If the Quartet’s road map is accepted, Yasser Arafat will win the greatest victory of his life. Despite the blatant violation of all his commitments in the Oslo agreements and his responsibility for the murder of more than 1,000 Israelis – nearly 800 of them during the last two years of terror – he has not been punished. On the contrary, he is holding on to the far-reaching concessions granted him at Oslo and in addition will get what even Yossi Beilin and Shimon Peres refused to give him: the establishment of a state, “independent, viable, sovereign with maximum territorial contiguity,” in principle, and without negotiation. That state is the main goal of the map, resulting from a childish belief on the part of the Quartet that the mere creation of the state will guarantee peace.
At the same time there’s no mention in the map of any of the conditions noted by the government as essential for our existential security: demilitarization; our complete control of the air space; a ban on the authority to sign international agreements, for example.
As far as we are concerned, there are two inviolate conditions: public recognition of Israel’s right to exist, including an end to the incitement educating toward our destruction in the Palestinian school system and inculcating peace as a value from an early age, and Palestinian relinquishment of their demand for the refugees to return to Israel.
These demands, without which there is no chance for peace, do not appear as a condition. Moreover, the Saudi Arabian initiative, which the map says has “ongoing importance,” speaks of solving the refugee problem through UN Resolution 194, which includes the “right of return,” as its centerpiece.
Borders: Those who believed Israel would be able to maintain control over areas of decisive strategic importance for our defense, find the map speaks about “ending the occupation that began in 1967,” in other words, a return to what Abba Eban called “the Auschwitz borders.”
Internationalization of the conflict: In the first year of the previous, unity government, Israel was careful not to use all that was necessary to defeat the terrorist organizations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, it did not topple the Palestinian Authority and did not expel Arafat. The price: hundreds of killed, thousands of wounded, and a rapid deterioration to a deep and unprecedented economic depression that we are now desperately trying to end. We did so to prevent the internationalization of the conflict by the entry of foreign observers and international conferences, that would, in effect, take out of our hands the sovereignty over management of the conflict and harm our ability to defend ourselves effectively.
That’s exactly what the road map does. Internationalization under Quartet orchestration: It convenes two international conferences meant to establish the Palestinian state and lead to a permanent agreement, accompany the process, establish a supervisory mechanism for the implementation, judge the disputes between the PA and Israel, set a “realistic timetable” for progress and become involved in the negotiations “when necessary.”
Jerusalem: The road map gives the Palestinians a political status equal to ours and determines that the decisions in the negotiations over the city’s status will be with regard to “the political and religious interest of both sides.” In other words, the division of Jerusalem. To remove any doubt about the Quartet’s intentions, the road map emphasizes, “the government of Israel will reopen Palestinian institutions closed in East Jerusalem.” And of course that includes the notorious Orient House.
A prize for terror: Without any condition for an end to terror first, Israel is ordered to immediately dismantle all the outposts and freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth – another bonus the Palestinians didn’t even get at Oslo.
The road map is a huge prize for terror. In its wake the Palestinians will not only achieve their strategic goals, but will reach a clear conclusion: terror pays. They will get all the concessions we shower on them, organize themselves with money they get from the world and us, rebuild their terror units and attack us at the moment convenient for them. Our experience from the Oslo agreement teaches us that for us, the map bodes a future in which terror is much, much worse.
It’s possible to understand why the European members of the Quartet initiated the road map. They are the ones who cynically attack President Bush, who is fighting the free world’s war against Saddam Hussein; and during the years, with the same cynicism, they turned a blind eye to terrible Palestinian terror and held us responsible for it. They support the Palestinians and Arafat, Saddam’s ally, and demand we concede unceasingly to terror.
Will the Americans accept the European positions? Is it possible the U.S. – which regards terror as the greatest danger to Western civilization, and is led by Bush, who declared war on terror without concessions of negotiations until it is totally eradicated like in Afghanistan and Iraq – will adopt a map saturated with far-reaching concessions that will only encourage terror?
The road map does not express the “Bush vision” as expressed last June. It is not a recipe for peace, but for national disaster. Accepting it will lead to terror and war under far more difficult conditions that we’ve ever known. If Israel wants to live, it must make as clear as possible and as early as possible that without basic preconditions, the map is totally unacceptable.
This piece appeared in HaAretz of April 8, 2003
Dr Uzi Landau is the Israel minister responsible for the secret services and strategic relations with the U.S.