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ProgressiveMuslim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 08:30 AM
Original message
A Roadmap to Nowhere
by Joharah Baker


However, to those of us on the inside, the roadmap was always bound to lead down the proverbial drain like all the incomprehensive and insufficient agreements before it. The reason is plain and simple, but one which eludes the major "peacemakers" in this conflict. As long as the roadmap, or any other agreement--and we have all witnessed the demise of the Oslo accords--does not unequivocally address and demand an end to Israel's military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, nothing will ever come good.

This may sound simplistic to some. They will say that negotiating is the path on which modern and civilized countries reach agreements and compromise the only answer to avoiding more strife. However, Palestinians have already offered a generous compromise in the form of accepting a state on 22 percent of historical Palestine. This is a fact not appreciated by many.

The Palestinian leadership made that decision in 1988 and has not reneged on it since, neither will they in the future. That is not even the problem, which is more the fact that when the leadership, under the late President Yasser Arafat, decided to essentially move from the realm of revolution to one of diplomacy and negotiations, it became bound to this track forever.

Ask almost any Palestinian and they will say the roadmap has failed thus far because of Israeli settlements. To a large extent, this is true. The first phase of the roadmap requires that Israel "freeze all settlement activity and dismantle outposts". Israel has completely disregarded this clause and continues to this day to announce tenders for additional housing units in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements. This is particularly true for Jewish settlements around Jerusalem, a move that can only be understood in the context of Israel's bid to retain as much West Bank land around Jerusalem as possible in any final agreement.

Israel's unfettered hand at creating facts on the ground is compounded by the blatant endorsement of the roadmap's broker, the United States. While the US pays lip service to Palestinian demands for a halt to settlement activity, calling it "unhelpful" or on good days "an impediment to the peace process", in reality the Americans have done nothing to stop it. In Bush's April 2004 letter to then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, he writes, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Never mind that international law deems all Israeli settlements built on all land occupied in the 1967 war as illegal and calls for their dismantlement. Yet another fact lost in translation.

The separation wall being built in and around the West Bank is yet another indication that Israel has no intention of implementing its roadmap obligations. While phase I requires that Israel improve the Palestinians' humanitarian situation, the wall and the social and economic isolation it creates (not to mention its political ramifications) along with the continued siege on Gaza show that the Palestinian "humanitarian situation" is not very high on Israel's list of priorities.

This is not to say that Palestinians are not at fault as well. While they have made many a concerted effort to live up to their obligations in terms of curbing "terrorist" groups (a peek into Palestinian prisons filled with Hamas and Islamic Jihad loyalists is enough evidence of this), they have their own internal issues to sort out. With the Hamas-Fateh rift only growing wider despite various efforts to bridge the gap, the Palestinians are moving farther and farther away from presenting a united front. The division has cost Palestinians their modest strength in their negotiating position and has chipped away at the credibility of both leaderships with their own people.

Nonetheless, it all comes down to intention. Israel has made no secret of its intention to keep hold of major settlement blocs in the West Bank. It does not plan on relinquishing East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider the capital of their future Palestinian state, nor does it accept the right of return for Palestinian refugees. In simple terms, if Israel does end its 40 year long military occupation, it will leave behind a disconnected, geographically and economically unviable entity that will render even Bush's Swiss cheese analogy a rose-tinted vision.

In terms of the Palestinians, perhaps their major flaw is relying too heavily on Arab countries, especially on those who have already signed peace deals with Israel without even a promise of restoring the rights of their Palestinian brethren.

As for the United States and the Quartet, the years of failed agreements and bitter conflict should be enough to drive home one crucial point. Without the promise of a just and comprehensive solution that entails a complete end to the Israeli occupation, the roadmap will eventually and inexorably meet the fate of all the other agreements before it.- Published 5/5/2008

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Vegasaurus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
1. Had the Palestinians ever agreed to any of the prior agreements
there would have been no further settlement activity, and they would be in their own state by now.

The longer they resist, the worse their situation becomes.

There is less land available to them now, because they have refused to negotiate and have continued violent resistance.
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ProgressiveMuslim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. WTF are you talking about?

You contend the illegal settlement activity is punishment?
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Vegasaurus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. At every juncture, the Palestinians have made the wrong decisions and lost more
the amount of land they would have had in 1947 would have made for a very nice sized state.

Each year that they have continued to resist and use violence, the amount of land they will eventually get is less.

There would have been no settlement, had they not started a war in 1967,

There could have been a state a number of times now.

But they have squandered all those chances.
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subsuelo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. "they squandered those chances"
of course Israel stealing their land has nothing to do with it...
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. The Palestinians started a war in 1967?
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ProgressiveMuslim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Tired old bullshit propaganda. I am not surprised that you are not offering
evidence for the statement you made above.
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. So, as a way of "punishing" the Palestinians
Israeli policy is to make a one state solution inevitable. Very smart.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
8. Jerusalem will be the sticking point
It seems like that is the one area where neither side is willing to make the kind of compromises necessary for a deal to be reached.

I can see a mutually acceptable arrangement being reached regarding right of return and the settlement blocs in the West Bank, but reaching an agreement regarding Jerusalem, I fear, will remain a near insurmountable challenge.
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