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Debate: Road Map to Middle East Peace

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Is the “road map” to Middle East peace sound?

Background and context

The refugee crisis created by the war following the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 was further exacerbated by Israel’s capture in the 1967 war of the West Bank and Gaza. Consecutive Israeli governments supported Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, thus forcing the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to protect the settlers and preventing any withdrawal, to “secure and recognized boundaries” as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967). In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, founded 1964) Chief and Fatah Party head Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, the first of many peace accords, which established the Palestinian Authority, with Arafat at its head. This ended IDF civil rule over the majority of the Palestinians but continued the occupation of most of the territory, and left the Palestinians in isolated enclaves. The peace process collapsed after the Camp David negotiations in July 2000, and the Palestinians began a violent uprising (“Intifada”) in September 2000 against the occupation. Over 800 Israelis and 2000 Palestinians have been killed in the Intifada, during which suicide bombings, road shootings and (in some places) missile and mortar attacks have become commonplace for the Israelis, and retaliatory searches, air strikes, raids and curfews have become routine for the Palestinians. Terrorism has severely harmed the Israeli economy, destroying tourism and discouraging investment, and IDF actions have destroyed the economic and governmental infrastructure in the PA, allowing the terror groups to operate as local governors and forcing most Palestinians into severe poverty. In June 2002, US President Bush outlined his vision of Middle East peace, calling on the Palestinians to elect new leaders, as part of the process towards a Palestinian state. In March 2003, the PA chose Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), a longtime Fatah member, to be the Palestinian Prime Minister. In April 2003, the “Quartet” (the US, UN, EU and Russia) released the long-awaited “road map”, the plan created in order to implement Bush’s vision and restart the Peace Process.

Contents

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Argument #1

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Yes

The Intifada has destroyed the economies of both Israel and the PA. The economic prosperity that peace could bring would improve the quality of life of everyone in the region. President Bush’s vision of a Middle East trade bloc, which would benefit the entire world, is dependent on a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Economic prosperity is in the interests of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, and both must work towards such a goal. The Road Map is the best way to ensure this goal, by requiring the PA to implement economic and democratic reforms, providing monetary aid and capital to rebuild the economy, and brokering a negotiated final settlement.

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No

Negotiations now would be a reward for terrorism and the PA/PLO regime which has supported terrorism for decades. The Camp David offer was the last chance for this regime, and if the Palestinians want peace, they must completely replace their leadership, by demanding democratic elections and electing new peace-seeking leaders. Giving a state to the current regime would be a concession to terrorism and mass-murder, which is grossly immoral, and would set a dangerous precedent for the future. The US is being hypocritical with its double standard towards terrorism; especially now, the world needs a zero-tolerance policy for terrorism, and the Road Map prevents such a consistent policy.

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Argument #2

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Yes

Continued Israeli occupation of the territories will guarantee that the cycle of violence will go on forever. There is no military solution to the crisis other than ending the cause of the terrorism – the occupation – through a peaceful settlement. As long as the occupation continues, there is no chance for peace in the region, and both nations will suffer needlessly for years into the future. Israel will never be able to end the terrorism without ending the occupation, as its actions of the past three years prove. The Road Map understands this, and calls for an end to violence from both sides.

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No

The occupation did not cause Islamic or Palestinian terrorism. Since the first Zionist immigrants came to the region, Arab terrorist groups have killed Jewish civilians. The PLO was founded and began terrorist operations in 1964, three years before the occupation began. The goal of the PLO has always been to destroy the state of Israel, and Palestinian statehood is just a step to that goal. Ending the occupation will not end the terrorism – it will only encourage it and allow it to grow. A Palestinian state will be a terrorist state, a threat to the region and the entire world.

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Argument #3

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Yes

The desire of each side to achieve “justice”, by destroying the aspirations of the other side, will never succeed and will only breed further bloodshed. The Palestinian fight for self-determination is analogous to Zionism’s fight for the same – both nations desire the same land and for similar reasons – and it is hypocritical for either side to reject the identical aspirations of the other. It is possible for both nations to achieve their goals, but to do this such a goal must be desired by the leadership of both sides. Mutual recognition is one of the basic principles of the Road Map.

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No

There is no justice in the Road Map. It does not punish Israel for the decades of brutal occupation of the Palestinians, but rather gives it an easy exit from the crises it created and the bloodshed it caused. Likewise, Arafat and the heads of the Palestinian terrorist organizations should be put on trial for war crimes; instead, the Road Map legitimizes their struggle and lets them off the hook completely. The Road Map evades all the moral issues in the conflict, and because of this, the plan will backfire from justified public anger on both sides, and will never succeed.

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Argument #4

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Yes

The refugee crisis created by the 1948 war, and worsened by the 1967 war, has gone on longer than any refugee crisis in the 20th century. It is time to dismantle the refugee camps and allow the refugees to resettle. The only way to do this is by establishing a Palestinian state that will have the mandate to resettle its own people, with territory to make that possible. The Palestinians are tired of their refugee status and the terrible standard of living it entails, and the Israelis are sick of occupying the Palestinians and continuing the situation. Both sides recognize that peace is in everyone’s interest. A practical plan is now needed to implement this desire; the Road Map is exactly what is needed.

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No

The Road Map makes the same mistakes as the Oslo process, and will fail for the same reasons. It allows a corrupt dictatorship to rule the Palestinians, thus eliminating any incentive that an elected government would have to bring peace. It postpones the most difficult issues to the last stage, the final settlement negotiations, thus making no guarantee that all the steps taken by both sides will lead to anything in the end. It ignores the issue of the Palestinian Right of Return, thus allowing Israel to ignore it, and guaranteeing no solution to the refugee crisis. In short, the failure of the previous peace process led to the current Intifada; peace requires a new approach, which the Road Map does not provide.

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Argument #5

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Yes

Without assistance and pressure from outside powers, a peaceful resolution will never be achieved. The Road Map is backed by the “Quartet” of the US, UN, EU and Russia – all of which are accepted as fair brokers by both sides. This backing gives the Road Map tremendous legitimacy internationally, and it would be a tragic mistake for Israel or the PA to reject the opportunity of their assistance. In addition, the Quartet recognizes that the conflict is not an isolated one, but one that affects the entire world. The global significance of Middle Eastern peace is a strong incentive for the entire world to ensure that the Road Map succeeds.

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No

Israel will try to undermine the process throughout, as the Israeli cabinet has proved with its list of “reservations” to the Road Map: It rejects the Palestinian right of return, thus rejecting the basis of their struggle and preventing any mutual recognition; it calls for the total demilitarization of the future Palestinian state, thus making an impossible demand of the Palestinians, who know that demilitarization leaves them vulnerable to more Israeli aggression. Israel is using the Road Map to make Palestinians defenceless and in a weaker position, to occupy more territory and destroy any chance for peace. Peace requires a new Israeli regime, one that truly seeks peace, unlike the current one.

See also

External links and resources

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