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The Roadmap: Genuine Hope or Clever Ploy?
Commentary and Annexe

June   |   2003   |   Subject  Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

On the occasion of the presentation of the Quartet’s roadmap to the Israeli and Palestinian governments, EU Commission President Romano Prodi stated, ‘I welcome the presentation of the Quartet roadmap to the parties as a means to re-launch the Peace Process, and an important stabilising factor for the entire region. The roadmap offers the best chance of achieving the vision of a two-state solution set out by President Bush last summer.’

EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten also added, ‘It is in the interest of both parties to start making rapid progress to implement the provisions of the roadmap with the support of the international community. Too much blood has been shed: it is imperative to re-energise the quest for peace without further delay. The Commission looks forward to working with the Quartet partners in support of the implementation of the roadmap.’

The roadmap, today a source of much renewed hope for peace, was designed almost a year ago by representatives from the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the USA. Divided into three phases, its operational process is meant to come to a conclusion by June2005 . The beginning of each phase is conditional upon the completion of the previous one. So let me summarise the three inter-faceted phases and requirements for this process.

Phase1 : Ending terror and violence, normalising Palestinian life and building Palestinian institutions

Palestinians put a halt to all violence, including incitement to violence, against Israel. Israel will in turn take all necessary steps to help normalise life for Palestinians, including withdrawal from areas re-occupied since September 2000 and the cessation of punitive actions against Palestinians. Israel will also dismantle outposts built since March 2001 and freeze all settlement growth. The Palestinians will undertake political reform. Both sides will issue unequivocal statements guaranteeing the right of the other to statehood.

Phase2 : Transition

An international conference, almost Madrid-like, will launch peace negotiations between Israel and Syria and Lebanon. That will trigger Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and set the borders for a future sovereign Palestinian state.

Phase3 : Permanent status agreement and end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

A second international conference will be convened to endorse agreements reached on a Palestinian State, as well as to launch final status agreements on issues such as Jerusalem, settlements and refugees. The final status agreement will trigger into existence an independent Palestinian state and an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

This is a brief synopsis of the ‘roadmap’, and the fuller text - as published by the European Commission - is attached as an annexe to this commentary. So could this roadmap produce in practice any real and palpable change on the ground?

Having worked quite closely with the Oslo-led political process in Jerusalem for almost six years, I opted nonetheless in the last two years to engage with Israelis and Palestinians from some distance. In so doing, I have concluded that there is little chance for the latest peace initiative to succeed if the unrelenting violence between Israelis and Palestinians continues to dictate, or worse subvert, their respective geo-political and strategic choices. For too long, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has cited suicidal extremist attacks as a total bar to political discourse with the Palestinian majority. For too long, he has also refused to accept any parallels with Israeli violence against Palestinians. Conversely, Chairman Yasser Arafat has also failed to curb the militants linked to the Fatah faction, let alone to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In fact, by squandering the chance for peace at Taba in 2001 for reasons to do largely with internal politics, both parties lost the political initiative and condemned their peoples to another two years of painful misery.

The overall challenge facing both Palestine's newly-appointed Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (or Abu Mazen), and his recently re-elected counterpart Ariel Sharon (or Arik), is to have the boldness of vision to prevent the failures of the past from overshadowing the hopes for the future. After all, the ultimate aim is shared, peaceful co-existence, based on a secure, recognised Israel side-by-side with a viable, independent Palestine. This means doing everything possible to end all violence and an understanding, most importantly by Israel, that a permanent cessation of hostilities by all groups and individuals is not achievable or feasible overnight. Progress towards a lasting settlement for the many cannot simply be held hostage to the random acts of destruction of the obdurate few. Unless this unnerving reality is taken on board, Israelis and Palestinians could well stay doomed to endless episodes of acrimony, hatred, fighting and killing.

Mahmoud Abbas has already declared himself a foe to all forms of terrorism and violent resistance. He heads a cabinet that is a product of the very internal reform processes exacted by Israel and the USA. He won his important battle with Chairman Arafat over who should control security within the Palestinian territories. He also enjoys the strong support of the Quartet sponsors of the roadmap. Mr Sharon has also claimed readiness to deal with him.

While this may amount to an auspicious start, Mr Abbas' political problems are daunting let alone taxing. They include the injured pride and political alienation of Chairman Arafat who has been sidelined somewhat, a perception by some members within the Palestinian Legislative Council that Mr Abbas is a US puppet, and his consequential lack of a broadband populist following within Palestine. Another, potentially more serious difficulty, centres on doubts that he has the clout to defuse the bombs. Much will depend on whether Mr Abbas displays the requisite skills to initiate an internal reconciliation process with the political wings of Hamas and rejectionist groups, and thereby progressively disarm, politically as much as militarily, the men of violence and their younger acolytes. In this, he deserves - let alone needs - the support and restraint of a frighteningly emasculated and incompetent Arab world. And much more vitally, he needs the unfettered support of the EU and the USA as prime movers and shakers behind this irenic roadmap.

Sadly, PM Mahmoud Abbas could well prove to be a modern-day Solomon but still fail in his attempts to jumpstart the peace process! His success depends largely on whether PM Sharon is prepared to make a number of ‘painful concessions’ in concrete, practical and parallel terms. This translates into an Israeli implementation of the terms of the roadmap - starting with its withdrawal from occupied Palestinian lands, halting the construction of illegal settlements and accepting permanent and viable Palestinian borders. But PM Sharon might well fudge and prevaricate - and so it is quintessential that the US put its weight behind this document in terms of monitoring and enforcing all its terms.

As is often the case in the Middle East, progress boils down to a matter of will - perhaps a battle of wills. However, in all this, it should not be forgotten that the underlying essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of occupation. Indeed, the unending occupation of Palestinian territories from June 1967 to date, with the concomitant destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and the misery it has visited upon a long-suffering populace, have together generated a brand of violence that is terrorist in nature but desperate in perspective. Indeed, by removing the occupation, the cancerous growth of terrorism would die down as well. This is a formula that Israel and the USA have been reluctant to take on board ever since the horrendous terror of 11 September2001 . As Israeli politician Yossi Beilin admitted only last week in a television interview, Palestinians must be provided with the incentive to work for peace in order to lift themselves from the hollow hopelessness of their stateless despair. That incentive does not come in the shape of a self-help ‘DIY’ kit they could simply buy for themselves! Nor is it something that even the UN, the EU or Russia can offer them either! It is something that Israel alone can give Palestinians by withdrawing from occupied territories and providing Palestinians with their legal sovereignty. And again, this is where a post-Iraq America can flex its moral muscles.

Israelis are suffering from murderous and indiscriminate violence, and there is no equivocation in my mind that all such terrorism should cease forthwith. It is against every fibre of my religious, legal, moral and humanistic values. However, Palestinians are suffering from ceaseless structural, physical, political and psychological violence too! The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported only last week that the number of Palestinian men and women made homeless since September 2000 by Israel’s campaign of demolishing houses stood at12 , 737on 30 April2003 ! In the meantime, the Palestinian GNP has dropped by51 %, whilst unemployment in Gaza has risen to67 % and to48 % in the West Bank. In fact,75 % of the Palestinian population lives under the poverty line (of less than US$ 2per day). Daily domestic losses are estimated between US$6-8. 6million. Schools and hospitals are not running properly. Is it any wonder that Palestinians are at their wits’ end? What would a Londoner, Muscovite, New Yorker, Finn, Czech or Thai do under the duress of similar circumstances? Would such men or women simply sit down yoga-like and preach peace, love and harmony? Or could their baser instincts rebel against their better judgements?

Not so long ago, in his Christmas Message2002 , HB Michel Sabbah, Latin-rite Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, appealed to the world to put an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. He stated that it was not possible ‘to ask for security on one side, while the other is being oppressed, to have one people occupying when the other is under occupation.’ Prophetic words indeed, but the truth is that the balance of power in the Middle East tilts hugely in Israel’s favour, and it still remains a moot point whether the US Administration would actually deliver on its post-Iraq pledge for true peace in the region. President Bush seems to lack his predecessor's stamina, and the neo-conservatives remain implacably - almost genetically let alone viscerally - opposed to any real pressure against Israel. I suppose time alone might prove or disprove the legacy of the roadmap. Yet, time is a luxury the Middle East can ill afford today!

The roadmap is not a peace treaty. It is merely a ‘map’ that might point the way toward a ‘road’ leading to a just and secure peace predicated upon International law, UNSC Resolutions and the jurisprudence of international legality. Could it wake global conscience from its collective slumber, and save Palestinians and Israelis from their own inbred fears? In fact, would the roadmap represent genuine hope … or prove simply to be another clever ploy?

hbv-H @ 12 May2003


A Performance-based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by the Quartet (European Union, United States, the Russian Federation and the United Nations)

The following is a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by2005 , as presented in President Bush’s speech of 24 June, and welcomed by the EU, Russia and the UN in the 16 July and 17 September Quartet Ministerial statements.

A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practising democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel's readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.

The Quartet will assist and facilitate implementation of the plan, starting in Phase I, including direct discussions between the parties as required. The plan establishes a realistic timeline for implementation. However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below. Should the parties perform their obligations rapidly, progress within and through the phases may come sooner than indicated in the plan. Non-compliance with obligations will impede progress.

A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. The settlement will resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs242 , 338 and1397 , agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbour living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement.

This initiative is a vital element of international efforts to promote a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.

The Quartet will meet regularly at senior levels to evaluate the parties' performance on implementation of the plan. In each phase, the parties are expected to perform their obligations in parallel, unless otherwise indicated.



In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security co-operation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalise Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September28 , 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and co-operation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.


Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.

Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.


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 anywhere.

Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

GOI takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attacks on civilians; confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet Work Plan.

Relying on existing mechanisms and on-the-ground resources, Quartet representatives begin informal monitoring and consult with the parties on establishment of a formal monitoring mechanism and its implementation.

Implementation, as previously agreed, of U.S. rebuilding, training and resumed security co-operation plan in collaboration with outside oversight board (U.S.-Egypt-Jordan). Quartet support for efforts to achieve a lasting, comprehensive cease-fire.

  • All Palestinian security organisations are consolidated into three services reporting to an empowered Interior Minister.
  • Restructured/retrained Palestinian security forces and IDF counterparts progressively resume security co-operation and other undertakings in implementation of the Tenet work plan, including regular senior-level meetings, with the participation of U.S. security officials.

Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.

All donors providing budgetary support for the Palestinians channel these funds through the Palestinian Ministry of Finance's Single Treasury Account.

As comprehensive security performance moves forward, IDF withdraws progressively from areas occupied since September28 , 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed prior to September28 ,2000 . Palestinian security forces redeploy to areas vacated by IDF.


Immediate action on credible process to produce draft constitution for Palestinian statehood. As rapidly as possible, constitutional committee circulates draft Palestinian constitution, based on strong parliamentary democracy and cabinet with empowered Prime Minister, for public comment/debate. Constitutional committee proposes draft document for submission after elections for approval by appropriate Palestinian institutions.

Appointment of interim prime minister or cabinet with empowered executive authority/decision-making body.

GOI fully facilitates travel of Palestinian officials for PLC and Cabinet sessions, internationally supervised security retraining, electoral and other reform activity, and other supportive measures related to the reform efforts.

Continued appointment of Palestinian ministers empowered to undertake fundamental reform. Completion of further steps to achieve genuine separation of powers, including any necessary Palestinian legal reforms for this purpose.

Establishment of independent Palestinian election commission. PLC reviews and revises election law.

Palestinian performance on judicial, administrative, and economic benchmarks, as established by the International Task Force on Palestinian Reform.

As early as possible, and based upon the above measures and in the context of open debate and transparent candidate selection/electoral campaign based on a free, multiparty process, Palestinians hold free, open, and fair elections.

GOI facilitates Task Force election assistance, registration of voters, movement of candidates and voting officials. Support for NGOs involved in the election process.

GOI reopens Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem based on a commitment that these institutions operate strictly in accordance with prior agreements between the parties.


Israel takes measures to improve the humanitarian situation. Israel and Palestinians implement in full all recommendations of the Bertini report to improve humanitarian conditions, lifting curfews and easing restrictions on movement of persons and goods, and allowing full, safe, and unfettered access of international and humanitarian personnel.

AHLC reviews the humanitarian situation and prospects for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza and launches a major donor assistance effort, including to the reform effort.

GOI and PA continue revenue clearance process and transfer of funds, including arrears, in accordance with agreed, transparent monitoring mechanism.


Continued donor support, including increased funding through PVOs/NGOs, for people to people programs, private sector _development and civil society initiatives.


GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March2001 .

Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).



In the second phase, efforts are focused on the option of creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty, based on the new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement. As has been noted, this goal can be achieved when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror, willing and able to build a practising democracy based on tolerance and liberty. With such a leadership, reformed civil institutions and security structures, the Palestinians will have the active support of the Quartet and the broader international community in establishing an independent, viable, state.

Progress into Phase II will be based upon the consensus judgement of the Quartet of whether conditions are appropriate to proceed, taking into account performance of both parties. Furthering and sustaining efforts to normalise Palestinian lives and build Palestinian institutions, Phase II starts after Palestinian elections and ends with possible creation of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders in2003 . Its primary goals are continued comprehensive security performance and effective security co-operation, continued normalisation of Palestinian life and institution-building, further building on and sustaining of the goals outlined in Phase I, ratification of a democratic Palestinian constitution, formal establishment of office of prime minister, consolidation of political reform, and the creation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders.


Convened by the Quartet, in consultation with the parties, immediately after the successful conclusion of Palestinian elections, to support Palestinian economic recovery and launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian 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.
  • Arab states restore pre-Intifada links to Israel (trade offices, etc.).
  • Revival of multilateral engagement on issues including regional water resources, environment, economic development, refugees, and arms control issues.

New constitution for democratic, independent Palestinian State is finalised and approved by appropriate Palestinian institutions. Further elections, if required, should follow approval of the new constitution.

Empowered reform cabinet with office of Prime Minister formally established, consistent with draft constitution.

Continued comprehensive security performance, including effective security co-operation on the bases laid out in Phase I.

Creation of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders through a process of Israeli-Palestinian engagement, launched by the international conference. As part of this process, implementation of prior agreements, to enhance maximum territorial contiguity, including further action on settlements in conjunction with establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders.

Enhanced international role in monitoring transition, with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet.

Quartet members promote international recognition of Palestinian state, including possible UN membership.



Progress into Phase III, based on consensus judgement of Quartet, and taking into account actions of both parties and _Quartet monitoring. Phase III objectives are consolidation of reform and stabilisation of Palestinian institutions, sustained, effective Palestinian security performance, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status agreement in2005 .


Convened by Quartet, in consultation with the parties, at beginning of 2004 to endorse agreement reached on an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and formally to launch a process with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet, leading to a final, permanent status resolution in2005 , including on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements; and, to support progress toward a comprehensive Middle East settlement between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria, to be achieved as soon as possible.

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

Continued sustained and effective security performance, and sustained, effective security co-operation on the bases laid out in Phase I.

International efforts to facilitate reform and stabilise Palestinian institutions and the Palestinian economy, in preparation for final status agreement.

Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israel-Palestinian conflict in2005 , through a settlement negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR242 ,338 , and1397 , that ends the occupation that began in1967 , and includes an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims world-wide, and fulfils the vision of two states, Israel and sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

Arab state acceptance of full normal relations with Israel and security for all the states of the region in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.

© Dr Harry Hagopian   |   2003   |   June


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