On the road to a two-state solution?
The internationally accepted
framework for negotiations between
This Roadmap requires
(a) “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.
(b) “GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001”, and
(c) “Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)”.
During the eight years of peace
Michael Tarazy, a legal advisor to
the PLO, once said: “It’s like you and I are negotiating over a piece of
pizza. “How much of the pizza do I get? And how much do you get? And while we
are negotiating it, you are eating it”.
It should be emphasised, of course,
that all of
“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” 
Despite this, around 500,000 Jewish
settlers now live in the West Bank, including
Roadmap internationally accepted
On 25 May 2003, the Israeli Government, headed by Ariel Sharon, approved the Roadmap by 12 votes to 7, but entered 14 reservations . However, these reservations did not relate to points (a), (b) or (c). The PLO accepted the roadmap without reservations.
The Roadmap – in its original form,
without reference to
“Calls on the parties to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap in cooperation with the Quartet and to achieve the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security;” 
Thus, the Roadmap is the
internationally accepted framework for negotiations between
In reality, no Israeli Government has ever articulated a clear and unequivocal commitment to the establishment of “an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state”, which is the most basic aspect of the Roadmap.
Although the governments led by Ariel Sharon and by his successor, Ehud Olmert, were prepared to say they accepted a Palestinian state as the goal of negotiations, there was never much doubt that the “state” they envisaged would be, to a considerable extent, under Israeli control, and there was grave doubt about whether they envisaged this “state” ever coming into existence.
On the contrary, according to Peace Now, “1,257 new structures were built in settlements during 2008, compared to 800 in 2007, an increase of 57 percent” . Furthermore, according to Peace Now, building more than doubled in settlement outposts, 261 structures being built in 2008, compared to 98 the year before. Under the roadmap, outposts erected since March 2001 should have been dismantled, not expanded.
The Obama administration has stated
clearly that negotiations must be based on the Roadmap, and that
“The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
“That is in
“At the same time,
Israelis must acknowledge that just as
Earlier on 27 May 2009, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was even more emphatic about settlement activity:
“With respect to settlements, the President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position.” 
Initially, Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, resolutely
refused to utter the phrase “Palestinian state”. However, under pressure from Obama, he
allowed it to pass his lips in his speech on 14 June 2009 ,
but he made it crystal clear that the “state” he envisaged would be neither
independent, viable or sovereign, as required by the Roadmap. The security needs of
army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to
prevent weapons smuggling into the territory - real monitoring, and not what
Significantly, he never used the
phrase “two-state solution”, understandably so, since that would grant the
Palestinian “state” he proposed the same status as
In addition, he unequivocally rejected the Roadmap pre-condition that the Israeli government must freeze all settlement activity, saying:
“We have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements. But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere.”
This is generally referred to as
allowing for the “natural growth” of settlements. Family expansion could, of course, be catered
for by families moving elsewhere, for instance, to
In an interesting article in the Washington Post on 14 June 2000 , Daniel Kurtzer, who was the US Ambassador to Israel form 2001 to 2005, pointed out that the phrase “including natural growth of settlements” in the 2001 Mitchell Report and the 2003 Roadmap had been inserted precisely because Israel had been abusing the concept of “natural growth” as a justification for expanding settlements.
The main point of Kurtzer’s article
was to rebut charges from
It remains to be seen if the
Netanyahu made no mention of the
Roadmap in his speech. Understandably
so, since he cannot accept it as the basis for negotiations, given the
pre-conditions contained within it. But,
mindful of the fact that
Strangely, at his inauguration as Foreign Minister on 1 April 2009, Avigdor Lieberman, stated explicitly that he accepts the Roadmap. Here’s what he said:
“… we would honor all the
agreements and all the undertakings of previous governments. The continuity of
government is respected in
That is bizarre, given that the
The EU has also been firm in its
“The Council reiterates its commitment to the two-state solution with an independent, democratic, contiguous and
viable Palestinian state, comprising the West Bank and
“The European Union calls on the government of Israel to commit unequivocally to the two-state solution and welcomes the initial step, following the Israeli policy review, announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of commitment to a peace that would include a Palestinian state . It urges both parties to take immediate steps to resume peace negotiations, respecting previous agreements and understandings. To that effect, the Council also calls on both parties to implement their obligations under the Roadmap.
“The Council remains
deeply concerned by settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in
Now, all that’s necessary is for the
EU to apply political and economic pressure on
It could begin by initiating a
formal inquiry about whether
Upgrade on hold
The 9th Meeting of the EU-Israel Association
Council took place on 15 June 2009.
Foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, represented
Over the last few months, in the
For example, an article by EU
External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner was published in
Ha’aretz on 17 April 2009. This was
entitled The offer on the table,
referring to the upgrade. In essence,
this made the upgrade conditional on
still stands. For it to be taken up and pursued, however, we will need to be
sure that we are working with the same terms of reference. For Europeans, the
context of EU Israel relations remains the same: work for a prosperous, secure
and peaceful Middle East, with an independent, viable and democratic
Palestinian state living peacefully beside
“The EU, as
In the light of this, it wasn’t a great surprise when the upgrade wasn’t put into effect at the Association Council meeting on 15 June 2009.
(The implementation of the upgrade proposals requires the development and approval of a new Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), but such an Action Plan has not been drawn up and approved. The formal position is that the EU-Israel relations will continue to be governed by the existing Action Plan, which expired in April 2009.)
The formal EU position on the upgrade at the Council meeting was as follows:
“The upgrade needs also
to be, and to be seen, in the context of the broad range of our common
interests and objectives. These notably include the resolution of the
Israel-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the two-state
solution, the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability in the
Unlike the Commissioner’s formulation
in Ha’aretz, this doesn’t go as far as making the upgrade conditional on
After the meeting, statements by
some EU foreign ministers give grounds for hope that the upgrade will not go ahead
without some movement by
For example, French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, was reported as being “sceptical that Mr Netanyahu's speech was a genuine endorsement of a viable state for the Palestinians”. He went on: “Without a Palestinian state, there is no chance for peace in the region” .
Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, said: “The fact that he uttered the word state is a small step forward”, adding: “Whether what he mentioned can be defined as a state is a subject of some debate”.
Franco Frattini, the former EU
commissioner and current foreign minister of
20 June 2009