Stop terrorism — for real — first

Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter spoke to an AIPAC conference in Philadelphia yesterday:

Dichter further stated that the US-sponsored Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, “must enable both sides – Israel and the Palestinians, with the assistance of the US, the Quartet and the moderate Arab nations – to finally start implementing the first stage of the road map.”

The minister added that the Palestinians must establish law enforcement bodies such as police forces, courts and “real prisons”, before negotiations on a final status agreement can begin. Without such bodies, Dichter said, any declarations by the Palestinians have no merit. — Jerusalem Post

Let’s remind ourselves of what the Roadmap actually said. Here are some excerpts from Phase 1:

  • Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
  • Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
  • GOI [Government of Israel] takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attack on civilians; confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet Work Plan.
  • Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.
  • GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
  • Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements). — MideastWeb

Neither the Roadmap nor the Mitchell Report on which it’s based specifies the order in which these conditions must be met. When the Roadmap was adopted, however, Israel agreed to it with 14 reservations. Israel did not object to freezing settlement activity, but first two points include the following:

These [Palestinian Authority security] organizations will engage in genuine prevention of terror and violence through arrests, interrogations, prevention and the enforcement of the legal groundwork for investigations, prosecution and punishment…

Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement. Progress between phases will come only following the full implementation of the preceding phase. Attention will be paid not to timelines, but to performance benchmarks. (Timelines will serve only as reference points).

Needless to say, neither side has implemented Phase 1 of the Roadmap. It is Israel’s position, which Dichter is simply restating, that terrorist violence against Israel has to stop as a first condition, before anything else.

This is not unreasonable, unless you believe the Palestinian contention that Israel’s defensive activities are equivalent to Palestinian terrorism.

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