The People's Road Map
Seeking a just resolution to conflict
By Jeff Halper

For the past year, Europe, the U.N., Russia and the U.S. (the Quartet) has been formulating its "Road Map" for ending the Occupation and establishing, in the words of the December draft, "an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state" by the year 2005.

Tony Blair, desperate for progress in the Middle East that will offset his support of the war against Iraq, has spoken passionately of an "even-handed" approach to the Middle East. He has prodded Bush to make several formal, if terse, statements of support for early implementation of the Road Map. And he has publicly asked us all to "hold me to it."

Coming at a time when Israel is putting the finishing touches on its 35-year campaign to render the Occupation irreversible, this seems to be an initiative that we cannot afford to sit out. It opens a window of opportunity for us that, if not seized, will put off subsequent efforts to resolve the conflict for years, with all the implications that holds for Palestinian aspirations of self-determination.

The global anti-war movement must engage actively with governments. The time has come to direct all our organizational clout at the political decision-makers in order to ensure that the Road Map truly addresses the issue of Palestinian self-determination, in a viable state, free of any trace of occupation. We must be active partners in formulating the Road Map. We must ensure that it contain specific steps and strict timelines that do not allow Israel to delay its implementation indefinitely, as in Oslo. And we must be sure that the Quartet, and not only the US, supervise and enforce the process.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Different approaches emerge -- a one-state bi-national solution, a one-state secular democratic solution, a two-state solution, a regional confederacy and others.

It is crucial that future processes of evolution in the Middle East not be closed off. The "Barak approach" of take-it-or-leave-it, of renouncing all possible developments in the future in return for accepting a "generous offer," of locking the Palestinians into a semi-viable state even if the Occupation ends, is unacceptable. The Road Map's attention to achieving a comprehensive peace in the entire region is also appropriate and crucial.

As peace and economic development take root in the region, the evolution of political and economic units that reflect changing regional realities must be allowed to occur. Our lobbying efforts should be directed at the process of getting the Road Map adopted by the international community; the process of specifying in detail (and not subject to mendacious interpretation) the mutual steps leading from phase to phase; the process of implementation.

Given the fact that the Road Map has not only received the endorsement of the Quartet but is actually an initiative of the political establishment, we should have less trouble gaining access, letting our views be known and perhaps establishing formal (or semi-formal) frameworks for ongoing co-operation.

The actual draft text of the Road Map, as it was last Dec. 20, can be viewed at www.bitterlemons.org . On the basis of that draft, I have prepared a text that highlights the various elements of the Road Map - the goals, the mechanisms and the phases -- in a way that makes comments more precise. The goals, phases and benchmarks are examined here in preparation of a Palestinian-Israeli "People's Road Map" which may also be presented -- or with comments that Palestinian and Israeli NGOs present separately.

Goals

(1) to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated settlement leading to a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005;

(2) to end the occupation;

(3) to see the emergence of an independent, democratic Palestinian state, side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors; and

(4) to address Israel's strategic goals of security and regional integration.

Mechanisms

(1) Goals and process based on terms of reference of the Madrid Conference and the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the Arab initiative proposed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as endorsed by the Arab Summit in Beirut.

(2) A performance-based plan with clear phases and benchmarks to be agreed upon (including their interpretation) in advance of the process.

(3) Supervision by the Quartet -- although the United States is bidding for a leadership role. According to the American plan, the U.S. will head the supervising mechanism of the Road Map's implementation, helped by the other members of the Quartet. (The American government recently announced that a special unit would be set up in the CIA to monitor the implementation process.)

The supervising mechanism will further include four committees: a Security Committee that will deal with reforms in the PA security apparatus, renewed security coordination and monitoring of Palestinian activity against terror, as well as the Israeli withdrawals from PA areas. A Special Operations Committee will deal with the settlement freeze, evacuation of the illegal outposts, a cessation of the incitement and the reopening of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem. A Humanitarian Committee will try to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories and address the policies behind it (such as the closure). A fourth committee will deal with reforms in the Palestinian Authority.

Phase I: October 2002-May 2003

First Stage: October-December, 2002

Quartet Requirements

  • Quartet develops detailed roadmap, in consultation with the parties, to be adopted at December Quartet/AHLC meeting.
  • Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) Ministerial launches major donor assistance effort.
  • In coordination with Quartet, implementation of U.S. rebuilding, training and resumed security cooperation plan in collaboration with outside oversight board. (U.S. -Egypt-Jordan).

Palestinian Requirements

  • Appointment of new Palestinian cabinet, establishment of empowered Prime Minister, including any necessary Palestinian legal reforms for this purpose.
  • PLC appoints Commission charged with drafting of Palestinian constitution for Palestinian statehood.
  • PA establishes independent Election Commission. PLC reviews and revises election law.
  • Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate end to the armed Intifada and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel. [Israel does not consider this enough, citing Bush's statement that "The success of the plan is predicated on the basic assumption that a pre-condition for any progress is cessation of violence, terrorism, and incitement.."]
  • Palestinian security organizations are consolidated into three services reporting to an empowered Interior Minister.

Israeli Requirements

  • Government of Israel (GoI) facilitates travel of Palestinian officials for PLC sessions, internationally supervised security retraining, and other PA business without restriction.
  • GoI implements recommendations of the Bertini report to improve humanitarian conditions, including lifting curfews and easing movement between Palestinian areas.
  • GoI ends actions undermining trust, including attacks in civilian areas, and confiscation/demolition of Palestinian homes/property, deportations, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction.
  • GoI immediately resumes monthly revenue clearance process in accordance with agreed transparency monitoring mechanism. GoI transfers all arrears of withheld revenues to Palestinian Ministry of Finance by end of December 2002, according to specific timeline.
  • GoI dismantles settlement outposts erected since establishment of the present Israeli government and in contravention of current Israeli government guidelines.

Palestinian-Israeli Requirements

  • Restructured/retrained Palestinian security forces and IDF counterparts begin phased resumption of security cooperation and other undertakings as agreed in the Tenet work plan, including regular senior-level meetings, with the participation of U.S. security officials.

Requirements of Arab States

  • Arab states move decisively to cut off public/private funding of extremist groups, channel financial support for Palestinians through Palestinian Ministry of Finance.

Personal notes:

* About references to an "empowered" prime minister, "free and fair" elections, etc., I still fail to understand these things can happen when the occupation continues in the form of settlements on Palestinian land. Any "power" going from Yasser Arafat to Abu Mazen is symbolic only, as Arafat himself is devoid of power, effectively trapped for almost 10 years by an occupation/settlement process which has been fortified by Oslo. Free and fair elections, when certain political groups are excluded by Israeli categorisation of them as "terrorist" groups or when Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands continue, can only be hollow. Again, the performance of the Palestinians can only be judged against the backdrop of the limitations placed on them by long years of outside forces.

* If the Palestinians are responsible for rounding up weapons and disarming militant groups, should not Israel undertake to do the same with the settlers in the occupied territories?

* Some of the things that are put at the front - elections, prime minister, etc - are those which least affect Palestinian daily lives and would do the least to counter the embedded anger, frustration and cynicism. The things that cause the most frustration and deprivation -- closure of Jerusalem, the diversion of water from villages to settlements, inability
to get to jobs, family, places of worship, hospitals -- must be included in the first phase of Israeli requirements, or else people will only get more cynical as they see Palestinian officials benefiting from free movement and their own daily lives remaining desperate.

Phase I: Second Stage: Jan.-May 03

Goals: For the next five months: 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 co-operation, according to the Tenet work plan. A settlement freeze is announced, according to the Mitchell plan.

Quartet Requirements

  • Quartet monitoring mechanism established.

Palestinian Requirements

  • Continued Palestinian political reform to ensure powers of PLC, Prime Minister, and Cabinet.
  • Independent Commission circulates draft Palestinian constitution, based on strong parliamentary democracy, for public comment/debate.
  • Devolution of power to local authorities through revised Municipalities Law.
  • Palestinian performance on agreed judicial, administrative, and economic benchmarks, as determined by Task Force.
  • Constitution drafting Commission proposes draft document for submission after elections to new PLC for approval.
  • Palestinians hold free, open, and fair elections for PLC.
  • In the revised draft the Palestinians are required to begin focused efforts to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, implement security cooperation, collect illegal weapons and disarm militant groups in the first stage of the program.

Israeli Requirements

As comprehensive security performance moves forward, IDF withdraws progressively from areas occupied since 28 Sep.00. Withdrawal to be completed before holding of Palestinian elections. Palestinian security forces redeploy to areas vacated by IDF.
ú GoI facilitates Task Force election assistance, registration of voters, movement of candidates and voting officials.
ú GoI reopens East Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian economic institutions in East Jerusalem.
ú GoI freezes all settlement activity consistent with the Mitchell report, including natural growth of settlements. In the revised draft Israel is required to make a top priority out of freezing projects that disrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity, including in the Jerusalem area.

Palestinian-Israeli Requirements

  • Palestinians and Israelis conclude a new security agreement building upon Tenet work plan, including an effective security mechanism and an end to violence, terrorism, and incitement implemented through a restructured and effective Palestinian security service.

Requirements of Arab States

  • Regional support: Upon completion of security steps and IDF withdrawal to September 28, 2000 positions, Egypt and Jordan return ambassadors to Israel.

Phase II: June 2003-Dec. 2003

Goal: 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.)

According to the December draft, "Progress into Phase II will be based upon the consensus judgment of the Quartet of whether conditions areappropriate to proceed, taking into account performance of both parties."

That judgement is facilitated by establishment of a permanent monitoring mechanism on the ground.

  • Phase II starts after Palestinian elections and ends with possible creation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders by end of 2003.

Quartet Requirements

  • International Conference: Convened by the Quartet, in agreement with the parties, immediately after the successful conclusion of Palestinian elections to support Palestinian economic recovery and launch negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the possibility of a state with provisional borders. Such a meeting would be inclusive, based on the goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace (including between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon), and based on the principles described in the preamble to this document.
  • Conclusion of transitional understanding and creation of state with provisional borders by end of 2003. Enhanced international role in monitoring transition.

Palestinian Requirements

  • Newly elected PLC finalizes and approves new constitution for democratic, independent Palestinian state.
  • Continued implementation of security cooperation, complete collection of illegal weapons, disarm militant groups, according to Phase I security agreement.

Israeli Requirements

  • Further action on settlements simultaneous with establishment of Palestinian state with provisional borders.

Joint Palestinian-Israeli Requirements

  • Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at creation of a state with provisional borders. Implementation of prior agreements, to enhance maximum territorial contiguity.
  • Conclusion of transitional understanding and creation of state with provisional borders by end of 2003.

Requirements of Arab States

  • Other pre-Intifada Arab links to Israel restored (trade offices, etc.).
  • Revival of multilateral talks (regional water, environmental, economic development, refugee, arms control issues).

* In the December draft, progress to Phase II is based solely upon the judgment of the Quartet, facilitated by establishment of a permanent monitoring mechanism on the ground. Israel objects to this: "We believe that the U.S. has a dominant and leading role in this process and accordingly the supervision mechanism should be led by the Americans. Furthermore, we must agree on the nature of the supervision mechanism. It is essential that it include clear and specific subjects, that the supervision mandate be limited in time and that the members will be experts only. The Quartet may assist the process by supporting the American effort, but it cannot judge on issues such as determining goals for progress, judging on the transition from one phase to the next or addressing security issues."

In other words, the Quartet is neutralized, the U.S. (and Israel) doing the monitoring, supervision and deciding when "performance" has been met and the next phase obtainable.
In the revised 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 creation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders during this transitional phase of six months may be seen as strengthening the political position of the Palestinians in negotiations by according them the status of a state partner. It is also a step fraught with perils. The Road Map only talks of a "possible" Palestinian state, thus leaving a large loophole to by-pass or neutralize the empowering effects of statehood.

Raising expectations in this way only to have them potentially dashed may destroy Palestinian confidence in the Road Map initiative. Of greatest danger is the possibility that such a transitional state may get stuck in the middle of the process. Israel, after all, has spoken of a long-term interim agreement that allows the Occupation to continue while giving the Palestinians certain "attributes of sovereignty."

Since the transitional Phase II is only six months long, thought should be given to passing over this stage.

Phase III: 2004-2005 (Statehood)

Goals: 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.

  • Progress into Phase III, based on judgment of Quartet, taking into account actions of all parties and Quartet monitoring.

Quartet Requirements

  • Second International Conference: Convened by the Quartet, with agreement of the parties, at beginning of 2004 to endorse agreement reached on state with provisional borders and to launch negotiations between Israel and Palestine toward a final, permanent status resolution in 2005, including on borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; and, to support progress toward a comprehensive Middle East settlement between Israel and Lebanon and Syria, to be achieved as soon as possible.

Palestinian Requirements

  • Continued comprehensive, effective progress on the reform agenda laid out by the Task Force in preparation for final status agreement.

Israeli Requirements (none)

Joint Palestinian-Israeli Requirements

  • Continued sustained, effective security cooperation based on security agreements reached by end of Phase I and other prior agreements.
  • 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."

Requirements of Arab States

  • Arab state acceptance of normal relations with Israel and security for all the states of the region, consistent with Beirut Arab Summit initiative.

Your comments/suggestions are welcome and will be forwarded to Professor Halpern who lives in Jerusalem where he is Coordinator of the Committee Against House Demolition. His proposal has been accepted and is being promoted by an international lobbying campaign. Visit the site: http://www.superaje.com/~marsin/cps.html

 


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