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The road map to Hell
By Scott Shore
We are all acquainted with the maxim that "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions." As a strong supporter of President George W. Bush and the Bush Doctrine in foreign policy, I can only believe that the latest Middle East plan presented by the US for consideration by Israel and the Palestinian Authority is a "gesture" to the Arab world or the Administration, especially the State Department, is either naïve or delusional regarding the facts on the ground. In any case, this plan is "dead on arrival" for a number of solid reasons.
Let us first consider the authors of this "road map." The "Quartet" consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The last three mentioned members are already on the record as demanding maximalist concessions from Israel and having active sponsorship or support of Yassir Arafat even during the worst periods of terrorism and Intifada. No Israeli government is going to allow the survival of the State of Israel to depend on the tender mercies of Russia, the EU or the UN.
It is astonishing in the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Bush Administration would even include these entities in a project of such enormous geopolitical importance in the region. Imagine the absurdity. The UN which has Libya as the head of its Human Rights Commission and just returned Cuba to that Commission is going to monitor objectively human rights violations in Israel, a sovereign US ally's territory and fairly condemn "terror" by the Palestinians? Should either the US or Israel trust our European "allies" to be fair and balanced when they are desperately trying to curry favor in the Arab world and maintain billions of dollars worth of commercial and military ties lost during the Battle of Iraq? Is Russia not a bad joke in this process? There is a larger question as to why there is so much kow-towing to Russia in general. While placating Russian pride after their historic fall is understandable, they still have roughly the GNP of the Netherlands and their military capabilities are no longer impressive. It was amazing to see Vladimir Putin publicly humiliate British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Moscow recently. Hint to Putin and Russia: Get over yourselves.
The fact is that this gruesome Quartet resembles more closely the four-headed Beast mentioned in the Bible (Daniel) than a serious diplomatic coalition. From the perspective of Israel this foursome is perceived more as a gang rape than a facilitating team for peace. The President must dissolve the Quartet if this plan has any chance of gaining acceptance in Israel. The US is the only country which has the credibility to broker an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
There is a reason why the Palestinians have agreed to this plan immediately in their public statements and Israel has remained silent. Virtually all of the hard concessions of strategic depth and displacement of Israeli citizens on disputed lands falls on Israel. Should this plan be implemented in its entirety, Israel would be reduced to the indefensible borders before the 1967 war. This is a non-starter for even the most dovish Israelis. This plan even includes redividing the capital city of Jerusalem. Even in polls that show that the vast majority of Israelis are, in fact, willing to make hard compromises for peace; the same polls show the almost no Israelis are willing to see Jerusalem returned to the occupation by Arab forces which occurred between 1948 and 1967. No Israeli government, including a leftist Labor government, could survive such a concession.
The only pledge the Palestinians must keep is to condemn and control terror groups. Condemning terror groups is relatively easy for the Palestinian authority (PA) and requires only proclamations. Actually controlling terror groups is beyond the means of the PA and thus they can always say they are trying and can not be held accountable for every terror incident. In truth, only by giving Israel a free hand to dismantle Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Arafat's own Al-Aksa brigades, Tanzim and Fatah movements can terror be halted. If the US does not give Israel a free hand, then President Bush must commit US military assets to this task. Until these groups are entirely crushed, the peace process will be aborted from Day One.
The first precondition for the Road Map was that Yassir Arafat's PLO infrastructure was to be totally replaced by a new democratic Palestinian representative body. In fact, Arafat is still very much in charge of all security and paramilitary operations and handpicked the new "Prime Minister" Abu-Mazen. Abu-Mazen wrote his doctoral thesis denying the Holocaust and advancing the idea that the Holocaust was primarily a public relations campaign on the part of Zionists. In 1964 Abu-Mazen was a cofounder of the PLO. One should recall this is three years prior to any "occupied" territories and the PLO Covenant called ( and still calls) for the destruction of the "Zionist entity." The wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 were all genocidal crusades to exterminate Israel. Abu-Mazen has been the chief paymaster under Arafat throughout the history of the PLO. In short, to say that Abu-Mazen represents new Palestinian leadership is akin to saying that Goebbels would have been acceptable an alternative to Hitler after the Second World War. Before the process can begin both Arafat and Abu-Mazen as well as anyone connected with the PLO or other Palestinian terror must be disengaged from the entire process.
This was a precondition set by President Bush himself. The other precondition was open elections with multiple parties. Currently there are no "dove" parties amongst the Palestinians. There exists only those who believe in a divided state of Gaza and the West Bank, those who believe in a return to the 1967 lines, those who believe in a return to the 1948 UN partition plan and those who believe in the eventual destruction of Israel. The Palestinian education system and controlled press is the structure for the indoctrination of an entire population to venomous Jew hatred. Literally all major aspects of Nazi propaganda are officially in the textbooks, newspapers and bookstores of the Arab controlled areas. Are these people educated voters who can fairly weigh the rights and concerns of both sides? By contrast, Israel has had a vigorous debate about the history of Zionism, the plight of the Arabs living in the Land of Israel prior to the creation of the State and the conflicting claims of both Jews and Arabs. This debate can be seen in Israeli politics, academia and the press. Just as the US is realistic about the prospects of genuine democracy in Iraq, so there should be a similar realism regarding the Palestinians.
The "Road Map" envisions the most bizarre nation-state for the Palestinians. On the Mediterranean there will lie the Gaza Strip. So far the PA has used the Gaza to try to transship illegal weapons from the Gaza to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). By itself the Arabs on the Gaza Strip have developed virtually no industry. One can only imagine if this land had been taken over completely by Israel. Surely this area would have become one of the most attractive Mediterranean tourist areas by now and a lush agricultural area. Despite billions in foreign aid from the UN, the US, and the EU to the Palestinians, the area remains a economic wasteland. Typical of the region, most of the humanitarian and economic assistance has lined the pockets of Palestinian officials and Swiss bank accounts. The corruption of the PA has become legendary. Separated by the West Bank by the Negev Desert in Israel will be the remainder of this noncontiguous state. The entire concept is preposterous and is likely to have the same fate as Western Pakistan (now Pakistan) and Eastern Pakistan (Bengladesh). The Palestinian state is not viable in its very conception. Beyond this, the intended plan is racist and unfair.
Under the "road map" the United States is endorsing the principle that Jews should be prohibited from living in the very heartland of the historic land of Israel. The entire Palestinian State will be legally Jew-free. Would anyone accept a reciprocal concept that Israel becomes absolutely Arab-free? By all rights the plan should require the resettlement of Arabs into the Palestinian areas if Jews are required to leave so-called Arab areas. It should be remembered that Judea and Samaria have always been disputed, not occupied, territories. In 1948, the Arab Legions in an attempt to wipe out the newly born Israel moved forces across the Jordan and captured large tracts of land on the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem. Many areas such as Hebron and the Etzion Bloc had been areas of Jewish settlements for decades or centuries. The inhabitants were slaughtered or driven from the land. By contrast, Israel told the Arabs NOT to panic during the War of Independence and that they would have full civil and political rights. Egged on by their leaders to join the Arab forces to wipe out Israel, thousands abandoned their homes inside the Jewish area. Nevertheless, there is a sizable Arab minority and one with full rights of citizenship and representation in the Israeli parliament. More Jews were forced to leave Arab lands at the creation of the State than Arabs who fled the Jewish areas of Israel. The notion that Jews are banned from living in their own land besides Arab neighbors is a clearly racist policy and one that would not be tolerated in any other "peace settlement."
Not only must the Israelis give up their rightful homes within the Land of Israel but in the meantime they are not allowed to even have "natural growth" which means adding an apartment if a couple from the town gets married and has a child. If a Jew adds a porch to his home it is considered "expansion" and is weighed against Palestinian efforts to stop terrorism. In other words, if a Jewish town in Judea builds a new home that is considered a "provocation" for violence and thus equated with Palestinian terrrorism. Such perverse moral equivalency is almost unspeakable in its sheer obscentity. There is absolutely no reason for Jews to stop buying land, building and living freely in Judea and Samaria (even if it were theoretically under Palestinian sovereignty). To say that the sight of a Jew is justifiably offensive to the Palestinians is to endorse a policy not seen since the Czars or Hitler. The Jews are to be kept, by international law, in a "pale of settlement" outside of any Palestinian area. The new Palestine is thus to be a total apartheid "Arab only" region, similar to setting up a "whites only" section of South Africa.
The real bottom line is that everything west of the Jordan is the entitlement of the Jewish people under the original League of Nations promise. It was the clear intention of the British mandate that west of the Jordan River would be the Jewish state and east of the Jordan (Transjordan) would be the Arab state. This is still the only viable solution. There already exists a Palestinian majority in Jordan. The Hashemite kings were from Mecca and were appointed arbitrarily over the region by the British Empire. Modern day Jordan is neither democratic nor a big ally of the United States. They remained close to Iraq during the first Persian Gulf war. They ignored the sanctions since the first Gulf War until Operation Iraqi Freedom and they were unhelpful in the latest operation. The US owes nothing to King Abdullah of Jordan. This land is the natural land for the Palestinians. The land is agriculturally rich and is many times the size of Israel. The Palestinian Authority needs to establish its capital in Amman. This "second" Palestinian state is a recipe for a new war and disaster. Ultimately, the PA can not control violence and there is no strategic option for tiny Israel to give up land. For Israel the whole matter is one of existence. For the Arabs the matter is one of appetite. The only real Road Map leads to a Jordanian solution. The current fantastic scheme is merely a timetable for all out war. This is not a plan worthy of a great US President who has set a high standard for international norms of behavior, the spread of freedom and the end to tyranny throughout the world. In time, I am sure that the true path to peace will become clear to President Bush and his Administration.
Scott Shore is an educator and political columnist who lives in Providence, RI.
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