Road map for peace

Road map for peace

The "road map" for peace is a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposed by a "quartet" of international entities: the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. The principles of the plan were first outlined by U.S. President George W. Bush in a speech on June 24, 2002, in which he called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace: "The Roadmap represents a starting point toward achieving the vision of two states, a secure State of Israel and a viable, peaceful, democratic Palestine. It is the framework for progress towards lasting peace and security in the Middle East..." [Roadmap For Peace in the Middle East:Israeli/Palestinian Reciprocal Action, Quartet Support'U.S.Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs,16/7/2003]


In exchange for statehood, the road map requires the Palestinian Authority to make democratic reforms and abandon the use of terrorism. Israel, for its part, must support and accept the emergence of a reformed Palestinian government and end settlement activity of the Gaza Strip and West Bank as the Palestinian terrorist threat is removed.


The road map comprises three goal-driven phases with the ultimate goal of ending the conflict as early as 2005. 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 quartet put the plan together, with amendments following consultations with Israelis and Palestinians:

* Phase I (as early as May 2003): End to Palestinian violence; Palestinian political reform; Israeli withdrawal and freeze on settlement expansion; Palestinian elections.
* Phase II (as early as June-Dec 2003): International Conference to support Palestinian economic recovery and launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders; revival of multilateral engagement on issues including regional water resources, environment, economic development, refugees, and arms control issues; Arab states restore pre-intifada links to Israel (trade offices, etc.).

* Phase III (as early as 2004-2005): second international conference; permanent status agreement and end of conflict; agreement on final borders, clarification of the highly controversial question of the fate of Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; Arab state to agree to peace deals with Israel.

Start of implementation

The first step on the road map was the appointment of the first-ever Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The United States and Israel demanded that Arafat be neutralized or sidelined in the road map process, claiming that he had not done enough to stop Palestinian attacks against Israelis while in charge. The United States refused to release the road map until a Palestinian Prime Minister was in place. Abbas was appointed on March 19, 2003, clearing the way for the release of the road map's details on April 30, 2003.

On May 27, 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated that the "occupation" of Palestinian territories was "a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians" and "can't continue endlessly." Sharon's phraseology prompted shock from many in Israel, leading to a clarification that by "occupation," Sharon meant control of millions of Palestinian lives rather than actual physical occupation of land. Nevertheless, outsiders believed that Sharon knew what he was saying when he used the word "occupation" and was carefully offering the road map for peace a chance, despite his traditionally hawkish views towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the Prime Minister's Cabinet 'approved' the road map, they attached 14 reservations to the plan. [ [ Israel's road map reservations, Haaretz, 27/05/2003] ] The move was regarded by some as reminiscent of the political tactic employed by the US Senate to defeat the ratification of the Versailles Peace Treaty. [ [ US Senate History, A Bitter Rejection] ]

President Bush visited the Middle East from June 2-4 2003 for two summits in an attempt to push the road map as part of a seven-day overseas trip through Europe and Russia. On June 2, Israel freed about 100 Palestinian prisoners before the first summit in Egypt as a sign of goodwill. The list consisted largely of administrative detainees who were due to be released. Subsequent prisoner releases involved members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the government insisted that those slated for release did not have Israeli "blood on their hands." [ [ Cabinet approves release of Hamas and Jihad prisoners] ] In Egypt on June 3, President Bush met with the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain, and with Prime Minister Abbas. The Arab leaders announced their support for the road map and promised to work on cutting off funding to terrorist groups. On June 4, Bush headed to Jordan to meet directly with Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.

Halt in implementation

After Bush left the region, the Palestinians launched a series of attacks against Israelis, which led to retaliations by the Israelis. This threatened to derail the road map plan. On June 5, 2003, the bodies of two Israelis were found near Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, beaten and stabbed to death. On June 8, 2003, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi directed an attack that killed four Israeli soldiers at the Erez Checkpoint in the Gaza Strip. On June 10, 2003, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car in Gaza in a failed attempt to assassinate Rantissi; two Palestinians were killed. The next day, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 17 passengers and bystanders on an Israeli bus. In the following few days, Israel continued its targeting of Hamas leaders with new helicopter attacks.

On June 29, 2003, a tentative cease-fire was reached between the Palestinian Authority and four major Palestinian groups. Islamic Jihad and Hamas announced a joint three-month cease-fire, while Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction declared a six-month truce. The cease-fire was later joined by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One condition of maintaining the truce was a demand for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, which was not part of the road map process. Despite this, Israel withdrew troops from the northern Gaza Strip and was discussing the transfer of territory to Palestinian control. This coincided with a visit to the region by United States National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

On July 1, 2003, in Jerusalem, Sharon and Abbas held a first-ever ceremonial opening to peace talks, televised live in both Arabic and Hebrew. Both leaders said the violence had gone on too long and that they were committed to the U.S.-led road map for peace. On July 2, Israeli troops pulled out of Bethlehem and transferred control to Palestinian security forces. The plan required that Palestinian police take over from withdrawing Israeli forces and stop any anti-Israeli militant attacks. At the same time, the U.S. announced a $30 million aid package to the Palestinian Authority to help rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Israeli incursions.

By the end of 2003, since the Palestinian Authority had not prevented Palestinian terrorism, Israel had neither withdrawn from Palestinian areas occupied since September 28, 2000, nor frozen settlement expansion. Thus the requirements of Phase I of the road map were not fulfilled, and the road map has not continued further. It is thus currently effectively in limbo.

On February 13, 2004 the United States government decided that it would endorse Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for a unilateral withdrawal of most Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip, adding that "...negotiations were impossible because of Palestinian recalcitrance." []

Continuation of the road map

On April 14, 2004, President George W. Bush wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon seeming to herald two significant changes or increased specifications to longstanding but ambiguous U.S. policy which had most recently been embodied in the road map. For the first time during the road map process, Bush indicated his expectations as to the outcome of the final status negotiations. The letter was widely seen as a triumph for Sharon [] , since Bush's expectations seemed to favor Israel on two highly contentious issues. Regarding final borders, the letter stated: "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, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities...". Second, regarding the Palestinian refugees' right of return, Bush also stated: "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel." []

On May 8, 2004 in an interview with Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper, President George W. Bush clarified the current situation regarding the road map stating:

Well, 2005 may be hard, since 2005 is right around the corner. I readily concede the date has slipped some, primarily because violence sprung up. When I laid out the date of 2005, I believe it was around the time I went to Aqaba, Jordan. It was a very meaningful moment, where former Prime Minister Abu Mazen, myself, Prime Minister Sharon and His Majesty, the King of Jordan, stood up and pledged to work together.

But we hit a bump in the road -- violence, as well as Abu Mazen being replaced, which changed the dynamic. I don't want to make any excuses, but nevertheless, I think the timetable of 2005 isn't as realistic as it was two years ago. Nevertheless, I do think we ought to push hard as fast as possible to get a state in place.

And I repeat to you, sir, that part of my frustrations were alleviated with the Quartet making the statement it made the other day -- the Quartet being the EU, Russia, United Nations and the United States, working together. I think we can get the World Bank involved. But there is a certain sense of responsibility that falls upon the Palestinians, reform-minded Palestinians to step up and say, yes, we accept these institutions necessary for a peaceful state to emerge. []

On July 18, 2004, United States President George W. Bush stated that the establishment of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005 was unlikely due to instability and violence in the Palestinian Authority. [ (Le Figaro)]

In November 2004 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died aged 75 in a French hospital. Arafat's powers were divided among his officials, with Mahmoud Abbas elected head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Rawhi Fattuh sworn in as acting president of the Palestinian Authority. []

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the death could be a turning point for peace if the Palestinians "ceased terrorism" and waged a "war on terror".

The White House simply described the death as a "significant moment in Palestinian history", and offered condolences.

On 8 February 2005, the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority came together at Sharm el-Sheikh for a summit meeting at which they declared their continuing support for the road map.

In his May 26, 2005 joint press conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Rose Garden, President Bush said:

Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations. []

This statement was widely seen as a triumph for Abbas, as many commentators view it as contradictory to his April 14, 2004 letter [] . The Bush administration has made no attempts to clarify any perceived discrepancies between the two statements.

In August 2005, the Israelis started their planned disengagement from the Gaza Strip, removing all of its settlements from this area and from a portion of the West Bank. This was widely endorsed around the world and the process, although unilateral on Israel's part, was co-ordinated with the Palestinian Authority.

In early January 2006, Sharon suffered a major stroke and did not awake from an induced coma. []

With Sharon in a serious condition in hospital, his powers were transferred to his deputy, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert. [] On March 28, 2006 Knesset elections were held, and Olmert's party, Kadima, won the most seats. On April 14, 2006 Sharon was declared permanently incapacitated, and Olmert was named interim Prime Minister. Fact|date=February 2007

On 4 June, 2006 Ehud Olmert announced he will meet Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks on the Road map for peace. Olmert and Abbas joined breakfast with King Abdullah II of Jordan on 22 June 2006 in Petra. [ [ EuroNews] , 22 June 2006] They pledged to meet again in coming weeks. [ AP] , 22 June 2006]

On 22 June, Hamas accepts parts of the prisoners' document, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state. On 27 June, 2006 Hamas and Fatah both accept the document fully. [ [ Palestinians recognize Israel] , CNN, 27 June 2006]

2006: hostilities resume

In January 2006, the Islamic militant group Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. The preliminary results gave Hamas 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, with the ruling Fatah party trailing with 43. []

Both Israel and the U.S. announced that they would not deal with Hamas. In Israel, Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, "Israel will not conduct any negotiation with a Palestinian government if it includes any members of an armed terror organization that calls for Israel's destruction." Bush said the U.S would not deal with Hamas until it renounced its call to destroy Israel. But Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahhar refused to renounce violence. "We are not playing terrorism or violence. We are under occupation," he told BBC World TV. []

In mid-2006, the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict started between Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces in the Gaza strip. Not long after, clashes with Hezbollah in Lebanon precipitated the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. This conflict had a profound impact on the Middle-East crisis surrounding Israel. Controversial armament shipments from the USA were "rushed" to Israel [] , inducing Arab resentment. [] .

The crisis caused many analysts to declare the road map dead, or at least severely strained.

In October 2006, it was revealed in a Haaretz expose that rampant construction of settlements was ongoing in the West Bank, contrary to Israeli promises to the United States to halt settlement construction. [] According to the report, many of these settlements were built on private Palestinian property, including properties previously guaranteed by Israel. The report was allegedly kept secret in order to avoid a political crisis with the US.

As of mid-June 2007, a Palestinian civil conflict was unfolding, as Hamas had taken control of the Gaza Strip from the Fatah-led forces while Fatah controlled most of the West Bank.

See also

*One State Solution
*Elon Peace Plan

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties

*Paris Peace Conference, 1919
*Faisal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)
*1949 Armistice Agreements
*Camp David Accords (1978)
*Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1979)
*Madrid Conference of 1991
*Oslo Accords (1993)
*Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
*Camp David 2000 Summit
*Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
*Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
*List of Middle East peace proposals
*International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict
*Sharm el-Sheikh Summit of 2005


External links

* [ Full text of the "road map"] - April 30, 2003
* [ Text of Palestinian truces] - June 29, 2003
* [ Hamas vows to sabotage blueprint for Palestinian state]
* [ Abbas: I avoided Road Map compliance]
* [ Is the 2003 Roadmap an acceptable solution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict?]
* [ Hanan Ashwari on expected text of the Road Map written October 28, 2002]
* [ "A Shot at Peace": Can the U.S. Enforce the "Road Map"]
* [ Analysis of the Sharon government's strategy towards the Road map] - by Uri Avnery, 25. August 2003
* [,_2003/ Open Directory Project - "Road Map, 2003"] directory category

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