Long-Awaited Road Map Presented To Israelis, Palestinians
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer presented a long-awaited plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday.
President Bush's so-called "road map" was handed over to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas by members of the Quartet late Wednesday afternoon (local time).
Bush has promised for weeks to make public the document - written by the U.S.-led Quartet, including the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - as soon as a new Palestinian government led by Abbas was installed.
Just hours after the Abbas and his cabinet were sworn into office, the document was handed to the Israelis in Jerusalem and then to the Palestinians in Ramallah.
According to reports, the document outlines three phases. In the first phase, the Palestinians are to fight against terror, while Israel is to withdraw to positions it maintained prior to the outbreak of violence in September 2000, evacuate illegal outposts and freeze settlement activity.
The second phase establishes a provisional Palestinian state by the end of this year. Israel is to withdraw further and give territorial continuity to the Palestinians, while Arab States - Jordan and Egypt - promise to resume the same relations they had with Israel prior to the violence.
In the third phase, a permanent settlement will be established by 2005, including permanent borders for a Palestinian state and a solution for millions of Palestinian refugees.
The basics of the "road map" have already been known for some months. But exactly how it will be implemented is the big question. Israelis and Palestinians seem to have opposing views.
There has been a good deal of discussion over the last few months as to whether or not changes in the "road map" would be allowed. Washington has said that while the "road map" is final as is, comments would be received on its implementation.
A senior government source said on Wednesday that Israel wants to see Abbas "consolidating his position and begin immediately working very hard to put an end to terror."
The next step, said the source who asked not to be named, would be a visit to Israel and the PA by Secretary of State Colin Powell sometime next week, at which point he will hear Israeli and Palestinian comments and ideas about the implementation. Then there will likely be a meeting between Sharon and Abbas or their representatives.
Israel's idea about implementation is that it be performance-based, proceed in a sequential order and not be limited by a timetable, the government source said. Israel wants to be able to check terrorism off the list before moving on to the next step, he added.
Abbas charged on Tuesday that Israel wanted to alter the "road map."
"Israel is attempting to alter the road map as we know it by entering into complicated negotiations and imposing its own interpretation," Abbas said. "We will not negotiate the road map. The road map must be implemented."
He also addressed the Israelis in a speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council saying that the Palestinians wanted "a lasting peace with you, achieved through negotiations."
The Palestinians want Israel to make concurrent moves and concessions alongside their fight against terror. They would also like to see international monitors on the ground and want to stick to a timetable regardless of the results in the fight against terrorism.