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Old 05-26-2003, 01:03 PM   #1
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Israel/Palestine Road Map

What do y'all think of the proposed 'road map' for peace between Israel and Palestine?

Here's some info on it:
BBC News Q&A page:

Full text of the roadmap:

And some of the latest news:

(All the links are from the BBC website because they're generally fairly impartial - at least as much as any news agency is.)

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Old 05-27-2003, 12:21 AM   #2
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Sharon: ‘Occupation’ Bad For Us

May 26, 2003 4:39 pm US/Central

Ariel Sharon told his stunned country Monday he was determined to reach a peace deal and end 36 years of rule over the Palestinians — the strongest sign yet that the prime minister's endorsement of a Mideast peace plan may have been more than a ploy to deflect international pressure.

The speech marked the first time the veteran hawk, who had long argued that a Palestinian state would pose a mortal danger to Israel, publicly used the word “occupation” to refer to Israel's presence in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"You may not like the word, but to maintain 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation, is terrible for Israel, the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy,” he told angry hawks in his Likud Party in remarks broadcast on Israel Radio. The term “occupation” is anathema to the Israeli right, which believes Israel has a legitimate claim to the West Bank and Gaza for religious and security reasons.

Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and Gaza for a state.

On Sunday, Sharon's Cabinet conditionally approved the “road map,” a three-phase plane that begins with a halt to violence and envisages a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2005. The vote was 12-7 with four abstentions.

Answering party critics on Monday, Sharon said he was committed to finding a political solution to the conflict.

“This can't continue endlessly. Do you want to remain forever in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus?” he asked his party's lawmakers, listing main West Bank towns.

Officials began preparing Monday for a meeting in the coming days between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, their second in 10 days. Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting would take place Wednesday evening at Sharon's office.

That could clear the way for a summit with U.S. President George W. Bush as early as next week, possibly in Jordan.

Sharon faced withering criticism from Likud members, who charged that the road map was slanted in favor of the Palestinians and endangers Israel.

Yuval Steinitz, a leading Likud member, said Sharon ignored the negative aspects of the plan. “I think that Arik (Sharon) is very uncomfortable with the road map,” Steinitz told The Associated Press, but Sharon was unable to withstand international pressure to endorse it.

In his remarks Monday, Sharon left himself a way out of going forward with the plan.

“What will happen if Palestinian terror continues? Nothing. Nothing will happen. The Palestinians will get nothing,” he told the lawmakers.

Critics have said Sharon's long-held condition that all violence must stop before peace moves is unrealistic and guarantees a continuing stalemate.

In violence Monday, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian teenager and another surrendered after infiltrating from Gaza, the military said. They were unarmed and apparently looking for work. In a village near the West Bank town of Qalqiliya, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was killed during an exchange of gunfire with Israeli troops, Israel Radio reported.

The Cabinet's approval of the road map plan, coupled with a list of conditions, was carefully worded to allow Israel to wriggle out from under some of the measures that are toughest for Sharon's government to accept.

Palestinians, who already accepted the plan, insisted it must be implemented unchanged. Some officials said Sharon's new visage is just a ploy.

The remarks, following Sharon's reluctant embrace of the peace plan, pointed to a stunning turnaround for the hawkish ex-general known as “the bulldozer” for ramming West Bank settlement programs through successive Cabinets.

He once argued that giving up even 13 percent of the West Bank and Gaza would endanger Israel's security.

Some believe he has truly changed his beliefs. “Often he says to me, 'Ten years ago I wouldn't do this or say this,” political analyst Shimon Shiffer wrote in the daily Yediot Ahronot. “He reached the realization that at the age of 75, he's the man that finds himself at this intersection, that he and only he can do this.”

Others said Sharon had never been a true ideologue of the right.

“Sharon is a pragmatist,” said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv's Bar Ilan University. “He is capable of change when circumstances require.”

Liberal lawmaker Yossi Sarid argued Sharon was trying to keep his intentions murky so the U.S. government could assume he was committed to the plan, while his hawkish allies could assume he was just making a tactical move to end U.S. pressure, while believing the plan will fail before Israel has to make any hard choices.

“Ariel Sharon likes to walk in the fog, because then no one knows where he is headed,” Sarid wrote in the Yediot daily.
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