Will the Settlement Issue KO the Roadmap???
May 13, 2003
Comment: # 480
[Ref. 1] "Roadmap to Solution of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Department of State, April 30.
[Ref 2] Ze'ev Schiff, "Spreading a big lie," Ha'aretz, May 09, 2003
Israel was the only major country whose people and leadership overwhelmingly supported the United States' preemptive attack on on Iraq, and no country benefited more in a strategic sense from Saddam's demise than Israel. As part of the build up to the war, President Bush intimated from time to time that he would address the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, once Saddam was disposed of. Indeed, many asserted the disposition of Mr. Hussein would completely change the political dynamic in the Middle East and thereby pave the way to a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
True to his word, on 30 April, Mr. Bush released a three-phased "performance-based" roadmap for a establishing a Palestinian State by 200. [See Reference 1 below]. Phase I of the Roadmap includes reciprocal confidence building measures by Palestinians (stop the terror, among other things) and Israelis (stop expanding settlements & dismantle outposts, among other things).
But, as the attached Ha'aretz reports, Mr. Sharon says the issue of settlements and Gaza—an issue most nations, including the United States have said are illegal — is "not an issue on the horizon." In other words, Israel will reserve the right to continue expanding the settlements in the West Bank, even while it is demanding an end to violence and terror by the Palestinians. Yet it common knowledge that settlements are a major incitement of that violence.
So, goodbye Phase I
Mr. Sharon's is only proposing to do what other Israeli governments have been doing since the Camp David Accords. Israeli settlement expansion began before President Carter signed the Camp David Accords but accelerated immediately thereafter. Notwithstanding the Madrid Conference (Bush I, after first Iraq War) and the Oslo Peace Process (Clinton), the rate of settlement buildup in the West Bank and Gaza continued unabated throughout the 1990s and was a major factor contributing to the blow up of Camp David II ... and it continues today, in the middle of a vicious Intifada—read Reference 2 carefully.
The attached chart puts Mr. Sharon's non-issue of settlement growth into a historical perspective. It shows the build up of settlers on the West Bank from 1972 to 2002. Note that it excludes those living in East Jerusalem (now about 177,000, according to the CIA World Fact Book), because of data limitations, nor does it address the issues of settlers in Gaza (over 5000 settlers) or the Golan (about 20,000 settlers).
Sharon says settlements 'not an issue on horizon'
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in a published interview that dismantling settlements on land Palestinians seek for a state under a U.S.-backed peace plan is "not an issue on the horizon".
The "road map" plan calls for Israel to stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as part of a series of confidence-building steps under which Palestinians would crack down on Palestinian militants targeting Israelis.
Sharon told the Jerusalem Post newspaper that all Israeli governments had pursued settlements in some form in the past even during periods of peace diplomacy. "But in my mind this is not an issue on the horizon right now," he said.
"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, from a letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]
State Department releases text April 30
The U.S. State Department April 30 released the text of the "roadmap" to a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The roadmap specifies the steps for the two parties to take to reach a settlement, and a timeline for doing so, under the auspices of the Quartet - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.
Following is the text of the roadmap:
A PERFORMANCE-BASED ROADMAP TO A PERMANENT TWO-STATE SOLUTION TO THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
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 United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia]. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005, 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 practicing 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 neighbors. 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, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, 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 neighbor 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.
PHASE I: ENDING TERROR AND VIOLENCE, NORMALIZING PALESTINIAN LIFE, AND BUILDING PALESTINIAN INSTITUTIONS - PRESENT TO MAY 2003
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 cooperation 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 normalize Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.
At the outset of Phase I:
PHASE II: TRANSITION - JUNE 2003-DECEMBER 2003
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 practicing 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 judgment of the Quartet of whether conditions are appropriate to proceed, taking into account performance of both parties. Furthering and sustaining efforts to normalize 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 in 2003. Its primary goals are continued comprehensive security performance and effective security cooperation, continued normalization 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.
PHASE III: PERMANENT STATUS AGREEMENT AND END OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT - 2004-2005
Progress into Phase III, based on consensus judgment of Quartet, and taking into account actions of both parties and Quartet monitoring. Phase III objectives are consolidation of reform and stabilization of Palestinian institutions, sustained, effective Palestinian security performance, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status agreement in 2005.
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.
Spreading a big lie
On May 31, 2001, after Palestinians killed an Israel security guard at a settlement outpost near Itamar, the Israel Defense Forces presented then-Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer with a breakdown of the outposts in Judea and Samaria.
The picture showed 66 outposts, 24 of which had been established since the start of the armed intifada, and 19 of which were being guarded by the IDF. The minister's aide on settlement and infrastructure issues added that 60 of the outposts were legally flawed from various points of view. Following a review of the matter by a Defense Ministry panel, Ben-Eliezer announced that 15 outposts had to be evacuated.
Some 18 months later, on October 16, 2002, a document submitted to the defense minister said that, in addition to 15 outposts evacuated in July 2001, a further 20 such sites named in the document were evacuated in July 2002. The document added that an order had been given to evacuate another 30 illegal outposts. The document again named the sites, which included six over which the settlers had petitioned the High Court of Justice.
This was the report given to the defense minister and this is how the issue was covered in official documents. On the ground, however, the picture was very different. On the face of it, 65 outposts should have been evacuated but toward the end of October 2002, the office of the adviser on settlement affairs announced only 21 such sites had been dismantled. This, too, was a virtual report.
The real picture bursts forth from the material released recently by the committee (an inter-ministerial one, this time) on the issue of the outposts set up by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. The number of outposts in existence as of May 2003 ranges from 90 to 100. In other words, despite the repeated directives to evacuate outposts, and the alleged evacuations that took place in the field, the number of such sites has increased during the period of May 2001-May 2002 from 66 to 90-100.
All of this means that, when it comes to outposts, the issue has involved the spreading of one of the State of Israel's biggest lies - not only a lie that was told to the Americans and conveyed in semi-official announcements, but also an ongoing lie that the Israeli public is being fed. The stories about the ministerial and inter-ministerial committees that are reviewing, ad nauseam, the precise legal status of each and every outpost are part of the greater lie; and if the members of these committees are party to the lie, then their time is being wasted.
The establishment of an outpost with authorization on private Arab land is clearly daylight robbery. But trying to create the impression that a portion of the outposts have something of a legal foothold, and that there are only certain anomalies in the field, the question that has to be asked is: "Legal in whose eyes?"
This is another matter in which the government has failed recently in its dealings with the Americans. In talks in Washington on the road map, Israeli representatives said Israel would act in the matter in accordance with "the understanding" reached at the time between former foreign minister Shimon Peres and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
When an Israel representative was asked to elaborate on the understanding, he said: No more settlements will be established; the recommendation that the existing settlements will not be expanded, including expansion as the result of natural population growth, will not apply to the built-up areas of the settlements; and the final fate of the settlements will be determined in the final-status agreement.
The U.S. administration and Powell himself denied that such an understanding exists. Which of Israel's ministers is aware of this?
Israel's governments appear to have a policy with regard to the outposts; but ever since the outbreak of the armed uprising, it appears to be more intentional haphazardness than policy. Just as Yasser Arafat wants disorder on security matters so as to allow the terror to continue, so, too, is Israel causing disorder vis-ŕ-vis the outposts so as not to put its own policy into practice.
Israel, in fact, wants the settlers to deceive it; and when its policy is rudely breached, it does not enforce the law. If we have, indeed, entered a new period, the only viable conclusion is that, on this issue, Washington must apply pressure to Israel for its own sake.