The roadmap won't deliver

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 6:24

Some points on the editorial in Solidarity 3/32.
1. The Americans do not intend, as the editorial sees as a possibility, to "force the Israelis to genuinely accept a 'sovereign, independent and viable' Palestinian state". They do not intend to use a great deal of force against Israel. And when they use such language they are not serious and/or do not mean what we mean by such words.

If, for example, the US could get a settlement based on a type of two states solution, in which the Palestinian state was a bantustan, they would no doubt call the entity "sovereign, independent and viable". So would Blair. But they'd be lying.

2. The editorial says, "It is in the US's interest to find a viable solution." No doubt, but they have other, conflicting, interests, including an election in 2004. And their "viable solution" is not ours. What they understand by "viable" is not our "democratic". Their "viable" means "fudge", "cheap", "bureaucratic", "safe".

3. The editorial states, "Israel is not a prop of US interests but a major liability [to the US]." Yes and no. And, besides, that's certainly not how the Perle-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld group sees the situation. They are ideologically committed Israeli chauvinists. And, after 9/11, much of their hostility is directed at the Arab world and at Palestinians in particular as a source of Islamic terrorism. They want the Arab states in the area to become like Israel.

4. Editorial: "If they [the US and the Quartet] do something approximating what we want, it will be done in their own wayÂ… on paper, the proposals could, if implemented, lead to a Jewish-Palestinian and wider Jewish-Arab settlement." Yes, and if I was better looking I could become Miss World.

a. We should bluntly say the US and Sharon will not deliver a two states solution which we could support.

b. We must focus on more than the words of the Road Map. The Road Map sits in a diplomatic context (and is heavily slanted against the Palestinians).

5. So the editorial's comments that, "we should distrust the road mapÂ… but in the name of what should we oppose it?" are off the mark.

If a sympathiser of Solidarity was in the Knesset they ought to vote against it, given the opportunity, in the name of immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Territories and a fully independent Palestinian state alongside Israel (rather than in the name of supporting the suicide bombers, which the editorial poses as the only alternative).

And we should certainly oppose the general set of diplomatic moves and processes of which the Road Map is a central part. Why? Because the "best" possible result from all this is a Palestinian bantustan (assuming the "process" gets that far).

6. We should see the Road Map in the context of the aftermath of Sharon's savage assault on the West Bank in 2002, the destruction of the Palestinian West Bank security forces, and the subsequent occupation of Palestinian towns. Much of what Sharon did ran counter to US policy. He even levelled a US organised security centre. But the US did little to stop the Israelis. (And now we think the US will apply enough pressure to the Israelis to get a fully independent state?)

Sharon's the one who has been shaping the process, not the US. And Sharon is a strongman, ideologically committed to a Greater Israel.

7. The Road Map's publication required the shifting of Arafat and the placing of Abu Mazen as a new Palestinian Prime Minister, plus the appointment of the interior security affairs minister, Mohammad Dahlan.
This isn't our "reform", meaning "cleaning up PA corruption" and "democracy". This is their "reform" meaning "find someone to do what the US wants".

The US government wanted Arafat out of the way. Why? Because he's a tin-pot dictator? Because his friends are corrupt? No. They want rid of Arafat because he refused to sign up to Barak's "generous offer" at Camp David in the summer of 2000, and then was responsible for the second intifada.

And why do the Israelis want Abu Mazen? Because they have good reason to believe he will agree to a rotten deal. And why do they very much want Dahlan? Because Dahlan - when he was chief of internal security in Gaza - led the only major crackdown on the Islamists, working hand-in-hand with the Israeli security services.

8. What's Sharon's policy? To prevaricate, to play for time, to continue to build and create established facts on the ground.

As Adam Keller writes in the last issue of the Other Israel: Sharon never flatly opposes anything. He accepts the Road Map in order to introduce 14 major objections; the Road Map goes through the Israeli cabinet on a minority vote, presumably with a big wink from Sharon. Sharon moves a few tanks around for the US well, he can always put them back later.

What does the US do? Does Bush tell Sharon he has to accept the Road Map in full? No, he promises to take Sharon's objections on board. And Bush is going to deliver a peace "approximating to what we want"? No, of course he's not.

It seems that Sharon's overall policy is for a large Palestinian reservation on the West Bank, perhaps within the walls of the new "security wall" he's erecting. While Sharon is deliberately vague, he's certainly publicly rejected a fully independent state, saying that he sees a Palestinian entity which has "some of the features" of a state.

At Aqaba, Sharon agreed, with the US watching, to a Palestinian state with contiguous territory. But even before he made the speech his office was briefing that by "Palestinian state" Sharon meant "demilitarised", and by "viable" he meant "interim".

9. One of the most striking things about this Road Map is its contrast to the failed Oslo "process". It's a case of first time tragedy, second time farce.

Oslo was despite everything - a stronger document. Its first clause began: "Â… to establish a Palestinian interim self-governmentÂ… for a transitional periodÂ… leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."

242 includes: "the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war" and "affirmed the principle of withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the [1967] war."

The international background in the early 90s was much more favourable. The US was seriously annoyed with Shamir's Likud government over lack of action around the Madrid conference; over settlement building.

They issued a strong statement before Madrid, which included: "[The US] does not recognise Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem or the extension of its municipal boundariesÂ… [The US] opposes activity in the Territories occupied in 1967 which remains an obstacle to peace." They told the Israelis directly that they did not support the continued occupation of the Territories seized in 1967.

In the face of continued settlement building the US Republicans got so angry they for the first time publicly threatened to withhold a $10 billion loan guarantee.

The language of the current Republican administration is nothing like this. The details of their language are different too: last time the talk was of 1967 borders; this time of a "viable state".

In mid-1992 Likud was trounced. Labour took 44 of the 120 seats and with Meretz (and Shas) they formed a government. (Rabin didn't invite the Arab parties to join the government, but the important fact was that Labour plus Meretz plus the Arab parties made 61 seats).

In this respect too the situation was radically different from today. Then the "enlightened" section of the split Israeli-Jewish bourgeoisie was running the show. The biggest capitalists paid for full-page adverts in the daily papers welcoming the deal.

The Israeli right was in disarray. But instead of moving against the settlers, Rabin deported 415 alleged Islamists into Lebanon. It took him over a year to sign Oslo, in September 1993. Labour didn't have the political will to drive through against the substantial minority which would have actively opposed a settlement even failing to go after the settlers when Rabin was shot by a right-winger.

So the "best" of the Israeli ruling class squandered the opportunity to secure peace. Leading Labour on a path to the junior coalition role in the last Sharon-led government; Meretz discredited themselves; and the peace movement's weaknesses were brutally exposed.

Now? Now we have Bush and Sharon. Will they do what Israeli Labour failed to? No.

Mark Osborn

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