new US "road map" for peace in the Middle
East presented by US Assistant Secretary of State
William J. Burns is no more than a placebo for consumption
by both Palestinians and the world community in response
to their pressuring Israel for positive movement toward
immediately ending the occupation of the West Bank,
Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It is also perhaps
an attempt to somehow justify Bush's planned road
trip to/through Iraq.
often prescribe placebos to patients that they feel
are suffering from ailments that are not necessarily
physiological, hoping that the patient will think
that the medicine contains some active ingredient
that will cure their ailments. Such medication may
have been believed successful during the Oslo Peace
Accords, but the latest 25-months of bloodletting
has done additional physical damage to Palestinian
rights, and thus, any treatment must be real and immediate.
draft details of the new "road map" that
have been made public are so bizarre that it is a
wonder that it is being presented at all. The US plan
makes no mention of dismantling the illegal settlements
(it only speaks of recently established "outposts"),
and the plan will leave in place three Palestinian
West Bank cantons or Bantustans (aside from the Gaza
Strip) surrounded by Israeli troops, with full Israeli
control of the roads and highways.
fact there is nothing new about the "road map"
(if it can even be called that). It is essentially
the revival, with several insignificant changes, of
the failed Tenet, Zinni and Mitchell Plans. The issue
of Jerusalem and any discussion of the right of return
of Palestinian refugees is left for later stages.
The plan gives more attention to what Palestinians
must "reiterate" and how Palestinians must
re-elect and restructure their internal political
life than it does to the gross and blatant violations
Israel has been perpetrating on a daily basis for
over 35 years now. The "road map" is a step
backward to the pre Madrid/Oslo period. It pretends
that nothing has happened in the past 10 years, let
alone the last two years.
"road map" reduces the just Palestinian
struggle for self-determination and independence to
an item whose outcome is to be decided by a self-proclaimed
set of mediators known as the "Quartet"
-- the United Nations, the United States, the European
Union and Russia. The "road map" ignores
the fact that the resolution of the Palestinian issue
is deeply embedded in international law and human
rights covenants that already prescribe a clear remedy
to the conflict - the prompt ending of the Israeli
military occupation. Does the US believe that "might
is right" and that after Israel has now battered
the Palestinians for 24 consecutive months, the Palestinians
will simply accept less than what is rightly due to
them? Can the US be serious in demanding Palestinian
Legislative Council elections while Israel has imprisoned
members of that council?
principles of a possible agreement between Israelis
and Palestinians have already been sketched out in
numerous UN resolutions (194, 242, 338, and 1397,
among others). These resolutions continue to enjoy
the full support of the world at large, including
the historic official policies of the US and UK. Such
an internationally legitimate approach should remain
the basis, with possibly some mutually agreed upon
minor changes, for any initiative in the area, or
rather any initiative with a chance for success. The
Israeli retreat to the 1967 borders, the unqualified
dismantling of illegal settlements (which apply to
all settlements in the Gaza Strip and all settlements
East of the 1967 Green Line in the West Bank), honest
and creative discussion of the right of return, and
the relinquishing control over East Jerusalem to the
Palestinian Authority or the defacto State of Palestine.
These are issues that must be dealt with at the first
stage, and not in the form of a "road map"
that ignores the basic issues.
is needed is a shot of legitimate political adrenaline,
not a warmed over "road map" that lacks
a destination and thus has little chance of success.
Placebos, Mr. Bush and Mr. Burns, would work in this
case only if the patients were imagining they have
been under military occupation for 35 years. One would
have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not recognize this
"road map", for what is: a pathetic attempt
to pull the wool over the eyes of the international
Bush and Mr. Burns, your strategic alley in the Middle
East has become your strategic liability. It is also
terrorizing an entire civilian population. The time
has come to abruptly end the occupation and not invest
more taxpayer dollars traveling on a road to nowhere.
Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living
in the besieged Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the
West Bank and can be reached at email@example.com.
Dr. Michael Dahan is an Israeli-American political
scientist living in Jerusalem and can be reached at
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