Sharon sabotages Road Map peace plan

TEL AVIV – Acts of escalated state terror, engineered and ordered by the Israeli rulers and their so-called security forces, have injured over 200 and cost the lives of at least 25 Palestinians and five Israelis during the last week. The inflammatory actions by Ariel Sharon’s government are aimed, among other things, at sabotaging any steps toward a possible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The bloody events of recent days prove that Sharon, despite his lip service to the so-called “Road Map” to Mideast peace, is determined to block any real steps toward a just settlement of the conflict.

The Palestinians made concessions to U.S. and Israeli pressure. Late last month their Legislative Council voted into office their new Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Shortly thereafter, U.S. Tel-Aviv ambassador Daniel Kurtzer handed to Sharon, and European Union (EU) envoy Miguel Moratinos handed to Abu Mazen and President Arafat, the “performance-based and goal-driven road map” document. This document, initiated by President Bush and adopted by the U.S.-UN-EU-Russian “Quartet,” is put forth as a prescription for a gradual two-year process towards peace between Israel and Palestine.

The document outlines gradual means, in its first steps, to advance an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire during the next few months. The Israeli occupation forces are to retreat to positions held before Sept. 28, 2000, the outbreak of the recent Intifada. Full Palestinian control over the pre-Intifada towns and areas are to be restored with provisional boundaries. Illegal Jewish settlement outposts are to be dismantled and any further settlement construction is supposed to be frozen.

Subsequent steps in the plan outline the road to a peaceful ending of the conflict, the final goal being a two-state solution: the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and Israel remaining within its pre-1967 borders. This is to occur no later than 2005. For Jerusalem, a solution is to be found by mutual understanding between Israel and Palestine under international supervision.

At first glance the road map looks quite promising. But it contains serious pitfalls and obstacles. For instance, it demands as a precondition a Palestinian commitment to stop what is defined as terror and armed resistance to the Israeli occupation, aimed against Israel and Israelis, to subdue all kind of terrorism, to outlaw all militias of the various Palestinian parties and NGOs, to confiscate all weapons in their hands, etc.

But no similar demand is made about ending the state terrorism of the Israeli occupation army and security services against the Palestinians. Nor is any demand raised by the road map authors about dismantling and disarming the various armed Israeli militia amongst the colonialist settler communities, such as the formally outlawed terrorist Kahane-Hay gangs and their ilk.

Nobody should be fooled. Sharon and at least some of his cabinet coalition partners have no intention of going along in earnest with the road map design. Sharon gives lip service to the plan, and praises Bush on TV. In the same breath he adds his own sabotaging preconditions, demanding from the Palestinians a one-sided end to their “terror,” that the Palestinian Authority disarm Hamas, Jihad, Tanzim and all other militia before any cease-fire steps be considered, and so on. Some of his closest associates have pronounced their own road maps and preconditions.

For example, tourist minister Benjamin (Benny) Elon, the chair of the ultra-right National Union Party, seems to think that the “transfer,” in other words, expulsion of the Palestinians out of what he regards as the whole Land-of-Israel west of the Jordan River, is now one of his tourism tasks. The future Palestinian state should be established east of the Jordan River, he says, on the territory of Jordan. Elon toured the U.S. last week to drum up support for his plan, focusing his efforts on right-wing Evangelical Christians.

The ultra-right-wing leadership of the YESHA Union, made up of the local councils of the colonialist settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has already made known that the settlers – most of them belonging to Sharon’s election constituency – will fight any dismantling or evacuation of their illegal settlements.

In another development, Amram Mitzna, who last year was elected chair of the Labor Party by an overwhelming majority of the Labor rank-and-file, has resigned from his party chair post. Mitzna says that he is no longer able to chair a party where the majority of its leaders are constantly instigating and intriguing against him and his attitude of favoring a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org