Terje Rød-Larsen, “Explaining the Road Map”
TERJE RØD-LARSEN, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, shares his views as one of the architects of the Quartet sponsored “Road Map”. Point by point, Roed-Larsen discusses the key mechanisms to the Road Map that will lead to success in an attempt to answer the often asked question of “Why will it (the Road Map) succeed where all previous attempts have failed?” Based upon a presentation to Peace Now & the Peace Coalition in Tel Aviv, June 9, 2003.
Explaining the Road Map
These days I find inspiration by simply walking down a street in Tel Aviv or Ramallah. People really do want peace. They are ready. And I think that most of them, in their hearts, know what needs to be done. But the dichotomy is always there – the splitting of the world into two, Israel or Palestine. It comes with the almost inevitable question – “Larsen,” they ask, “what are you, pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian?”
For me, the answer is as simple as it is truthful. I am both. For it is possible to be in favor of the desires, dreams and aspirations of both peoples.
I am pro-Israeli. I steadfastly believe in Israel’s right to exist. No people have more deserved a state of their own than the Jews, who have long suffered at the hands – and within the states – of others. Israelis have had a state for over two generations – and it is very correct when people today say that the future of the Jewish state now hangs in the balance.
Then, I add, I am also pro-Palestinian. I steadfastly believe in the right of the Palestinian people to their own state. No people today more deserve this than the Palestinians, long suffering under the rule of others, including the Israeli occupation of today. The Palestinians now need a state – without it, this conflicted region may never find lasting peace. In other words, the occupation has to end.
This vision of lasting peace we all know as the two-state solution. Justice, security and peace between the two peoples is best achieved, as I see it, by creating two sovereign states west of the Jordan River, Israel and Palestine.
Last Chance for a Two-State Solution
And that is what the Road Map is all about. It is, quite simply the latest – and I dare say perhaps the last chance for the two-state solution. The Road Map is probably one of the least read, most misunderstood but most important documents in modern peace diplomacy. I will attempt to explain a little bit about it – and I also urge you to read it yourself.
As one of the architects of the Road Map, I am often asked: Why will it succeed where all previous attempts have failed? As I see it, there are three key reasons.
First, the Road Map builds on the achievements of Oslo, but it has also learned the lessons of the Oslo peace efforts and more recent endeavors to end the current crisis. Second, we have unprecedented backing and commitment from the parties, the region and the rest of the world.
Third, we know exactly what needs to be done to get this process moving immediately.
Length, Breadth and Depth
What is different about the Road Map? Perhaps it’s best to think of it in spatial terms: The plan has the length, breadth and depth that are missing from previous initiatives.
The length is embodied in the stated end goal: the end of occupation and two universally recognized states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. No other peace plan put forward by the key international players has, since 1948, had these goals specifically defined. The Oslo Accords of 1993 were also a road map, but they did not define where the journey would end. The road map of 2003 does that.
The breadth is found in the other tracks, involving both Syria and Lebanon, which will help forge a comprehensive regional peace. This is a plan the region needs, not just Israelis and Palestinians, a plan that could finally bring the entire Arab-Israeli conflict to an end.
The depth is anchored in the so-called “monitoring mechanism” – a US – led system for ensuring that the parties comply with their commitment as outlined in the Road Map. It is an organizing principle lacking in all other plans. Calibrated by performance benchmarks, the mechanism will monitor progress by the parties in security, political, and humanitarian fields, ensuring that progress happens in all areas in parallel and with reciprocity.
Active International Backing
As the summits in Aqaba and Sharm al-Sheikh show, broad and active international backing has been essential to getting the Road Map off the ground. International support acknowledges that in the current environment of hostility and mistrust, Israelis and Palestinians cannot forge a peace agreement alone. Never before have key regional and international players promoted a peace initiative with such deep dedication and strong vigor.
The diplomatic Quartet of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN developed the plan over a nine-month period. It explicitly includes last year’s Arab League initiative calling for full relations with Israel as part of a peace treaty. President Bush’s timely and strongly committed engagement is now leading the way.
Terror and Settlements Must Stop
But for this diplomatic breakthrough to succeed, certain concrete things must happen now. Terror must end – for it is this terror that tells Israelis that Palestinians do not want to live in peace. And let me say directly and concretely that the Road Map is designed to once and for all end this despicable and deeply troubling practice – these morally repugnant acts that have so bloodied this land. It must not and cannot continue.
Settlement building must stop – for it is the presence and continued expansion of settlements that tell Palestinians that Israel does not want to end the occupation. And the misery of ordinary Palestinians must abate – peace is not possible with innocents dying almost daily, more than half the population below the poverty line, and close to half the workforce without jobs.
On security, we need simultaneous action. The defining element here is a workable security plan that allows the Palestinian Authority to rebuild its shattered security services into a unified and reliable force. By combating terror and collecting illegal weapons, this force should send a clear message that the PA is now determined to extend its authority over all Palestine.
On settlements, Israel is about to start removing West Bank outposts, which were erected in defiance of both international and Israeli law. This will send a clear message to the Palestinians that Israel is serious about the peace process and in ensuring that a viable and independent Palestinian state is to emerge from this process.
On the daily suffering of Palestinian civilians, Israel must ease as soon as possible movement restrictions across the West Bank and Gaza, leading to a full military withdrawal to the lines of September 2000. To consolidate popular support for the Road Map, the Palestinian people must experience fundamental changes and once again be in charge of their lives. This is essential. With a workable security plan in place, Israel should remove as quickly as possible checkpoints and roadblocks, which symbolize occupation, and produce suffering and humiliation for the Palestinian people.
The next step for the Road Map is for the American-led monitoring team to start working with the Quartet. We at the UN and the other members of the Quartet look forward to working with them.
Let me also say the Road Map is far from a perfect document. It does not meet all of the needs of the parties. Of course, no plan is ideal. The Road Map is a compromise reached by the authors – the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, through a long and broad consultation process. In the heated environment of the Middle East conflict, with trust between the parties virtually non-existent, it is easy to argue that any steps on the path to peace carry with them potential hazards. This may be true. It is also true that the absence of a negotiated settlement has led neither to peace nor security nor prosperity for the peoples of the Middle East.
A Heavy Burden on All of Us
Let us have no illusions about it — the path to peace along the Road Map will be difficult and strewn with obstacles. The alternative is a continued cycle of violence and economic and social dislocation. Quite simply, the Road Map remains the best prospect for achieving the vision of two States – a secure and prosperous Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestine – living side-by-side in peace and security.
The Road Map endeavors to bring peace through the establishment of two recognized, secure and prosperous states, Israel and Palestine. And if we now let this opportunity slip from our grasp, if we pass this up, there may not be another chance.
This puts a very heavy burden on all of us because it is precisely of this reason that we, now more than ever, have to work for a just and peaceful solution, as designed by the Road Map, with more strength and stamina than ever. We must never surrender in this peaceful battle for peace. (CGNS)
Document Sources: United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
Subject: Peace process, Road Map
Publication Date: 24/07/2003