Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Was Right With the Roadmap and What Was Wrong With Annapolis?

The "Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" was a deeply flawed document but it had one redeeming feature.

In terms of the obligations it placed on the two parties involved in the Palestinian Arab portion of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it called for additional concessions by Israel, such as the freezing of all of its building activity in the disputed territories while allowing Arab settlement expansion to go on unimpeded, while asking nothing of the Palestinian Arabs beyond what they had committed to back in 1993 but had repeatedly reneged on.

The one redeeming feature was that it was "performance-based:" For the first time, the Palestinian Arabs would not be able to weasel out of its commitments by pleading they were too weak to implement them.

The roadmap stalled for four years, effectively becoming caduq, because the Palestinian Arabs kept playing by the old rules. They claimed they accepted the roadmap, but even the allegedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly insisted he would never confront the terrorists in the disputed territories — the only real obligation he had.

It was this refusal that led to the ascendency of Hamas and its coup d'etat in Gaza. Once again, the Palestinian Authority effectively subverted itself with its intransigence, to the detriment not only of its leadership but also causing further disaster for the Palestinian Arabs.

But at least the United States did not reward the Palestinian Authority for that intransigence.

And then came Annapolis, putting the final nail in the coffin of the only positive aspect of the roadmap.

By initiating final status negotiations, Annapolis bypassed the first two phases of the roadmap. True, there was a minor sop: any agreements would not be implemented until the first two phases of the raodmap were completed. However, by once again letting the Palestinian Authority weasel out of an obligation to which it had agreed, the Bush Administration once again sent precisely the wrong message and effectively sabotaged the peace it was trying to advance.

We may hope Annapolis eventually leads to peace, but this fundamental flaw implies it will do precisely the opposite. In "Change the Paradigm of Bias, Part I and Part II, available on the PRIMER blog, I explained how repeatedly pressuring Israel for concessions while excusing endemic Palestinian Arab non-compliance was counterproductive to peace.

The performance-based aspect of the roadmap was its one aspect bringing a minimal amount of hope for changing that wrongheaded bias.

The Annapolis Conference not only destroyed that hope, but accentuated the bias and rewarding Arab intransigence.

Once again, leading up to the conference, America demanded foolhardy "confidence-building" gestures from Israel. So there were more releases of terrorists from prisons, actions which will undoubtedly result in more terrorist activity. The only confidence those releases increase is the confidence among Palestinian Arabs that intransigence will always be rewarded. Once more, they are being taught they can engage in terrorism with confidence that, even if they are caught, their leadership will work hard to get them released.

Even as the Annapolis Conference was convening, the Kassam barrages from Gaza towards the Israeli town of Sederot continued. Even as the Annopolis Conference was convening, the Palestinian Authority was showing maps showing all of Israel as "Palestinian territory," with no indication Israel exists.

Confidence-building measures are indeed necessary, but it is the Palestinian Authority which must take them.

It is the Palestinian Authority which must ends its glorification of terrorism.

It is the Palestinian Authority which needs to start teaching its children about living in peace.

It is the Palestinian Authority which must eliminate the terrorist infrastructure it built up.

It is the Palestinian Authority which must begin responsibly exerting authority over the people it has long governed.

It is the Palestinian Authority which must begin dismantling the "refugee" camps to which it has confined so many Palestinian Arabs.

It is the Palestinian Authority which must demonstrate it is interested in a reasonable peace agreement and has the authority and willingness to implement.

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