?

As usual, Israel does what it agreed to do & the other side doesn't. We have freed so many terrorists who have killed our people & Abbas has no intentions of disarming the terrorists. Is Arafat still in control, looks like he is? Would President Bush do the same? I asked him that question, myself. No answer as yet.

(3) Dan, August 14, 2003 12:00 AM

Jewish weakness

This demonstrates once again, for anyone who was left with any doubt, that Israel is willing to commit national suicide. If you don't stand up for yourself, who will? Instead of being an American puppet regime, it's time for the real men to stand up and be counted.

(2) Anonymous, August 11, 2003 12:00 AM

Let us tell the truth

The article "A Roadmap to Nowhere" by Jeff Jacoby proves once again that Israel is very desperate for peace. What we must do is show the world over and over again that Palestinians are really interested in killing Jewish people and not peace. What must be formed is something like a Jewish Information Organization that continuously tells the truth to the world through all media, radio, television, newspapers, internet, etc. It would cost much money but aren't the truth and the saving of Jewish lives worth the price? Call it propaganda if you wish but the Arabs have done it very successfully for years while various Israeli governments often allow their lies to go unchallenged.

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