A roadmap to misery
As US President Bush’s envoy to the region, it would see reasonable to presume that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns is committed to advancing Bush’s Middle East policy.
In order to assess Burns’s chances of success in advancing Secretary of State Colin Powell’s boss’s plans, we think it is important to bear in mind just what those plans involve.
Standing on the White House lawn with Secretary of State Colin Powell at his side, on June 24 President Bush laid out his “roadmap” for the Middle East in great and eloquent detail.
Since we would not presume to know the President’s policy better than the president himself, we think it is reasonable to quote the major points of that address. For clarity’s sake, we have taken the liberty of organizing the Bush’s remarks as bullet points.
– "There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror…"
– Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
– When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state.
– A Palestinian state will never be created by terror — it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
– The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
– Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel.
– As we make progress towards security, Israel’s forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000.
– As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands.
Last week at the White House, Burns handed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the State Department’s “road map” for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
In stark contradiction to the President’s program, this “roadmap” which Burns is now here to discuss with Israel’s leaders, calls for Israel to withdraw IDF forces to the position they held on September 28, 2000 ahead of any Palestinian action to dismantle terror organizations and confiscate of illegal weapons.
Colin Powell’s plan further dictates that Israel must hand over billions of shekels in tax revenues to the Palestinians now. That is, the funds must be given to Arafat’s men who today head the wholly unreformed Palestinian security services and dictatorial bureaucracy.
On Tuesday IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-General Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that it was Israel’s decision to ease its hold on Jenin in order to enable the civilian population to live their lives with a semblance of normality that enabled the terrorists to carry out their barbaric attack on bus 841 on Monday.
The State Department’s “roadmap” calls on the IDF to cease all of its anti-terror operations immediately in order to ease the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinians.
The State Department’s plan further calls for Palestinian statehood without any real benchmarks really being met to ensure that such a state will not simply be another state supporter of terrorism like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq which the US is set to deploy thousands of troops to depose.
Prejudging the outcome of a mission still underway can be tricky business. But given the absolute divergence of the State Department’s “roadmap” from the president’s Middle East policy the outcome is clear.
For the past nine years over a thousand Israelis have been murdered and the Palestinians have been systematically disenfranchised because the world turned a blind eye to PA corruption, terrorism and incitement to the destruction of Israel.
Understanding this reality, the president demanded that all future attempts to make peace be based on a fundamental transformation of Palestinian society, starting at the top.
In regurgitating formulas that have been repeatedly tried and have repeatedly failed in its attempt to restart the peace process, the State Department has shown total disregard for President Bush’s Middle East policy. If adopted, the State Department’s “roadmap” will push both Israel and the Palestinians onto a path that will lead only to more terror, more misery and more hatred. Because of this, we can only conclude, that a success for Burns will be a failure for President Bush, for Israel and for the Palestinians.
Originally published as an unsigned editorial in The Jerusalem Post