Road map 5: Abbas says Arafat still in charge

May 25, 2003

Please first see the note and dispatch from today titled Road map 2: This little sliver of land called Israel. I have split today's dispatch into four emails for space reasons.

-- Tom Gross

 

CONTENTS

1. "Barak: Road map won't work if Arafat has power" (Ha'aretz)
2. "New Palestinian PM says Arafat is still in charge" (Reuters, May 21, 2003)
3. "Palestinian FM: PA will not disarm terrorist groups" (Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2003)
4. "Road map to disaster" (By Elyakim Haetzni, May 1, 2003)



SUMMARIES

“THE OSLO AGREEMENTS WERE CHILD’S PLAY COMPARED TO THE ROAD MAP”

In this email, I attach four pieces, with summaries first, as usual.

1. "Barak: Road map won't work if Arafat has power" (Ha'aretz).

2. "New Palestinian PM says Arafat is still in charge" (Reuters, May 21, 2003). New Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said President Yasser Arafat remained in charge. "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. There will be no serious problems that lead to 'divorce'," Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, said in an interview with Egypt's semi-official al Mussawar weekly.

3. "Palestinian FM: PA will not disarm terrorist groups" (The Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2003). The Palestinian Authority will not disarm Palestinian terrorist groups until until Israel accepts the 'roadmap' plan to Palestinian statehood unconditionally, Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha'ath said Tuesday. "The Palestinian government will not initiate any conversation with the militant factions until Israel declares its unconditioned approval of the 'roadmap'", Sha'ath told reporters in Cairo after meeting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

4. "Road map to disaster" (By Elyakim Haetzni, May 1, 2003). This is a lengthy piece by Haetzni, an Israeli lawyer with hard-line political views. "In brief, we may state without exaggeration that we are facing a Road Map to Disaster, a document whose consequences are no less severe than those of the British White Paper of 1939. (which prevented Jews trying to escape from Nazi occupied Europe entering Israel prior to 1948, thereby sending them to certain death). The Oslo Agreements were child's play compared to this Road Map. Methodological criticism of the Oslo Accords pointed to a basic flaw: Israel's haste to establish the Palestinian Authority and accord the Palestinians authority, territory, weapons and funds, while leaving the chief points of disagreement borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and sovereignty to be resolved later. This enabled the Palestinians to exploit their achievements in an attempt to force their own preferred solution to the deferred issues to be resolved. Sharon apparently failed to learn a lesson from the Oslo Accords, having repeated this tactical error under far more serious circumstances: This time, he is paying the Palestinians an advance in the form of a sovereign state..."



FULL ARTICLES

“WE MUST MAKE CERTAIN THAT ARAFAT BE STRIPPED OF ANY EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY”

Barak: Road map won't work if Arafat has power
Ha'aretz

Former prime minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that the road map can only be implemented successfully if Arafat is removed from a position where he can influence the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. "We must make certain that Arafat be stripped of any executive authority," Barak said on Israel Television. "If he has any bit of control or authority, there will be no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians." Barak described the European vision of the plan as "very dangerous to Israel," and said, "We must insist that what is implemented be as close as possible to the Bush vision."

 

ABBAS SAYS ARAFAT IS STILL IN CHARGE

New Palestinian PM says Arafat is still in charge
Reuters
May 21, 2003

New Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said President Yasser Arafat remained in charge despite a U.S. and Israeli refusal to deal with him, and said his stamp of approval should precede any political action.

"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," Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, said in an interview with Egypt's semi-official al Mussawar weekly.

"For us, Abu Ammar is the president elected by the Palestinian people and he is the chairman of the whole Palestinian Authority. We do not do anything without his approval," Abbas said, referring to Arafat by his nom de guerre.

After a power struggle with Arafat, Abbas came to power last month amid intense U.S. pressure for Palestinian reforms. Washington accuses Arafat of doing too little to rein in militants.

"I will not allow any serious differences between Arafat and me," Abbas told al Mussawar's editor-in-chief Makram Mohamed Ahmed in Gaza. "There may be day-to-day differences... But there will be no serious problems that lead to 'divorce'."

Abbas reiterated his backing and respect for Arafat, who symbolizes the struggle for independence for most Palestinians and Arabs. The prime minister said he would not travel abroad until the president was also allowed full freedom of movement.

"I cannot imagine how can there be different treatments for me and for Abu Ammar," he said, referring to Israeli restrictions on Arafat's ability to travel.

Earlier this month, Abbas held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the highest-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting in more than two years.

Abbas said they discussed the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan but Palestinian and Israeli views were far apart. While the Palestinians have accepted the initiative, Israel has raised several reservations.

"We as Palestinians are determined to accept the road map as we received it. But Sharon insists on accepting the 'principles' of the road map," Abbas said. "The two stances are totally different."

 

PALESTINIAN FM: PA WILL NOT DISARM TERRORIST GROUPS

Palestinian FM: PA will not disarm terrorist groups
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
May 20, 2003

The Palestinian Authority will not disarm Palestinian terrorist groups until the "Israeli occupation forces stop the killing and the oppression" in the territories and until Israel accepts the 'roadmap' plan to Palestinian statehood unconditionally, Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha'ath said Tuesday.

"The Palestinian government will not initiate any conversation with the militant factions until Israel declares its unconditioned approval of the 'roadmap'", Sha'ath told reporters in Cairo after meeting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Sha'ath also met in Cairo with Gen. Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian Intelligence, who is trying to arrange a meeting in the Egyptian capital between different Palestinian factions to discuss the possibility of suspending terrorist attacks inside Israel.

"How can we ask the Palestinian resistance factions to lay down their weapons while Israeli tanks are raiding [northern Gaza Strip town] Beit Hanoun and killing its residents for five days now?" the Palestinian minister asked.

Sha'ath said he discussed the Israeli threats to expel Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat following the recent spate of suicide bombings with Mubarak. "President Arafat's life is in danger," he added.

He urged Mubarak to launch an urgent campaign with the help of other Arab countries to save Arafat's life, pointing out that the Egyptian president had already contacted Israel and the US to warn them against taking any action against the PA chairman.

Sha'ath said he delivered a written message from Arafat to Mubarak briefing him on the latest developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and accusing Israel of seeking to sabotage the road map plan.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian cabinet minister on Tuesday told The Jerusalem Post that the new Palestinian cabinet still doesn't have a plan to disarm militias. "Talk about a security plan to fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad is untrue," the minister said.

He noted, however, that Minister for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan has been holding secret talks in the Gaza Strip with representatives of some Palestinian factions to prepare for another round of talks in Cairo over a cease-fire. The minister said Hamas and Islamic agreed in principle to attend the talks.

 

ROAD MAP TO DISASTER

Road map to disaster
By Elyakim Haetzni
May 1, 2003

PROLOGUE

In brief, we may state without exaggeration that we are facing a Road Map to Disaster, a document whose consequences are no less severe than those of the British White Paper of 1939. [The British White Paper prevented Jews from entering Israel prior to 1948 when Israel became a state. In effect, the British White Paper prevented the saving of six million European Jews who had no place to go except to the ovens of Nazi Germany.]

The Oslo Agreements were child's play compared to this Road Map. Methodological criticism of the Oslo Accords pointed to a basic flaw: Israel's haste to establish the Palestinian Authority and accord the Palestinians authority, territory, weapons and funds, while leaving the chief points of disagreement borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and sovereignty to be resolved later. This enabled the Palestinians to exploit their achievements in an attempt to force their own preferred solution to the deferred issues to be resolved.

Sharon apparently failed to learn a lesson from the Oslo Accords, having repeated this tactical error under far more serious circumstances: This time, he is paying the Palestinians an advance in the form of a sovereign state. From that point on, they can fight to achieve their perceived objectives as a bona fide state, a member of the United Nations, equipped with all tools, authority and individual support entailed thereby.

After two and a half years of the present Intifada that he declared and opened, Yasser Arafat can credit himself with having achieved all his war objectives: A Palestinian state within immediate reach, international involvement and supervision, introduction of the United Nations and Europe into the area, military involvement by Jordan and Egypt, elimination of Jewish settlements and release of Israel's effective hold on most parts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It is chilling indeed to realize that we have paid for this total political victory with over a thousand Jews murdered and many thousands more wounded since the Oslo Accords were drafted. It is all the more frustrating to think that Arafat thus emerges as the unquestionable winner, despite Israel's clear military victory.

FULL ARTICLE

INTRODUCTION

All the following citations are derived directly from the Third (and to the best of our knowledge the most recent) Draft of the Road Map, formulated by the four powers known as "the Quartet" (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia), whose publication had been postponed at Israel's request pending the January 28 elections and the formation of a new Cabinet.

The following are the main points of this document, whose full name is: A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

1. Establishment of a Palestinian State

As is evident from the Road Map's title and text, the key objective is establishment of "an independent and viable Palestinian state with sovereignty" and "a maximum extent of geographical continuity" (the Road Map makes no mention of Sharon's conditions, e.g. that this state be demilitarized, that it not be granted authority to control borders or airspace or contract international agreements, etc.).

The Palestinian State will be established in two phases:

A. "The option of establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders" following general elections in 2003. The Road Map states explicitly that "the members of the Quartet Committee will push towards an international recognition of the Palestinian state, including the possibility of membership in the United Nations."

B. A Palestinian state with permanent boundaries, to be established "after solution of issues concerning borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements" in 2005 (disregarding the Israeli Prime Minister's well-known stipulation that the process extend over at least ten years).

2. Internationalization of the Conflict

A. Two International Conferences.
B. The Quartet.

The First International Conference will convene in 2003 after the Palestinian elections to "launch a process that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders."

The Second International Conference will convene in 2004 "to ratify the agreement reached on the state with temporary borders and to launch a process "that leads to a final solution..." [and a permanent Palestinian state].

All Governments of Israel, right-wing and left-wing alike, have avoided international conferences like the plague. The reasons for their decision, so obvious that even a child could understand them, remain unchanged during Sharon's term of office. In fact, the situation may well have worsened, considering the extensive international support expressed for the Arabs, along with overt hostility towards Israel and even Jews as a whole.

The Quartet is the chief instrument applied to wrest freedom of sovereign behavior from Israel and grant it to the Palestinians. The following are a few of its functions and authorities:

C. Convening International Conferences (although it may "consult" with the parties involved). In other words, International Conferences will be forced on Israel against its will.

D. Deciding, based on "the collective ruling of the Quartet Committee whether the conditions are appropriate for progress taking into consideration the performance of all parties." This means that transition to the Palestinian state phase will be determined by foreign elements, contravening Sharon's stipulation that any such activity be dependent on Israeli assessment of elimination of terror, confiscation of weapons, cessation of incitement and the like. In brief, we have been denied the right to conflict management.

E. Establishing a means of monitoring implementation of the Road Map by Israel and the Palestinians. We recall that Sharon avoided any substantive military activity for a year and a half just to keep international observers out of the area. Now, he has consented to institutionalized international supervision that will essentially undermine our sovereignty in managing the conflict from the outset, even before a Palestinian state is established.

F. The Quartet will ensure that both sides "perform their commitments in a parallel manner." This proviso contravenes Sharon's insistence that any measure taken by Israel must be preceded by the Palestinian side's having carried out its commitments to the fullest. For example, the Palestinian undertaking to eliminate terror will be rendered parallel to Israel's commitments regarding settlements (see below). The very apposition of these two issues is outrageous. Moreover, it is obvious that the Palestinians will perceive themselves as exempt from the obligation to halt terror simply because construction is taking place or some prefabricated structure or other has been set up on the Israeli side, including eastern Jerusalem. Adjudication of such disputes will be vested in the Quartet, that will hear these claims of Israeli violations. The Quartet's involvement thus largely vitiates Israeli sovereignty.

G. The Quartet plays a decisive role in other respects as well:

* Intervening "whenever the need arises" in direct negotiations between the parties, thereby nullifying another principle that Israel held sacred for decades: Direct negotiations.
* Determining "a realistic timetable" for progress.
* Offering "effective and practical support" at each stage of transition towards Palestinian rule, i.e. intervention in all spheres of activity finances, administration, security and the like. Such intervention is already taking place.
* Intervening in the achievement of a "final solution," including all that concerns Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.
* International efforts to facilitate reform and stability of the Palestinian institutions and the Palestinian economy," i.e. intervention in all spheres of activity.

3. Settlements

A. The Road Map insists that "the Israeli government dismantles immediately all settlement enclaves that were erected since March 2001" or: "the Israeli government dismantles all settlement outposts that were erected since March 2001." According to both these versions, dismantling of outposts and the settlement freeze described below are not contingent on prior cessation of terror but are to be carried out, as indicated, "in parallel," with no differentiation between "legal" and "illegal" outposts.

B. "The Israeli government freezes all settlement activities ... (including the natural growth of settlements)" or: "the Israeli government freezes all settlement activities ... along with giving priority to the projects that threaten the continuity of Palestinian residential regions, including the regions around Jerusalem," all to be carried out in 2003.

C. Demanding "a maximum extent of geographical [or: territorial] continuity, including additional steps on the issue of settlements" for establishment of a state with temporary borders (the intention is transparent: Uprooting of settlements that interfere with "geographical continuity," namely the Judean Hills settlements). This too is to be carried out before establishment of the provisional state, i.e. by the end of 2003.

D. Discussion of the fate of the remaining settlements will take place before establishment of a Palestinian state with permanent borders, i.e. by the end of 2005.

4. Jerusalem

A. "The Israeli government will reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other Palestinian closed institutions in East Jerusalem," meaning that Orient House, among other institutions, will be functioning once again.

B. Discussions regarding the permanent situation aim at providing "a realistic... and just solution to the issue of refugees and negotiable decision on the status of Jerusalem that takes into consideration the political and religious concerns of both parties." This accords the Arabs in Jerusalem political status equivalent to that of Israel, thereby mandating a priori division of the city. The expression "just solution" regarding the refugees does not augur well either.

5. "Security"

"The implementation of the U.S. plan starts for reconstruction, training and resumption of the plan of security coordination in cooperation with an external supervision council that includes the U.S., Egypt, Jordan (The EU demands adding the phrase: 'with support from the Quartet Committee or with support from the EU')." It is especially ominous to note Sharon's consent to involvement of Egyptian and Jordanian military elements!

6. Other Elements

A. The Saudi Initiative

"The plan takes into special consideration the Saudi Initiative which was ratified by the Arab Summit in Beirut." This initiative explicitly calls for full withdrawal to the 1967 borders (including Jerusalem) and the return of refugees according to UN Resolution 194, a point stipulated unequivocally at the Beirut Summit. Sharon's attempts to have it deleted were unsuccessful.

B. "Terminating the Occupation"

This terminology demonstrates that mention of the Saudi Initiative is not a mere literary device, as corroborated towards the end of the Road Map: "... the parties reach an agreement on the permanent and comprehensive status that end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in 2005 through an agreed upon settlement reached through negotiations between the parties and based on the UN Security Council Resolution... that end occupation which started in 1967."

C. The Golan Heights

"to achieve a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and the Lebanese-Israeli tracks."

"A second international conference ... [that will] support the progress towards a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East between Israel and Lebanon and between Israel and Syria as soon as possible."

D. "Deliberate Malfeasance"

The Israeli government will not undertake any acts that undermine the confidence, including deportation, and attacks against civilians... confiscation or demolition of homes and Palestinian properties as punitive measure or facilitating Israeli construction and demolishing civil institutions and the Palestinian infrastructure. All Israeli official institutions end instigation (or: incitement) against Palestinians."

To achieve balance, Israel, too, is accused of incitement: Israeli construction is considered to "undermine confidence." This is no mere theoretical matter, as indicated in the Bedein Report (published in the Hebrew weekly Besheva): "When I asked a U.S. Embassy spokesperson whether renovation of the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City would be considered illegal construction, the response I received in the name of United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer was that indeed, any construction in the Old City of Jerusalem would be deemed 'illegal' according to U.S. foreign policy."

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth carried the following item on January 21, 2003: Powell Responds to Sharon: "We helped set up the Quartet and support it completely," said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday in response to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's derisive reaction.

Speaking in New York, Powell said that "once elections have been held in Israel, we will cooperate with the Quartet in its efforts to achieve an agreement in the Middle East. We are committed to the Quartet and the Road Map, on which we've been working very hard."

Powell also "reminded" Sharon of President George W. Bush's vision: "His goal is to establish a Palestinian state in the region."

The Bush Plan, that is now tightening like a noose around Sharon's neck, was put forward as a cooperative effort by both heads of state. Since Israel was established, it has always been a dependent of the United States "and not always well fed at that. From now on, we've been abandoned to the vagaries of the United Nations, the Europeans and Russia, all with the active participation of the Sharon Government and its Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who stated in an interview with Dan Margalit on Israel Television's Channel One (October 15, 2002): "The Government announced that it accepts Bush's vision of two states for two peoples," adding that "A third party has now joined - the Quartet."

Sharon, interviewed by Margalit the next day, indicated that "acceptance of the Bush Plan is a strategic decision. The plan is essentially a joint Israeli-American plan."

Foreign Minister Peres presented the President of Mauritania with "the Quartet's plan, including ... establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders ... The Quartet is now working on drawing up a detailed Road Map, an idea that Israel accepts in principle..." (Yedioth Ahronoth, October 9, 2002).

Strange as it may sound, the Road Map that everyone is so worried about is essentially based on ideas that Prime Minister Sharon himself had raised in Washington previously, ideas that also helped shape Bush's speech regarding a solution in the Middle East. For example, the three-phase plan stipulated in the new Road Map, is originally Arik Sharon's. The Road Map, now a concrete document in the Pentagon's possession, also obligates Israel to take certain steps ... (Alex Fishman, Yedioth Ahronoth, October 18, 2002)

Teams of Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence experts will soon arrive in Jericho to train the new Palestinian security system teams. Training of workers will be part of the planned reforms in Palestinian security" (Yedioth Ahronoth, August 21, 2002).


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