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ADL Analysis:
Roadmap to Mideast Peace? Opportunities and Concerns
Posted: May 2, 2003

On April 30, the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russian Federation presented the "Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly confirmed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. If implemented seriously and sincerely, the Roadmap provides a new opportunity to end the two-and-a-half years of Palestinian terrorism and violence and to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and a final and comprehensive peace agreement as envisioned by U.S. President George W. Bush in his speech last June 24.

At the same time, the Roadmap contains in its approach some fundamental flaws, erroneous assertions and unanswered questions. There is the possibility that some of these concerns may be met by changes in the document over the next few weeks.

Below are the highlights of the potential opportunities and potential pitfalls of the Quartet Roadmap:

Potential Opportunities:

  • If undertaken seriously, the Roadmap offers a concrete formulation for Israel-Palestinian peace, implementing the President's vision articulated in his speech of June 24, 2002 of "two states, living side by side in peace in security." The three-phase plan puts into action the ending of Palestinian terrorism and the terrorism infrastructure; the amelioration of quality of life conditions for Palestinians; the halt on new settlement construction by Israel; the development of a viable and democratic Palestinian Authority government structure; the creation of an interim Palestinian state and the eventual conclusion of a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

  • The Roadmap calls for serious and sustained Palestinian action to end terrorism against Israelis. The Palestinians are obligated to declare an end to terrorism, and "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere," and for the Palestinian Authority to begin "sustained, targeted and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure (including) commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

  • In construction, the Roadmap is performance based. Thus, unless the Palestinians meet their obligations on cracking down on terrorism there will be no moving to the next phase and greater Palestinian autonomy. This construction attempts to correct one of the key failures of the Oslo Process, whereby violations in upholding signed agreements, particularly in the security realm, were often swept under the carpet and not seriously dealt with amidst the pressures to move the peace process forward.

Potential Concerns:
  • Who is going to determine performance? The Roadmap states that progress is dependent on the "consensus judgment of Quartet, and taking into account actions of both parties and Quartet monitoring." In an address to the Anti-Defamation League on April 29, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns said that the U.S. would lead the peace effort in concert with the Quartet, stating, "There's no substitute here for very strong American leadership. It is going to have to be a very strong American-led effort." However, if this is indeed a "consensus" process, history demonstrates that three-quarters of the Quartet - the U.N., E.U. and Russia - are far more vigorous in highlighting Israeli violations than Palestinian infringements. There is a concern that these entities and states may justify or underplay Palestinian violations of their obligations and in turn pressure Israel to implement steps, such as redeployment from territories, that will endanger its security when the conditions are clearly not in place.

  • The Roadmap text implies equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians in areas of violence and incitement. At the beginning of Phase I, Palestinians are obligated to issues a statement calling for the end to "...armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." The Israelis are obligated to issue a statement "calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israelis institutions end incitement against Palestinians." This text implies that Israeli defensive military action against terrorists is equivalent to Palestinian acts of terrorism against civilians. Moreover, while there is much documented on Palestinian anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, there is no evidence of Israeli incitement being a problem.

  • The Roadmap implies that ending the "Israeli occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (assuming Palestinian terrorism is under control) is the key to Israeli-Palestinian peace. This conceptual approach is simplistic and flawed. Ignored is the reality that since 1948 the conflict has been about the Arab and Palestinian refusal to truly accept Israel's right to exist. Indeed, in the past decade significant movement on ending the occupation (notably in the offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000), was rejected by the Palestinian leadership. Many Israelis and supporters of Israel were left concluding that the Palestinian aspiration was not an independent state in these territories existing alongside Israel, but rather a goal of a Palestinian state replacing Israel. The Roadmap plays lip service to this concern by obligating the Palestinians to issues as statement "reiterating Israeli right to exist in peace and security." However, in focusing primarily on ending the "occupation" as a measure of ending the conflict, and not paying attention to ultimate Palestinian goals and intentions, there is a risk of Israel giving up the tangible (land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) for the intangible (assurances of intentions to live alongside Israel in peace), which may be insincere and hollow.

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