The Roadmap is Finished, Mr. Secretary
by Ramzy Baroud
U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell stated in a recent speech that the Roadmap for peace is not finished. Powell’s words defied reality. The U.S. brokered peace initiative was born dead, and whatever ray of hope the document might have possessed, has already been assassinated by Israel, literally.
“We’ve already seen reports on television that say, well, the Roadmap is now finished, or the ceasefire is over, or this is all off track. No, it is not,” Powell breached to a group of Arab and Israeli kids in Maine, gathering for a three-week summer camp.
Setting aside the violations of the Roadmap by Israel, he signaled out the only violent Palestinian retaliation, stating, “we will not be stopped by bombs, we will not be stopped by this kind of violence.”
I cannot confirm, but I have a feeling that Powell’s courageous exclamation won him lasting applause by the kids and their mentors at the camp.
I only wish that Powell’s courage was abundant enough to acknowledge the 856 Israeli violations of the Roadmap. Wouldn’t it have been equally appropriate to exclaim: “we will not be stopped by assassinations, home demolitions, military checkpoints, the building of illegal settlements, the uprooting of trees, the seizure of land and the deteriorating health of most Palestinian children as a result of Israel’s siege and military closures?”
But on the other hand, maybe such a lengthy statement is not as striking as Powell’s original one: “We will not be stopped by bombs.” Indeed, listing Israel’s violations, all 856 of them, is likely to last for hours and is unlikely to win the respected Secretary the children’s applause.
But even my sarcastic remarks are insufficient to convey the frustration felt by many Palestinians, a frustration that gave birth to two Palestinian bombings in Israel, on August 12, after a lull in violence that lasted for weeks.
These are some of the truths that you choose to ignore, Mr. Secretary. The signing of the ceasefire agreement on June 29, Hudna, created a different reality on the ground, since, for the first time in years, Palestinians refrained from attacking Israeli targets, military or otherwise. The Palestinian commitment to the ceasefire and the restraint Palestinian groups exhibited astonished even Palestinians themselves.
But Israel didn’t reciprocate. Land confiscation continued. Bids to build new illegal settlements, commissioned by the Israeli government, were published in Israeli newspapers. Raids on West Bank towns and villages never ceased. Threats, incitement and provocative schemes by Israeli officials – such as attempts by a Knesset member to force his way into al-Aqsa Mosque, which sparked the ongoing uprising in the first place - were a daily practice.
Even more, Mr. Secretary. Sharon made it clear that he cares little about the Palestinian ceasefire. Rather than using the opportunity to rebuild the battered mutual trust between Palestinians and Israelis, he demanded that every Palestinian group be dismantled.
Mr. Secretary, wouldn’t you expect that despite their impressive patience, Palestinians would feel compelled to respond sooner or later? Were you really taken by a surprise when a bomb or more went off in Israel, killing two Israelis on August 12? If you were, then you must’ve missed the news for over a month. Israel’s attacks on the West Bank that killed seven Palestinians and wounded many more, since the signing of the Roadmap, left little doubt that Palestinian groups would soon retaliate.
But you and your government seemed only concerned with the Israeli victims. You uttered not a word to condemn Israel’s killings, rampages and violations of the agreement. Only the bombs of Palestinians seem to echo in your ear. The firepower of the fourth strongest army in the world, used against a civilian population doesn’t seem to bother you a bit.
I hate to be the one who breaks the bad news. Yes, the Roadmap is finished. It was on Israel’s “targeted killing” list from the day it was leaked out to the media. I even contest that the peace initiative was born dead. It was neither fair, nor was it meant to achieve a just peace. It was a political ploy so that President Bush might polish his tattered image, that of a warmonger.
If your government were genuine in its quest for peace, it would’ve exerted equal pressure on Sharon’s government; it would’ve stopped channeling billions of dollars of military aid to Israel, aid that is urgently needed by low-income and poor American families; it would not have applauded Sharon, perceived by millions worldwide as a convicted war criminal.
If you were genuine, Mr. Secretary, you would’ve stood proudly, held your head high and declared that “Israel must also respect international law, and we will see to it that Israel implements every U.N. resolution it snubbed throughout the years.” But you haven’t. You choose to impress a few kids at a summer camp in Maine, by blaming the victim, as you have always done.
You see, Mr. Secretary, the word “honest broker”, a role that your government assumed many years ago, is not merely an honorary title. It is a responsibility; a responsibility that I dare say, you have failed to fulfill.
Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of Palestine Chronicle. His columns are widely distributed and were published in the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and the International Herald Tribune, among others. His book, “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” can be found at www.PalestineBooks.com