The Jewish Community of Hebron, February 10, 2003
IN THE MIDDLE EAST
By David Wilder
Doomsday prophecies aren't my thing. It's always good to look at the bright side, to be optimistic, to take life one step at a time.
However, there are times when, left with no choice, reality must be faced head on. And now is one of those times. The state of Israel, led by Ariel Sharon, is on a crash course with major catastrophe. This unmitigated disaster is known as the Road Map, or in its full glorious title, The Road Map for implementation of a permanent solution for two states in the Israel-Palestinian Dispute.
Rather than mince words, let me lay out the basic elements, as they are presently known, of the 'road map.'
1. The central goal of the 'road map' is creation of a Palestinian state. This state is to be sovereign and independent, including maximum contiguous territory. Totally rejected are Ariel Sharon's preconditions, including Israeli control of borders, arms limitations, Israeli control of air space, and more.
This state will be created in two stages: Following elections in the Palestinian Authority, declaration of a state with temporary borders, by the end of 2003, that will receive international recognition and a seat in the United Nations. Permanent borders will be established after determining solutions to issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, and 'settlements.'
Here again, Ariel Sharon's stipulation of a 'long-term process' lasting for at least ten years, falls by the wayside.
2. The Road Map involves two international conferences, the first in 2003 following PA elections, with the marked goal of initiating negotiations leading to declaration of a Palestinian State with temporary borders. The second international conference is scheduled for 2004, to give final approval to a Palestinian state with temporary borders, and to initiate negotiations for a permanent agreement.
It should be noted that past Israeli governments have always avoided international conferences at almost any cost, because the deck was always stacked against us. So why now, is Ariel Sharon willing to risk such a precarious symposium?
The so-called Quartet is the instrument by which a sovereign
Palestinian state will take form. Composed of representatives
from the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United
Nations, this group has supreme decision-making control. For
a. The quartet decides when conditions have ripened for progress, taking into consideration achievements of all of the sides involved. In other words, this foreign body will decide when to recognize a Palestinian state. This bypasses Ariel Sharon's precondition that all progress be determinant on Israeli judgment, taking into account factors such as cessation of terror, collection of illegal armaments, cessation of incitement, etc. In other words, Israel's decision-making control is severely restricted, if existent at all.
b. The quartet will initiate an international observer force, which will examine Israeli-Palestinian progress. Here again it is worth noting that Ariel Sharon did not take major military actions against the PA for a year and half, in order prevent implementation of an international observer force in Yesha.
c. The Quartet will guarantee that both sides implement all obligations simultaneously.
This directly contradicts Sharon's plan, by which any Israeli implementation happens only after full implementation by the Palestinians.
For example, the Palestinian obligation to eradicate terror will be equivalent to Israeli obligations concerning settlement activity.
d. The Quartet will be directly involved in all negotiations
between the two sides, totally negating a cardinal Israeli rule
insisting upon direct negotiations between the parties involved.
e. The Quartet will be involved in all facets of a Palestinian transition, including, financial, administrative, legal, and security issues. This involvement has already begun.
f. The Quartet will be involved in decisions and negotiation concerning the 'permanent agreement,' including Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements.
Concerning settlements, Israel will be obligated to:
a. uproot all settlements formed since March, 2001. Implementation is not dependent on Palestinian cessation of terror or incitement. Rather, the obligations must be fulfilled simultaneously.
b. Israel must freeze all settlement activity, including any natural growth of Yesha communities. Implementation priority must be given to areas which threaten contiguously populated Palestinian regions, including areas around Jerusalem.
c. Towards declaration of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, Israeli must allow maximum geographic contiguity, including further measures concerning settlements, i.e., uprooting of settlements that interrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity.
Concerning Jerusalem, Israel must agree to reopen all Palestinian offices and institutions dealing with commerce, business and economy, which were closed in East Jerusalem, including, of course, the Orient House.
The goals of discussions concerning a permanent solution will seek to achieve a realistic and just solution to the problems of the refugees and the status of Jerusalem, which will take into account the political and religious stands of the two sides. In other words, the Palestinians enter into negotiations on an equal footing with Israel.
Three other interesting points:
a. Concerning security, the United States, Egypt and Jordan will be involved in revitalizing security guarantees between Israel and the Palestinians.
b. The solutions reached will take into account the program initiated by the Saudi Arabians. This program calls for a total withdrawal of Israel to the 1967, pre-Six Day War borders.
c. The road map demands an international conference to attain peace on all fronts, including the Israeli-Syria-Lebanese, disputes. In other words, not only is Yesha on the chopping block. The Golan Heights is also in jeopardy.
These are some of the elements of the Road Map delegating responsibility for almost everything that occurs in Yesha to the European Union and the United Nations. The Quartet is nothing less than a death council whose job is to speed up a step-by-step annihilation of the State of Israel.
The road map, with quartet participation cannot come into being without full Israeli approval. If Israel says no, it doesn't happen.
In other words, the Road Map is an assisted suicide pact that could have been designed by Jack Kevorkian.
With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder
(This article was prepared in conjunction with an article in Hebrew called "The Road Map: a tragedy known in advance" by Eliyakim HaEtzni, dated Feb. 5, 2003.)