December 29, 2002
Conflicting reports continue to circulate regarding the new version of the Road Map plan. A copy of the plan’s third draft was recently submitted to Israel, and is expected to be approved by the Quartet sponsors – the U.S., Russia, the European Union, and the UN – sometime after the upcoming Israeli elections a month from now. Some elements of the plan are improvements, from Israel’s standpoint, while others have not changed.
The Road Map plan is a three-stage plan running from Jan. 2003 until 2005, during which a transitional Palestinian state is to be established, and at the end of which the state is to be finalized. The last stage will also feature an international conference to decide the final status of borders, Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the Arab refugees of 1948, and Jerusalem.
On the one hand, several negative points – from Israel’s standpoint – still figure prominently in the Road Map plan. These include a mention of the Saudi initiative, which calls for Israel’s withdrawal from all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza; a strong Quartet role in monitoring the fulfillment of the sides’ obligations; and the demand that Israel take concrete steps in “parallel” with – some say this means “before” – concrete Palestinian anti-terrorism measures. In addition, Israel is still expected to totally freeze all construction in Yesha, including that necessary for natural growth, and to dismantle whatever was built since March 2000.
Israel sees improvements only in a new demand for the Palestinians to collect illegal weapons, and a mention that the first stage of the PA state will not be completely sovereign, but will rather have “attributes of sovereignty.” Some reports have it that the new version also tones down the demand upon Israel to stop its targeted killings of terrorist leaders.