Commentary Magazine


No Compass, No Key, No Direction

The AP reports on Barack Obama’s speech in Dresden:

He said Israel must live up to commitments it made under the so-called “Road Map” peace outline to stop constructing settlements, adding: “I recognize the very difficult politics in Israel of getting that done.”

Forget questions of Israel’s current obligations toward the Road Map. The plan’s Phase I puts the onus first on the Palestinians to call off their campaign of destruction: “In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel.”

If we’re back in Road Map-land, Israel is only obligated to freeze settlement activity as an accompanying measure to an immediate Palestinian cessation of violence. This means, according to the document: “Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.”

Is Obama picking the parts of the Road Map he finds suitably demanding of Israel and leaving the rest? Has he looked at the Road Map? The president himself seems in desperate need of a map if he is ever to find his way back to a decipherable and considered Middle East policy.