Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Peace Process Penalties

The report that the Palestinian Authority is seeking to have Hamas removed from the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist organizations is a reminder of one of the striking aspects of the “peace process” — there is never a penalty for any Palestinian failure to abide by it.

Phase I of the Roadmap required the Palestinians to dismantle their terrorist organizations; the Palestinians elected their premier terrorist group to control their parliament, and the group now rules Gaza. Phase II contemplated a state with provisional borders; the Palestinians have consistently refused even to consider it. Phase III requires final status negotiations based on UN resolutions calling for secure and recognized borders and a withdrawal from an unspecified portion of the territories. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate anything more than a de minimis change to the indefensible 1967 lines and will not recognize a Jewish state even in a final agreement.

When you cannot implement Phase I, will not implement Phase II, and refuse to engage in Phase III, the Roadmap has effectively been discarded without penalty.

For its part, Israel has taken multiple steps without reciprocal Palestinian ones: (1) a freeze on settlement activity (as Israel understood that obligation); (2) dismantlement of 21 longstanding settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank; (3) transfer of Gaza to the PA; (4) dismantlement of numerous roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank; (5) forcible destruction of various settlement outposts; and (6) a 10-month moratorium on construction even within settlements that will remain part of Israel in any conceivable peace agreement.

Israel holds a letter signed by the president of the United States, given in exchange for the Gaza withdrawal, in which the U.S. promised it would prevent “any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan” than the Roadmap (emphasis added). The letter was intended as a U.S. commitment to enforce the penalty implicit in the full name of the Roadmap (“A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution”): absent compliance with Phases I and II, the Palestinians would not obtain a state.

But there was no penalty for failure to abide by the commitment.


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