Roadmap for Peace

The Roadmap for peace or road map for peace was a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East: the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. The principles of the plan, originally drafted by U.S. Foreign Service Officer Donald Blome, were first outlined by U.S. President George W. Bush in a speech on 24 June 2002, in which he called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace.[1] A draft version from the Bush administration was published as early as 14 November 2002. The final text was released on 30 April 2003. The process reached a deadlock early in phase I and the plan was never implemented.


The Second Intifada, which started in September 2000, showed an escalation of mutual violence. In March 2002, Israel launched a major military operation in the West Bank, dubbed Operation Defensive Shield. Israel re-established its full exclusive military control over the West Bank, including the Area's A and B, which were destined to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of the Oslo II Accord. The army largely destroyed Arafat's Compound in Ramallah, with the main offices of the PA, and placed President Yasser Arafat under siege.

US, EU, UN and Russia, who became the Quartet on the Middle East, tried to save the "peace process" with a new plan. This happened against the background of George W. Bush's War on Terror, which started after the 11 September 2001 attacks and dominated the international politics.

Development of the plan

The Roadmap is based on a speech of U.S. President George W. Bush on 24 June 2002. A first EU-draft, proposed in September 2002, was put aside in favour of a US-draft.[2] The draft version from the Bush administration was published as early as 14 November 2002.[3] The EU pushed the Quartet to present the final text on 20 December 2002, but failed, due to Israeli opposition.[4] Sharon pledged support for the Roadmap, provided the Palestinian state was restricted to 42% of the West Bank and 70% of the Gaza strip; and under full Israeli control.[5] Israel ruled out the division of Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return and requested more than 100 changes to the Roadmap.[6] Only after Sharon's re-election, the nomination of a Palestinian prime minister and the installation of a new Palestinian government the plan was finally published on 30 April 2003.[2][7] In a statement, Bush made clear that the plan was developed by the United States, not by the Quartet.[2]

The plan

Described as a "performance-based and goal-driven roadmap", the Roadmap is built on goals without going into details. It may be summarized as: end the violence; halt settlement activity; reform Palestinian institutions; accept Israel’s right to exist; establish a viable, sovereign Palestinian state; and reach a final settlement on all issues by 2005.[2] However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations the Quartet put into the plan.

The Roadmap is composed of three phases: I. Satisfy the preconditions for a Palestinian state; II. Creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders; III. Negotiations on a permanent status agreement, recognition of a Palestinian state with permanent borders and end of conflict.

  • Phase I (finished as early as May 2003): Mutual recognition; end to Palestinian violence and terrorism; Palestinian political-institutional reform; Palestinian elections; Israeli withdrawal to the positions of 28 September 2000 (begin of Second Intifada; the plan does not speak of any further withdrawal). Israeli refrain from deportations, attacks on civilians, demolition and destruction, etc.; reopen Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem; improve humanitarian situation, full implementaton Bertini report, easing movement; freeze on settlement expansion and dismantling of settlement outposts built since 2001.
  • Phase II (June–December 2003): International Conference to support Palestinian economic recovery and launch a process, leading to establishment of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders; revival of multilateral engagement on issues including regional water resources, environment, economic development, refugees, and arms control issues; Arab states restore pre-intifada links to Israel (trade offices, etc.).
  • Phase III (2004–2005): second international conference; permanent status agreement and end of conflict; agreement on final borders, clarification of the highly controversial question of the fate of Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; Arab state to agree to peace deals with Israel.

NB: A provisional state in Phase II would thus include all existing settlements and exclude East-Jerusalem. Although the plan was presented with considerable delay, the original timetable was not adapted.

Sharon's rejection of a settlement freeze

On May 12, 2003 it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had stated that a settlement freeze would be "impossible" due to the need for settlers to build new houses and start families. Ariel Sharon asked then US Secretary of State Colin Powell "What do you want, for a pregnant woman to have an abortion just because she is a settler?".[8]

Israel's conditions

While the Palestinians accepted the Roadmap, the Israeli government with its right wing ministers opposed.[9] Sharon could only accept the plan with "some artful language", thus the Government accepted "the steps set out in the Roadmap", rather than the Roadmap itself.[10]

On 25 May 2003, the Prime Minister's Cabinet approved the Roadmap with 14 reservations. [11] These included:


  • The Palestinians will dismantle the (PA's) security organizations and reform the structures;
  • The Palestinians must cease violence and incitement and educate for peace;
  • The Palestinians must complete the dismantling of Hamas and other militant groups and their infrastructure, and collect and destroy all illegal weapons;
  • No progress to Phase II before all above-mentioned conditions are fullfilled;
  • (unlike the Palestinians) Israel is not obliged to cease violence and incitement against the other party, pursuant to the Roadmap.

2. No progress to the next phase before complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement. No timelines for carryout the Roadmap.

3. Replacement and reform of the current leadership in the Palestinian Authority (including Yasser Arafat). Otherwise no progress to Phase II.

4. The process will be monitored by the United States (not the Quartet).

5. The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations. The provisional state will be demilitarized, with provisional borders and "certain aspects of sovereignty", and subjected to Israeli control of the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, plus its airspace and electromagnetic spectrum (radio, television, internet, radar, etc.).

6. Declaration of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, as well as the waiver of any right of return of refugees to Israel.

9. Prior to the final settlement talks (that is in the permanent status negotiations, Phase III), no discussions about settlements, Jerusalem and borders. Only about a settlement freeze and illegal outposts.

10. No reference other than the key provisions of U.N. Resolution 242 and 338. No reference to other peace initiatives (it is unclear if the Oslo-accords are included).

12. Withdrawal to the September 2000 lines will be conditional.

13. Israel is not bound to the Bertini Report in respect to improve Palestinian humanitarian issues.

Validity of the reservations

The Roadmap was offered for acceptance "as it is", without room for adaptions.[10] The Government statement of 25 May 2003, however, made clear that Israel regarded its reservations part of the Roadmap:[12]

"The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister's announcement, and resolves that all of Israel's comments, as addressed in the Administration's statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap."

Furthermore the Government definitely ruled out the right of return:[12]

"The Government of Israel further clarifies that, both during and subsequent to the political process, the resolution of the issue of the refugees will not include their entry into or settlement within the State of Israel."

A US official, however, said that US commitment did not mean, that all of Israel's demands would be met. The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called the Israeli reservations to the map "not part of the map and ... not relevant to its implementation, and ... not acceptable to the Palestinians."[12]

Hostilities after publication

From 1 to 17 May 2003, 43 Palestinian civilians were killed;[13] from 5 to 17 May, 4 Israeli civilians.[14] After a suicide attack on 18 May, which killed 6 Israeli's, the hostilities went on with more deaths. In May, the army carried out 35 punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes.[15]


President Bush visited the Middle East from 2 to 4 June 2003 for two summits in an attempt to push the Roadmap as part of a seven-day overseas trip through Europe and Russia. On 2 June, Israel freed about 100 Palestinian prisoners before the first summit in Egypt as a sign of goodwill. The list consisted largely of administrative detainees who were due to be released. Subsequent prisoner releases involved members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the government insisted that those slated for release did not have Israeli "blood on their hands." In Egypt on 3 June, President Bush met with the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain, and with Prime Minister Abbas. The Arab leaders announced their support for the Roadmap and promised to work on cutting off funding to terrorist groups. On 4 June, Bush headed to Jordan to meet directly with Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.

Start and deadlock

The first step on the Roadmap was the appointment of the first-ever Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen,) by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The United States and Israel demanded that Arafat be neutralized or sidelined in the Roadmap process, claiming that he had not done enough to stop Palestinian attacks against Israelis while in charge. The United States refused to release the Roadmap until a Palestinian prime minister was in place. Abbas was appointed on 19 March 2003, clearing the way for the release of the Roadmap's details on 30 April 2003.

On 27 May 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated that the "occupation" of Palestinian territories was "a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians" and "can't continue endlessly." Sharon's phraseology prompted shock from many in Israel, leading to a clarification that by "occupation," Sharon meant control of millions of Palestinian lives rather than actual physical occupation of land.

After the summits

After Bush left the region violence resumed, threatening to derail the Roadmap plan.[16]


On 29 June 2003, a tentative unilateral cease-fire ("hudna" in Arabic) was declared by the Palestinian Authority and four major Palestinian groups.[17][18] Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas announced a joint three-month cease-fire, while Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction declared a six-month truce. The cease-fire was later joined by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One condition of maintaining the truce was a demand for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, which was not part of the Roadmap process. Israel held some 5480 prisoners (not held on criminal counts), a substantial part of them illegally deported to prisons in Israel.[19] This coincided with a visit to the region by United States National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

On 1 July 2003, in Jerusalem, Sharon and Abbas held a first-ever ceremonial opening to peace talks, televised live in both Arabic and Hebrew. Both leaders said the violence had gone on too long and that they were committed to the Roadmap for peace. On 2 July, Israeli troops pulled out of Bethlehem and transferred control to Palestinian security forces. The plan required that Palestinian police take over from withdrawing Israeli forces and stop any anti-Israeli militant attacks. At the same time, the U.S. announced a $30 million aid package to the Palestinian Authority to help rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Israeli incursions.

The hudna quickly collapsed. On 3 July, the IDF killed 2 civilians.[13] In an IDF operation to arrest Hamas members, gunfight broke out in which an Israeli soldier and two alleged Hamas militants were killed. A new cycle of violence happened. Hamas responded with a suicide bombing on 12 August, killing one Israeli civilian. Fatah claimed responsibility for a second suicide bombing on 12 August, killing another Israeli citizen. Despite this de facto violation of the hudna, Hamas stated that the cease-fire would continue.

Hostilities then escalated. The Israeli army killed Islamic Jihad's Muhammad Seeder on 14 August 2003; the Jerusalem bus 2 massacre by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on 19 August, killed 23 and wounded 136 people. Israel reacted causing large-scale destruction to Palestinian population centres.[20] On 21 August, Israel assassinated Hamas' political leader Ismail Abu Shanab. Shanab, who supported a two-state solution, strongly opposed suicide bombings and tried to uphold the ceasefire, was regarded as one of Hamas’s more moderate and pragmatic leaders.[21][22] Along with Shanab, three other civilians (his two bodyguards and a 74 year-old man) were killed. The following days it continued with a range of further Israeli killing-attacks.[13][20] The assassinations of Seeder and Shanab resulted in Hamas calling off the ceasefire with Israel.[21] International criticism of Israel increased because Israel was widely believed to be unwilling to respect the truce.[21]


In November 2003, the United Nations Security Council endorsed the Roadmap in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1515 which called for an end to all violence including "terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction". By the end of 2003, the Palestinian Authority had not prevented Palestinian terrorism, and Israel had neither withdrawn from Palestinian areas occupied since 28 September 2000, nor frozen settlement expansion. Thus the requirements of Phase I of the Roadmap were not fulfilled, and the Roadmap has not continued further. It eventually reached deadlock.

Shifting US-position

Until 2004, the official US-position had been that Israel, in principle, should return to the 1949 armistice lines (the Green Line) and that changes to these lines must be mutually agreed to in final-status negotiations. Israel's ongoing settlement activities were criticised, because they prejudiced final-status negotiations.

On 14 April 2004, President George W. Bush wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in which he took some distance from this principle. Bush said "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949 ... It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes "that reflect these realities".[23][24]

Regarding the Palestinian refugees Bush said that "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than in Israel."[23][24]

The letter was widely seen as a triumph for Sharon, since Bush seemed to accept Israel's policy of facts on the ground, the view that the passage of time and new realities (Israeli settlements in the West Bank) obviated Israel's obligation to withdraw more or less to the 1967 lines in return for peace, recognition and security.[25]

In a 26 May 2005 joint press conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the White House Rose Garden, President Bush said: "Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations."[26]

This statement was widely seen as a triumph for Abbas, as many commentators view it as contradictory to his 14 April 2004 letter.[27] The Bush administration has made no attempts to clarify any perceived discrepancies between the two statements.

British involvement

Until 2003, British intelligence officer Alastair Crooke played an important role as mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. He realized ceasefires and truces until he was recalled in August 2003.[28]

According to Crooke, the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair played an important role in the developement of a 2003 MI6 plan for a wide-ranging crackdown on Hamas. It was a "Palestinian Security Plan", drawn up to implement Phase I of the Roadmap.[29][30] The aim was to stop the armed resistance of Hamas, including suicide bombing and the firing of Qassam rockets on South Israel.

The plan also mentioned the Israeli requirements of the Roadmap: "an end to 'deportations, attacks on civilians, confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property ... (and) destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure'. To these we would add assassinations and construction of the wall/fence within the Occupied Territories." The document mentions the complaints of the international community about the IDF who destroyed new resources they provided to the Palestinian police force.[30]

In March 2005, MI6 sent a detailed follow-up of the Palestinian Security Plan. This report notes that the NSF (Palestinian National Security Forces), who were assumed to prevent terror, were denied by the Israelis equipment, ammunition en freedom of movement.[31]

After Tony Blair sent British Intelligence officers to the Gaza Strip, in August 2005, to persuade Palestinian terrorists to call a halt to their suicide bomb attacks against Israel, Israel sent a sharp protest to the UK, because it opposed dealing with Hamas.[32]

When in March 2006 Hamas won the parliamentary elections, Israel and the international community did not accept a role for the political arm of Hamas.[33][34] Many Hamas leaders and politicians were detained by Israel, or assassinated by targeted killing.[35] The MI6 plan failed as Hamas took control of Gaza in the Fatah–Hamas battle, June 2007.

The Roadmap in the peace process

In the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on 8 February 2005, Israelis and Palestinians reconfirmed their commitment to the Roadmap. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, which meant the removal of all Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip. The Disengagement plan was already suggested by Sharon on 18 December 2003 at the Fourth Herzliya Conference,[36] and announced in his April 2004 letter to Bush, stating that "there exists no Palestinian partner with whom to advance peacefully toward a settlement".[23]

At the Annapolis Conference on 27 November 2007, both parties again expressed their commitment to the Roadmap. Despite intensive negotiations in the following months, the parties did not reach an agreement. The negotiations ended in September 2008 without result. When the Olmert government started a major assault on Gaza in December 2008, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, the "peace proces" completely collapsed.

After the terms of President Bush were ended in January 2009, the Roadmap fell into the back-ground. The main issues remained: the enduring occupation of the Palestinian territories, the on-going expansion of the settlements, and the final borders of Israel.

See also


External links

  • Full text of the "road map" - 30 April 2003

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