We have commented a number of times on the Bush administration’s abandonment of the original principles of its “road map” for peace in the Middle East. Yesterday, in a moment of candor, Condoleezza Rice explained what is going on:
Miss Rice also described, with greater clarity than either the president or National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley have so far, the Bush administration’s strategy on the peace process.
The “road map” for peace, conceived in 2002 by Mr. Bush, had become a hindrance to the peace process, because the first requirement was that the Palestinians stop terrorist attacks.
As a result, every time there was a terrorist bombing, the peace process fell apart and went back to square one. Neither side ever began discussing the “core issues”: the freezing of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the rights of Palestinian refugees to return, the outline of Israel’s border and the future of Jerusalem.
“The reason that we haven’t really been able to move forward on the peace process for a number of years is that we were stuck in the sequentiality of the road map. So you had to do the first phase of the road map before you moved on to the third phase of the road map, which was the actual negotiations of final status,” Miss Rice said.
Miss Rice said that what the U.S.-hosted November peace summit in Annapolis did was “break that tight sequentiality … to say, you can do these in parallel, you can do road-map obligations and negotiation for the final status in parallel.”
“You don’t want people to get hung up on settlement activity or the fact that the Palestinians haven’t fully been able to deal with the terrorist infrastructure and prevent that from moving forward on the negotiations,” she said.
The problem with this approach is that the “core issues” identified by Secretary Rice are not, in fact, the core issues. There is actually only one core issue: the fact that most Palestinians do not accept Israel’s right to exist or the right of Jews to live in the region, and therefore support those who are constantly trying to kill them. But for the Palestinians’ genocidal dreams, all other “issues” would have been resolved many years ago.
The Bush administration, like administrations before it, is now in the position of the man in the old joke who, late at night, is inspecting the ground around a street light. Another man comes by and asks what he is doing; he says that he is looking for his lost watch. The man asks, “Is this where you dropped it?” The first man answers “No, I dropped it over there, but the light is better here.”
The original road map was founded on a recognition that the essential precondition to peace between Palestinians and Israelis is a cessation of Palestinian terrorism. But that proved impossible to achieve, and the Bush administration, like others before it, learned that it is much easier to lean on Israel to make concessions. The lesson of history, however, is that such concessions will not bring peace.
UPDATE: Caroline Glick casts a sobering eye over the landscape in which President Bush’s current visit to Israel takes place.
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