Road map 2: “This little sliver of land called Israel”

May 25, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "A road map to Israel's oblivion" (By Cal Thomas, Fox News, May 5, 2003)
2. "Going along with the road map" (By Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2003)
3. "A real peace process" (By Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, May 5, 2003)
4. "Until Israel is recognized, this road map leads us nowhere" (By Barbara Amiel, London Daily Telegraph, April 28, 2003)


“A SUGAR COATED CYANIDE PILL”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to the dispatch Road map to peace, or war? (April 24, 2003) and includes a number of articles published since then. I have split today's dispatch into four emails for space reasons.

Today, Sunday, May 25, 2003, an Israeli cabinet formally voted for the first time to accept a plan which envisions a Palestinian state within two years. This would have been warmly welcomed by those of us (including myself), who have long supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were not the Road Map so fundamentally flawed, jeopardizing Israel's future, and further delaying the day when a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state can live side-by-side next to a Jewish state of Israel.

To coincide with today's historic vote "to conditionally accept the road map," I set out some of the arguments explaining why there is so much opposition among Israel and her supporters to this latest appeasement of terrorism. (As I explained in my dispatch last month on this matter, the reason I am sending out more articles opposing the road map than supporting it is because almost all mainstream media in Europe and the U.S. continue to refer to the road map as though it is automatically a good idea, one that will decrease rather than increase the level of violence. Many who consider the opposite to be the case are not provided with a voice in the mainstream media just as their views were by and large shut out when they warned that the Clinton administration's support for Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority in its present form was not necessarily in the interests of peace and co-existence for either Palestinians and Israelis.)

Ariel Sharon, under intense American pressure, today persuaded 12 of his 23 ministers to conditionally back the Road Map rather than fall out with the Bush administration. This was despite strong opposition not only from Sharon's own party, but from much of Israel's population which in polls consistently shows that it wants peace and compromise with a Palestinian leadership that would actually be committed to it, but will not support phony peace plans concocted by European and American diplomats. A poll by the Ma'ariv newspaper last week found that only one third of Israelis favor the Road map in its present form.

Gideon Saar, the chief whip of Sharon's Likud Party, today branded the map "the most dangerous Middle East plan that was ever presented... We will inflict grave damage on the safety and survival of the state of Israel if we accept this plan."

Uzi Landau, another Likud minister, voted against the plan and called Washington's assurances a "sugar coated cyanide pill."

Finance Minister (and former prime minister) Benjamin Netanyahu said today that he was opposed to the plan and abstained in the vote, as did Education Minister Limor Livnat, Health Minister Dan Naveh and Public Security Minister Tsahi Hanegbi, other leading centrist members of the Likud party.

Those cabinet ministers who voted against the 'road map' included Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and human rights campaigner, who says that "like the Oslo accords, this phony plan (the Road Map) didn't address the underlying cause of the conflict" (the dictatorial and extremist nature of the present Palestinian government).

Eli Yishai, the head of the Shas Party, which is outside the ruling coalition, attacked Ariel Sharon for approving a plan for concession-making "before the blood of terror victims has dried."

Others voted for the Road Map not because they thought it was likely to increase the chances for peace but because of American pressure. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israel Radio he was not happy with the peace plan, but planned to vote for it. "I think the document is not a good one, but we have to choose when we battle the U.S., and now is not the time," he said. Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, head of the centrist Shinui party, voted for the plan rather than break with the Americans. "I think that the plan is bad at its core but with the Israeli reservations it has improved a bit," he said.

Even as the cabinet was voting today, another Israeli motorist was shot at by a Palestinian gunman in a drive-by shooting in the Jordan Valley.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“THIS IS SHAM MIDDLE EAST THEATRE”

I attach four pieces, with summaries first, prepared by myself.

1. "A road map to Israel's oblivion" (By Cal Thomas, Fox News, May 5, 2003). "The road map can only jeopardize the continued existence of Israel... This is sham Middle East theater. Having gained so many concessions from Israelis without living up to a single agreement they have signed, Palestinian leaders are not about to rescind their political-religious objective of eliminating Israel as a state and the Jewish presence in the region. The administration is as anxious to declare victory in the maddening Middle East conflict as the Nixon administration was to end the Vietnam War. Thirty years ago, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger trumpeted "peace with honor" following talks with North Vietnamese leaders in Paris. South Vietnam soon fell to the Communists, who had never abandoned their vision of one country under their dictatorial control. Israel could easily become like South Vietnam overrun by its enemy if the "road map" is implemented ... Among the road map's many problems is that it fails to fulfill President Bush's own conditions. In a speech last June, the president said the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a "sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure."

2. "Going along with the road map" (By Barry Rubin, The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2003). "The Europeans in general are very much in a mood for appeasement. They want to show their own constituencies they are solving the Arab-Israeli conflict (which they insist is the region's core issue); they want to stave off Arab anger and regional instability they fear will trigger terrorist violence and unwanted immigration; and they want to make money selling things to the Arabs. They care little about performance. It is not much of an exaggeration to see their basic message as: Give them a state as soon as possible, and get it over with. Who cares about the details? ... But unfortunate as the situation is and I'd prefer a real cease-fire, a compromise deal, and a Palestinian state living peacefully next door to Israel, wouldn't you? we should have no illusions about it."

3. "A real peace process" (By Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard, May 5, 2003). "Arafat remains the Palestinian strongman, able to fire Abbas or thwart his initiatives. There will be no peace with Israel so long as Arafat retains power ... it's time for the Europeans, especially British prime minister Tony Blair, and the Arab states (especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan) to do their part. They should stop supporting Arafat. Blair, in particular, should end his chummy phone relationship with Arafat. The Arab states, if they're sincere in wanting a peace accord, can help by sending no more money to Arafat and refusing to treat him as the man to see among Palestinians. If they walk away from Arafat, he will quickly fade."

4. "Until Israel is recognized, this road map leads us nowhere" (By Barbara Amiel, London Daily Telegraph, April 28, 2003). "The road map is a document of bureaucratic, primitive Utopianism... There will be 'free, fair and open elections' in Palestine and an 'immediate and unconditional' end to violence and incitement of hate towards Israel ... The Israelis see [the Road Map] as demanding irreversible actions in return for a series of reversible goodwill slogans from the Palestinians. Rather like selling and handing over your car for a cheque that will bounce ... If there were genuine acceptance of the need for peace with Israel, the Palestinians would have had their state 55 years ago when the UN gave it to them. All that matters in this discussion is one overwhelming issue: the Arab world has not wanted a Jewish state in the Middle East and until it is prepared to tolerate one, no plan will work. This is not to say that no single state or person in the Arab world will accept Israel, only that the fulcrum is rejectionist. It is futile to make peace with a few doves who when war comes will, like Jordan or Egypt, sit back on the sidelines and lament that it's none of their doing if their kissing cousins in Syria and Iran are trying to blow Israel up... Until there is acceptance of a Jewish state in the Middle East all peace plans are illusory and with real acceptance, any map is unnecessary."


A ROAD MAP TO ISRAEL’S OBLIVION

A road map to Israel's oblivion
By Cal Thomas
Fox news
May 5, 2003

President Bush appears ready to press ahead with the "road map" to establish a Palestinian state that can only jeopardize the continued existence of Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the road map drafted last year by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations will be published once the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, is on the job.

This is sham Middle East theater. Having gained so many concessions from Israelis without living up to a single agreement they have signed, Palestinian leaders are not about to rescind their political-religious objective of eliminating Israel as a state and the Jewish presence in the region. The administration is as anxious to declare victory in the maddening Middle East conflict as the Nixon administration was to end the Vietnam War. Thirty years ago, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger trumpeted "peace with honor" following talks with North Vietnamese leaders in Paris. South Vietnam soon fell to the Communists, who had never abandoned their vision of one country under their dictatorial control. Israel could easily become like South Vietnam overrun by its enemy if the "road map" is implemented.

Among the road map's many problems is that it fails to fulfill President Bush's own conditions. In a speech last June, the president said the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a "sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure." That is unlikely to happen since terrorism has been the official policy of Yasser Arafat and his bloody band of brothers for more than 30 years. The faux "democracy" that Abbas supposedly represents is about as credible as one of Saddam Hussein's near-unanimous elections.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said there can be no lasting peace in Northern Ireland until the Irish Republican Army destroys its hidden weapons, renounces violence and commits to a political process. He is right about that, but wrong when he and President Bush want to push ahead with their Middle East road map without making similar demands of the Palestinian leaders.

The new Palestinian cabinet is full of Arafat supporters. As many as 14 ministers are expected to be old Arafat appointees with just four to six loyal to Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen). While Abbas controls one "security" organization, Arafat still commands many far larger ones. Arafat refuses to accept Abbas' "demand" that the armed factions of Fatah, such as the Al-Aqsa martyrs brigade, be dissolved. Arafat will continue to be the puppeteer, no matter whom the audience sees on stage. He will resemble Richard Gere in the film "Chicago," pulling the strings and providing words for his dancing marionettes.

Abbas retains his hard-line views. If implemented, they will jeopardize Israel's very existence. In an interview last month, he continued to justify "armed struggle" against Israeli civilians. He has never repudiated his 1983 book, "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement," which denies the Holocaust occurred.

The minimum requirement before moving ahead with any "road map" is for Abbas and his cabinet to renounce violence as a means of achieving their objectives and then begin dismantling the terror infrastructure that has murdered schoolchildren and adult civilians for more than three decades. If that happens, the pressure will shift to Israel to reciprocate. But it won't happen because this conflict isn't about "two states living side by side in peace," as President Bush wants. It is about creating a new state that will be used as a base to eliminate Israel.

That Palestinian objective won't change because abolishing Israel is in the corrupted blood of Arafat and all his henchmen, including Abbas. The standard for compliance about violence should be no different from that applied to the IRA by Tony Blair in Northern Ireland or to Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Surely President Bush knows this. Perhaps he is merely staging his own political theater to expose Arafat and company as the liars they are. That's fine, but Israel should not be required to buy a ticket to this show until it sees the last act.

 

WHY SHOULD WHAT FAILED IN THE 1990S BE EXPECTED TO SUCCEED NOW?

Going along with the road map
By Barry Rubin
The Jerusalem Post
May 6, 2003

Here's a quick test: What is the correct name of the road map peace plan? Answer: A Performance-Based Road-map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

The title expresses the trade-off at the heart of this plan. If by their performance the Palestinians prove themselves ready for a solution, they will get the reward of a state.

The road map's basic logic is the same as that of the Oslo Agreement. An interim period of two years (compared to five in theory for Oslo) will give both sides a chance to show each other they are ready to make a comprehensive peace.

Why should what failed in the 1990s be expected to succeed now? I can see only three possible reasons:

Abu Mazen is prime minister. Since much of the problem in the 1990s was Yasser Arafat, his replacement should do better.

The suffering of the last three years should persuade both sides that they desperately need a deal.

Changes in the regional order, the defeat of Iraq, and the growth of US power will help the peace process to work.

Before discussing why these factors seem inadequate to bring success, let's look at the US and European sponsors. Both would like to see an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet they also have more immediate motives.

The United States wants to show the Arabs that it is their friend, to encourage acceptance of its actions in Iraq and wider program in the region.

But the American government is in no mood for appeasement. It will demand that the Palestinians meet performance criteria and make some real, though reasonable, compromises along the lines of what was offered in the Camp David summit and Clinton plan. It will strengthen Abu Mazen's hand and look toward the long-run, post-Arafat period.

Even if this round fails it can help lay a foundation for future success. The Europeans in general are very much in a mood for appeasement. They want to show their own constituencies they are solving the Arab-Israeli conflict (which they insist is the region's core issue); they want to stave off Arab anger and regional instability they fear will trigger terrorist violence and unwanted immigration; and they want to make money selling things to the Arabs.

They care little about performance. It is not much of an exaggeration to see their basic message as: Give them a state as soon as possible, and get it over with. Who cares about the details?

No doubt, the US interpretation will prevail. Yet all these external considerations are secondary anyway. What counts right now is what the Palestinians do. And what they that is, Abu Mazen have to do is to implement a real cease-fire in their war against Israel.

I believe Abu Mazen, Abu Ala, Muhammad Dahlan and their colleagues are sincere about ending the current conflict. Why not? It has resulted in a disastrous defeat for them.

Palestinian casualties have been heavy, the Palestinians enjoy no meaningful international support, their economy is destroyed, their infrastructure has been heavily damaged, and they are at the mercy of a leader who seems incapable of functioning in a rational manner.

As if that were not enough, it is quite clear that their current strategy of violence (a little guerrilla warfare, a lot of terrorism) is not going to defeat Israel. In other words, their current strategy guarantees that they will not get a state and that the occupation will continue indefinitely.

Therefore one does not have to be a genius to know that an end to violence, serious negotiations, and a compromise peace agreement is in the interest of the Palestinians.

But that, unfortunately, is the problem. Even the longest journey, so the Chinese saying goes, starts with a single step. In this case, that single step is Abu Mazen's pressuring which means forcing Hamas, militants in his own Fatah, and others into stopping terror attacks on Israelis.

There can be no successful deception here. Either attacks are being carried out, or they aren't. A small number, but not too many, would be accepted by Israel as evading Abu Mazen's best efforts.

As for Israeli attacks on Palestinian-controlled territory, these will obviously stop if the terror stops.

Let's assume Abu Mazen is acting in complete good faith in wanting to move the process forward. But what does he see?

Yasser Arafat trying to sabotage him at every turn. Arafat's newest idea is to establish a national security council reporting to him that will control the security forces and negotiations with Israel. He will try to reduce Abu Mazen's power whenever possible.

a cabinet that may be more loyal to Arafat than to himself.

an inability to order security forces to suppress violent attacks on Israel.

clear statements of intention from Fatah militants, supported by Arafat, and from Hamas, to continue attacks.

Palestinian public opinion receptive to a steady stream of propaganda that he, Abu Mazen, is a traitor for wanting to make a deal with Israel.

worst of all: obsessive Palestinian fear of a civil war. Anything is better than that, even the status quo.

In other words, Abu Mazen's chances of getting anywhere are minimal at best. The Palestinian argument will quickly become: Well, we really desired peace, but we knew Ariel Sharon wouldn't give us what we want, so it is all his fault.

Obviously, Israel must go along with the road map and show itself flexible, cooperative, and truly desiring peace. This is necessary to retain international support and keep open the possibility of Abu Mazen achieving something, or of better success in future.

But unfortunate as the situation is and I'd prefer a real cease-fire, a compromise deal, and a Palestinian state living peacefully next door to Israel, wouldn't you? we should have no illusions about it.

(The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, part of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC). His most recent book is The Tragedy of the Middle East.)

 

A REAL PEACE PROCESS

A real peace process
By Fred Barnes
The Weekly Standard
May 5, 2003

Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat doesn't yield easily. He responds only to force and pressure, never to appeasement, unilateral concessions, or "confidence-building" gestures. The good news is that arm-twisting has finally been applied by President Bush, Europeans, and Egypt and Arafat has yielded twice in ways he didn't want to. The first was to name a Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, the second to compromise with Abbas last week on a cabinet that includes several Arafat critics. These concessions do not mean peace is at hand. There is much more to do and much more pressure to be applied.

Start with Arafat himself. He remains the Palestinian strongman, able to fire Abbas or thwart his initiatives. There will be no peace with Israel so long as Arafat retains power. He is the fellow who turned down in early 2001 a settlement in which Palestinians would have gotten 98 percent of the West Bank, half of Jerusalem, a land bridge between Gaza and the West Bank, and the elimination of a host of Israeli settlements. Sadly, the just-completed negotiations with Abbas over his cabinet sent the message to the world that, still, nothing important can happen in Palestinian affairs unless it goes through Arafat.

Who can change this? President Bush has already done his part by announcing, in his speech on Israel and the Palestinians last June 24, a ban on American dealings with Arafat. This weakened Arafat, but didn't cripple him. Now it's time for the Europeans, especially British prime minister Tony Blair, and the Arab states (especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan) to do their part. They should stop supporting Arafat. Blair, in particular, should end his chummy phone relationship with Arafat. The Arab states, if they're sincere in wanting a peace accord, can help by sending no more money to Arafat and refusing to treat him as the man to see among Palestinians. If they walk away from Arafat, he will quickly fade.

More important, they must embrace Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen). For the Arab states, this means declaring support for him in public. Dennis Ross, the former Middle East negotiator, has suggested the Saudis, Egyptians, and Jordanians issue a joint statement with Abbas to declare undying support for the Palestinian cause. But the statement would insist the cause be pursued the legitimate way without terrorism or violence and include political and economic reforms.

Israel, too, has a vested interest in Abbas, since the alternative is Arafat. Israel can help, but only if Abbas meets his obligation to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israelis by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The members of the "quartet" the United States, United Nations, European Union, Russia must hold Abbas accountable for suppressing terrorism, which is part of their "road map" toward a peace settlement in three years.

As Abbas works to improve security for Israelis, Israel can reciprocate by making life better for Palestinians. Without that, Abbas will never gain real authority among Palestinians, and Arafat will find himself in a still stronger position. What could the Israelis do? Lots of things: Reduce checkpoints, allow more Palestinian workers into Israel, channel resources to productive Palestinian enterprises, and release some of the 5,000 to 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Discussions between Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, private or public, can work out exactly what each side should expect from the other in coming weeks. For Israel, it's a reduced threat of terrorism, for the Palestinians an easing of Israeli control.

Bush has a significant role to play. He's already done the hard part by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Now he needs to keep up the pressure on Middle East governments that support terrorism and Islamic extremism and block the emergence of democracy. That means, for starters, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Maybe we're wrong, but the president seemed too hasty in praising Syria for aiding the United States by promising to turn over Saddam's henchmen who seek sanctuary. That's fine, as far as it goes. But more should be required of Syria, such as ending support for Hezbollah, the world's largest terrorist organization, and tossing out of Damascus the 10 terrorist groups with headquarters there. One result will be a weakening of Palestinian terrorists, who now depend on Syria's aid.

Years ago, the late Abba Eban said the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. But that outcome is not inevitable. As a new prime minister without Arafat's bloody history but with tangible support from European and Arab leaders, Abbas could make a dramatic difference. But only if people who acted wrongly in the past by backing Arafat, for example do the right thing now.

 

“A DOCUMENT OF BUREAUCRATIC, PRIMITIVE UTOPIANISM”

Until Israel is recognised, this road map leads us nowhere
By Barbara Amiel
The (London) Daily Telegraph
April 28, 2003

[Please note -- I have edited out the first part of this article, which concerned Iraq, since this email dispatch is concerned solely with the Road Map]

... Next in [the British Parliament will be a demand for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli war. This week Mr Blair goes to talk about the new "road map" for peace with, fittingly one feels, Jose Aznar, the prime minister of Spain. This is Don Quixote with a road map to the windmills in his hand.

The road map has not officially been published but drafts have circulated. Produced by the "Quartet" of America, Russia, the EU and the UN, it is all that one might expect from that glorious collaboration a document of bureaucratic, primitive Utopianism that could have been written by President Carter and Madeleine Albright on an exciting hormone day.

There will be "free, fair and open elections" in Palestine and an "immediate and unconditional" end to violence and incitement of hate towards Israel. Given the history of the past few hundred years, one feels it could work only if every Arab state from Libya to Saudi Arabia had the equivalent of a cultural sex change.

In return, the Israelis will immediately dismantle certain watchtowers and settlements, partially withdraw the army and reinstate blocked Palestinian funds. The Israelis see this as demanding irreversible actions in return for a series of reversible goodwill slogans from the Palestinians. Rather like selling and handing over your car for a cheque that will bounce.

Official release of the road map text is contingent on the confirmation of a new Palestinian Authority cabinet by the PLA. Commentators have focused on whether the new PA prime minister-designate Abu Mazen has or has not compromised himself in the deal struck with Yasser Arafat. But this is out-of-focus. If there were genuine acceptance of the need for peace with Israel, the number of Arafat cronies in the new cabinet would be academic.

Indeed, with such an acceptance, the Palestinians would have had their state 55 years ago when the UN gave it to them. All that matters in this discussion is one overwhelming issue: the Arab world has not wanted a Jewish state in the Middle East and until it is prepared to tolerate one, no plan will work.

This blunt fact has been with us since six Arab countries invaded the state of Israel hours after it came into being 55 years ago. The Arab League has not made peace to this day. Such unyielding hostility can be ignored, I think, only because most people are fed up with the matter.

The amount of danger and bother the world takes because of the "shitty" little country of Israel has worn everyone out. Such a state of mind is not predicated on any special affection for Muslims and Arabs. It simply takes into account that 1.2 billion incensed Muslims insist their big problem is a little sliver of land called Israel and will cheer suicidal terrorists flying planes into skyscrapers if that action helps undermine its chief ally, America.

The Arab-Israeli conflict has negatively affected the world economy, wreaked havoc with travel plans and destabilised societies. Understandably, most Western leaders want to wash their hands of it. But it is uncomfortable to say this. They rely instead on invoking the need for "accords" and "road maps". A mantra develops about Israel's "illegal settlements", and no one faces the disquieting truth that until 1967 there were no Jewish settlements on the West Bank, the territories were in Arab hands and Israel still couldn't get peace.

We cannot use the broom of Oslo to sweep the Muslim world's inability to endure the notion of a Jewish state under the carpet. This is not to say that no single state or person in the Arab world will accept Israel, only that the fulcrum is rejectionist. It is futile to make peace with a few doves who when war comes will, like Jordan or Egypt, sit back on the sidelines and lament that it's none of their doing if their kissing cousins in Syria and Iran are trying to blow Israel up.

The Middle East is seething with its own difficulties: moderate Islam versus fundamentalism, tribal factions, religious splits and economic underdevelopment. Removing Israel would solve none of these. But the presence of Israel in the Arab/Muslim world has come to symbolise in some obsessive way all their fundamental failures and shortcomings. It is like a person with both a serious disease and a speck of dirt in his eye. His heart disease might kill him but as long as that speck of sand is under his contact lens, it is all he can think about.

Like squabbling scholastics, Mr Blair and Westminster will not face the real dilemma. They will quarrel over the Quartet's "evaluation" of "performance on implementation" of the road map's arcania of "obligations in parallel unless otherwise indicated". But this road map is a road map to nowhere. Until there is acceptance of a Jewish state in the Middle East all peace plans are illusory and with real acceptance, any map is unnecessary. One only hopes that God has a road map of his own.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.