Roadmap To Nowhere




I

t
has long been understood that one of the major effects of propaganda
is to divest political terms of their substantive meaning. One of
the best examples of this effect is the benign-sounding phrase “the
peace process.” In the context of the illegal Israeli occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza strip it might seem more appropriate to
come up with another term—perhaps the “occupation process”
or the “diversion process” might be more apt. 


The
latest stage in this process is the so-called Roadmap to Peace,
which announces its goal of a “final and comprehensive settlement
of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005.” 


As
part of the occupation process the Roadmap is an expression of longstanding
Israeli policy towards the Occupied Territories that aims to ensure
Israeli control over the land and resources of the territories while
transferring the expensive job of population control to a collaborationist
Palestinian authority. 


Ignoring
the illegality of the occupation and the daily suffering and humiliation
endured by the Palestinians, the Roadmap re-conceptualizes the conflict
as one caused by terrorism. Each of the phases of the agreement
places responsibility on the Palestinians to ensure Israel’s
security. (There are no reciprocal obligations on the Israelis despite
the fact that the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties of
the conflict have been Palestinian.) In the first phase, the Palestinians
are asked to rebuild the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority
whose role will be to suppress Palestinian resistance (in all forms,
it seems, despite the legality of armed resistance to an occupying
power). As in the past, the PA will be supervised by the CIA, with
training by the Jordanian and Egyptian security forces (who know
some- thing about repressing discontented populations). 


The
Roadmap does not require the dismantling of Israeli settlements
despite their illegality under Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions,
but, instead, calls for a settlement freeze and the dismantling
of recently built outposts that will have no effect on the major
areas of illegal settlements, which already create a crippling discontinuity
between Palestinian areas, destroying the viability of a Palestinian
state. 


The
second phase of the Roadmap calls for the creation of “an independent
Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty.”
There is no explanation of what is meant by “attributes of
sovereignty,” but, given past Israeli policy, it is likely
to mean that the Palestinian Authority will gain some control over
civil matters within the territories while Israel retains control
over the economy, resources, and overarching security matters. In
the words of Labor dove Yitzhak Rabin when talking about the Roadmap’s
predecessor, the Oslo Accords, this will be “a Palestinian
entity, less than a state that runs the life of Pales- tinians.” 


As
with Oslo, the Roadmap does not call for international monitoring
of the territories. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords the
Israeli Labor government launched a massive settlement expansion
program—doubling the number of Israeli settlers living in the
West Bank and Gaza between 1994 and 2000. In the absence of effective
monitoring we can expect similar policies from the Israeli government
this time around in keeping with the understanding of the efficacy
of the appearance of dip- lomacy while creating “facts on the
ground.” 


The
continued existence of the illegal settlements means that the proposed
Palestinian state will be comprised of three enclaves cut off from
one another inside the West Bank, (in addition to the Gaza strip).
The southern enclave will consist of the Hebron-Bethlehem area,
which will be cut off from the central enclave of the Ramallah area
by the settlements and the connecting settler roads. The Ramallah
enclave will, in turn, be cut off from the northern enclave of Jenin
and Nablus by the massive settlement bloc of Ariel-El-Shiloh. 


As
well as failing to deal with the settlements and the right of return
for Palestinian refugees, the Roadmap makes no mention of the 25-foot-high
“separation” wall being built on stolen Palestinian land
that will entirely surround the three Palestinian enclaves as well
as annexing more than 300,000 Israeli settlers into Israel proper. 


Thankfully,
support for such a plan is very slim among Palestinians. (The current
Intifada was a reaction to the humiliating terms of the Oslo Accords,
which the Roadmap effectively reiterates.) Abu Mazen, the new Palestinian
prime minister and preferred negotiating partner of Israel, the
U.S., and the EU has a popularity rating of about 3 percent among
Palestinians, according to recent polls. His beachside mansion in
Gaza has been repeatedly attacked by Palestinian demonstrators.
The Roadmap has been rejected by a significant section of Fatah
along with the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine),
as well as Islamic Jihad and Hamas. 


While
Palestinian opposition is strong, there is a great deal of support
for the Roadmap in the United States, the EU countries, and many
Israeli politicians who recognize it as a way of crushing the popular
Intifada in the name of “the peace process.” It remains
to be seen whether the Palestinian people will one day come to accept
the “freedom” of an autonomous con- centration camp. 







 







Alex
Doherty is a student at York University, England, a member of York
Students against the War, and a founder of Free Society, a campus
anarchist group.