The Palestinians are not following the road map
Israel Asper, O.C., O.M., Q.C.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
As you read, listen to, or watch today's media, you would think the road map is all about Israel refusing to free captured terrorist prisoners; you would think it was about Israel building a security fence to keep out Arab terrorists; you would think it is about Israel being forced to let Palestinian workers, terrorists amongst them, come back in to work in Israel; you would think it was about demanding that Israel make "confidence-building" gestures to support Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, for which there is no quid pro quo, quite unilaterally, so that Abbas will be able to deliver eventually on his promises.
The road map is about none of these matters. In fact, none of them are even part of the road map. They are merely red herrings dragged across the picture by the Palestinians to try and distract the world from the fact they are not carrying out their commitments that the road map actually provides, and to which they say they've agreed.
So, what does the road map say?
The road map is divided into three phases, the second being contingent on the first being completed, and the third being contingent on the second being completed. So, each one is pivotal.
Phase I consists of the following:
1. U.S. President George Bush's speech of June 24, 2002, was adopted as the cornerstone philosophy.
2. The Palestinians are to immediately implement an unconditional cessation of violence.
3. The Palestinians are to immediately end the incitement to hatred and the celebration of homicide bombers.
4. The Palestinians will draft a new constitution providing for free, fair and democratic elections and government.
5. Israel is to take steps to normalize Palestinian life.
6. Israel will withdraw from Palestinian areas occupied after Sept. 28, 2000 as and when security is provided by Palestinians.
7. Israel issues an unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to a two-state vision for Palestine.
8. The Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis everywhere. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and the consolidation of security authority, under officers who are free of association with terror and corruption.
9. The Arab states are to cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror. And, all donations to the Palestinian Authority be properly accounted for and used for proper purposes.
10. Israel will dismantle unauthorized settlements and freeze all settlement activity.
11. Israel agrees to take measures to improve the humanitarian situation, lifting curfews, removing check-points and easing restrictions on movement.
There are many other collateral steps required in Phase I, but the foregoing are key. Please note there is no language which could conceivably expand the meaning to include the release of prisoners; the restriction on building of a security fence; or releasing Yasser Arafat to renew his world travelling show.
Although I doubt that we will get to Phases II and III, let's take a look at what they provide: Phase II, the beginnings of the Palestinian state, is said to only begin when the Palestinian leadership has acted decisively against terror, instituted democracy, held free elections and reformed civil institutions and security structures. It will also only proceed when the Quartet decides it should proceed, based on the performance of each of the two parties in Phase I.
In Phase II, provisional boundaries for the Palestinian state would be established and when all the other democratization tests have been met, there will be an international conference of all the countries in the region, presumably including all the Arab states which are still officially at war with Israel. It is at this stage that borders, the issue of Jerusalem, the refugees issue, settlements, and a comprehensive peace treaty amongst all the countries in the region would be resolved and normal relations with Israel established with all the Arab states.
Phase III calls for a final international conference to tie up all the loose ends.
To the extent that the road map seeks bringing an end to killing and an end to the incitement to terror and hatred, all people of goodwill will hope for its success. It is entirely a matter for political debate as to whether or not Israel has agreed to pay too high a price, even if it receives delivery of the road map's promises that the Palestinians and the Quartet have made. This is a matter of political debate in Israel, not here. But it is certainly a matter of legitimate comment by supporters of Israel, both Jewish and Christian, as to whether or not this process will, both in the short term and in the long term, yield the promised results.
My pessimism arises from the current stumbling start down the roadway. Firstly, the road map is premised on a "regime change" in the governance of the Palestinians. That simply has not happened. Arafat, the master terrorist, and the thief of billions of dollars meant for the benefit of his own subjugated people, still runs the show. Moreover, it was just admitted last week by a Palestinian minister, that he is funding an affiliated terrorist organization, the al-Aqsa Brigades, all of which is prohibited in the road map.
Arafat still controls 60% of the security forces in the regime, and has demanded and been allowed full control of negotiations with the Israelis. Abbas constantly confirms that Arafat is the boss, and while they may argue from time to time, Arafat has the last word. Arafat continues to make speeches extolling heroism of the homicide bombers addressing Palestinian audiences in Arabic. This is regime change? This is a renunciation of terrorism? This is an end to incitement?
As for his token replacement, Mahmoud Abbas, he is a known Holocaust-denier and as Arafat's long-serving deputy, clearly has been linked to terrorism, including the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games.
And in violation of the road map, official Israeli and unofficial U.S. sources have confirmed that the Saudis are still funding terrorist activities, as is Arafat himself, not to mention Syria and Iran.
Notwithstanding that the road map has been in effect for 90 days, Egypt and Jordan have still not returned their ambassadors to Israel, and even when they do, kicking and screaming, it is hardly an encouraging signal to the Israelis.
Clearly the road map is not going well. Instead of the entire Palestinian community denouncing terrorism and laying down arms, Abbas has been able only to produce the "hudna." Hudna does not mean "armistice." Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa announced an interim ceasefire, a hudna, which translates from the Arabic, as merely an official temporary halt, but as we've seen, not a full stop to the terrorism.
A ceasefire with these organizations isn't worth the wind it is blown into, as history has shown. There have been 10 ceasefires during Oslo, which the Palestinians unilaterally broke, and six which suffered the same fate since the intifada began. Indeed, in the road map ceasefire announcements themselves, the terrorist organizations have made it conditional on the release of all Israeli captured prisoners of the war. That is simply bizarre. Releasing prisoners, in war time, only occurs after final peace treaties are signed, not when belligerents announce a war stoppage with the unilateral right to recommence at any time.
It is widely understood that Abbas was only able to get these token temporary ceasefire gestures by using the "phase" argument with the terrorist leaders, namely, that if they stopped shooting for a while, Palestinians will get more and maybe even their own state, after which, the terrorists will be free to strike again from secure and sovereign boundaries.
And, notwithstanding the alleged ceasefire, the terrorism continues daily, with token abatement only. In the first month following the tabling of the road map, there were 323 terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, an average of 12 per day. These include homicide bombings, penetration of Israeli towns by gunmen, roadside shootings, grenade and anti-tank missile attacks, mortar shellings, rocket attacks, assaults and stabbings. This is not to mention the Hezbollah arms boat intercepted en route to Gaza. Even with the hudna, terrorist attacks are still a routine experience.
And in an absolute abject rejection of the cornerstone principle of the road map, to which he said he agreed, Abbas has refused to dismantle the terrorist organizations. Last week in Cairo he said "cracking down on Hamas, Jihad, and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all." He went on to remind his audience that if he were to attempt to dismantle and destroy and disarm the extremists, it would lead to a Palestine civil war.
And, yes, that is probably what it will take, rather than forcing the Israelis to do the job for them. The Palestinian Authority, under the hallucinogenic naivetÃ© of Israel's then leaders, who are the authors of the Oslo fiasco/disaster, was permitted to arm 30,000 Palestinians with Israeli ordinance in order to force Palestinian terrorists to keep the peace. A cruel hoax. Those guns were turned on the Israelis, and those Palestinian policemen became the homicide bombers and terrorists.