New road map: Israel forfeits physical and diplomatic right to self defense.

[IMRA: Under the road map, Israel immediately forfeits its right to defend itself either physically by military operations or in the world court of public opinion. The Government of Israel would cease to publish or distribute information that puts the Palestinian Authority in an unfavorable light.

Under the road map, Israel also forfeits its right to determine that the Palestinians have failed to honor their obligations and instead relies on the judgement of the "Quartet" with the US having veto rights. Over the course of Oslo the United States has consistently taken the position that for the sake of "progress" in the "peace process" it is necessary for the United States to declare that the Palestinians have complied come-what-may.

Muzzling Israel is a critical element of the revised plan since it cripples Israel's ability to even attempt to bring public and congressional pressure to bear on the U.S. government not to give the Palestinians an automatic pass.]

Ha'aretz, 21 November 2002


By Aluf Benn

The latest version of the internationally sponsored "road map" to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is tougher in the demands it makes on both sides than the original draft given to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington last month.

According to the new draft, which reached Jerusalem this week from unofficial sources after it was leaked to the Arab press, the Israeli leadership will be required to publish a declaration expressing its commitment to "the two-state vision," and the establishment of an "independent, viable, sovereign" Palestinian state that will live in peace and security beside Israel.

The Israeli declaration, says the new draft, will also call for "an immediate end to violence against Palestinians anywhere," and an end to "actions undermining trust" - expulsions, harm to civilians, and destruction of Palestinian property. All official Israeli institutions will be required to "cease incitement against Palestinians."

The Israeli declaration - not mentioned in the original draft of the road map - is meant to be issued simultaneously with a Palestinian declaration about Israel's right to exist and an immediate, unconditional end to the armed intifada and all violent activity against Israelis, everywhere.

The new draft also intensifies the demand for a settlement freeze, including a freeze on settlement expansion resulting from natural growth. Now Israel is required to make a top priority out of freezing projects that disrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity, including in the Jerusalem area. The issue of timing of the settlement freeze remains in dispute, and has yet to be decided. According to one approach, the freeze would only come after a general cease-fire.

The authors of the draft accepted some of Israel's demands. They somewhat softened the reference to the Saudi Arabian peace initiative, which had angered Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Palestinians are now required to begin focused efforts to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the first stage of the program. The closed Palestinian institutions will be reopened, but only in accordance with agreements between the sides.

The new draft rejects Israel's opposition to an international Quartet (the U.S., UN, EU and Russia) monitoring team, which will determine whether the conditions have ripened sufficiently to move to the next stage in the program. But in the new draft, the Quartet's decisions must be unanimous, and the U.S. can apply a veto and block pressure from its partners who may want to accelerate the implementation of the plan.

The new draft was completed on November 14, after the administration received comments from the parties and after discussions held in Jerusalem by Quartet representatives. The administration did not give the draft to Israel and it reached Jerusalem through other sources, after it was leaked to the Arab press.

American officials sent a message to Israel that the latest draft is an interim version that has not yet received the White House's blessings. They said the final version will be brought to the Quartet foreign ministers on December 20, after first receiving U.S. administration approval. The original draft was personally vetted by President George W. Bush.

The Prime Minister's Office held a preliminary discussion of the latest draft yesterday and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to discuss it in his ministry today. Meanwhile, Housing Ministry Natan Sharansky met yesterday in Washington with Vice President Richard Cheney and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, telling them it would be difficult to conduct a serious discussion of the road map during the current election campaign.

Furthermore, said Sharansky, while there are articles that match Bush's June 24 speech, "there are also a lot of contradictions, and things to discuss. The timetable is very problematic." He told reporters that in any case there was no point in discussing it as long as the "Palestinian dictator" - a reference to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat - remains in office. He also told Cheney and Armitage that he did not understand why the draft reached Israel through an Arab newspaper.

The new draft sticks to the main elements of the original version. The Palestinians are required to undertake comprehensive reforms, creating a parliamentary democracy with a strong government and a prime minister's position. The plan calls for the appointment of a temporary prime minister in the initial stages. A proposal to sign a new security compact between the sides has been dropped. There are also some changes in the division into stages, but the timetable remains the same:

* From now to May 2003: An end to terror and violence, normalization of Palestinian life and establishment of Palestinian institutions. Israel withdraws from the PA areas, and the status quo from before the intifada is restored, in accordance with progress in the security cooperation, according to the Tenet work plan. A settlement freeze is announced, according to the Mitchell plan.

* June 2003-December 2003: A transition phase, for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state inside temporary borders according to a new constitution. The Quartet will convene an international conference, in consultation with the parties (in the early draft it required their consent), to be followed by the start of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue about the establishment of the interim state. Still under discussion is to what extent the Quartet will act to win the new Palestinian state acceptance in the UN.

* 2004-2005: A permanent arrangement. The new draft says the purpose of the agreement is an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In early 2004, a second international conference is convened, to welcome the new state with its temporary borders and to formally launch the negotiations for a final status agreement.

The new draft also has a special section on Jerusalem, not included in the original. It says that a negotiated settlement of Jerusalem's status will take into account "the political and religious concerns of both sides and will protect the religious interests of Jews, Christians and Muslims throughout the world."


IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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