The Road Map has been awakened from its moribund state and bandied about a lot lately, particularly in the wire service reports about the upcoming mideast peace conference in Annapolis. For instance, the AP writes:
Israel continues to expand many of the 122 settlements in the West Bank, where 267,500 Israelis lived as of last month, according to government statistics.
Peace Now, an Israeli settlement-watchdog group, issued a report Wednesday saying building is going on in 88 of the settlements, though most of the work is in the areas Israel hopes to retain in a peace deal.
The Palestinians said Monday that they received assurances from Washington that Israel would meet its short-term obligations under the “road map,” a U.S.-backed peace plan being revived in hopes of boosting confidence between the two sides ahead of a peace conference later this month.
The plan’s initial stage called for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction and dismantle dozens of settlement outposts scattered across the territory. But the road map foundered after its introduction four years ago, with each side accusing the other of not meeting obligations.
And that is all you get about Palestinian obligations until you get to this paragraph:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this week that Israel is willing to meet its road map obligations. He also urged the Palestinians to fulfill their commitment under the plan to crack down on militant groups that stage attacks on Israelis.
The story, mind you, is all about settlements. The headline alone is biased: “Israeli Settlements Burden Peace Push.” Funny how rockets are falling on Sderot nearly every day, and that’s not burdening the “peace push.” Terrorists are trying to kill Israelis every day, but that’s not burderning the “peace push.”
And it’s interesting also how the Road Map is being applied only to Israel, not to the Palestinians. Because the Road Map was absolutely explicit about the Palestinians’ responsibility to end violence, incitement, and terrorism.
Phase I: Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions — Present to May 2003
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. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.
At the outset of Phase I:
- Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israelâ€™s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.
- Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.
Note that there is nothing ambiguous about the Road Map. The Palestinians must end violence and incitement. There is no exception clause for “resistance.” Done. Finis. End. The thing is, while you hear constant reproaches towards Israel for not freezing settlement construction, you hear not a word about ending Palestinian violence, terrorism, and incitement. Why is that, exactly? When did the Palestinian obligations cease to be obligations? If Condi Rice is being honest, why is she not demanding a cessation of all Palestinian violence and incitement? Why does she not demand the Palestinians stop teaching their children to hate the Jews? Why is she only demanding that Israel meet the obligations of the Road Map, while insisting only on “confidence-building measures” by the Palestinians?
I have no real answer for that, other than the standard answer: Apparently, the Palestinians have no obligations to do anything but demand a homeland, a “Palestine” that never existed on the land that was the Jewish homeland for thousands of years—except, according to Palestinians, that never happened, either.
You have to wonder why it is that only Israel is held up to any kind of Road Map standard, and only Israel is criticized for violations of a document that was never approved by the Israeli government, and is, quite frankly, about as non-binding as a document can get—because it was perfectly clear that in order for the Road Map to work, both sides had to implement responsibilities simultaneously.
A quick look around Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI show that the Palestinians have never ceased teaching their children to hate Jews. Incitement has never ended. Nor has terrorism, nor have the rockets.
Why, exactly, is only Israel expected to fulfill her obligations? The only answer I can see is the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. Or perhaps that other reason, the one that makes the world so much more difficult for Jews: The Exception Clause.