Today I have read two depressing Economist editorials about the “Road Map“. The first was in my subscription copy, written after the suicide bombing in Jerusalem, but before the assassination of Ismail Abu Shanab. It stated drily that things were worse than they looked. The second is online now. I don’t think a subscription is needed for the latter. And now things look almost as bad as they are. My friends on one “side” (Amber, Hind, Wiqqi…) might be shocked to find they agree with more of the contents of these articles than they usually would expect. My friends on the other (Claire, Judith, Adam…) might find they agree too. There’s no common ground in the “Holy” Land. Is there any here?
Update: Maoi says that second link doesn’t work for non-subscribers. Bugger.
Update: By the power of “fair use”, I bring you these extracts…
From the first editorial:
In Iraq, the case for optimism is that most Iraqis are liable to withhold their support from the jihadis because most of them are still willing to believe that the Americans mean it when they say they intend eventually to leave. In Palestine, for all the fine words of George Bush and the “road map” about the imminence of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, almost no Palestinians expect Israel voluntarily to give up the West Bank and Gaza to make this possible.Whose fault is that?
The blame game in Palestine has revolved in circles both vicious and tedious for more than a century. In this present round, neither side emerges with credit. Israel complains that although the road map calls plainly on the Palestinian Authority to disarm and dismantle the terrorist groups, it has failed to make any serious effort to do so. The Palestinians retort that this would plunge them into a civil war at a time when Israel gives no serious sign of being willing to freeze, let alone dismantle, the Jewish settlements that have spread through the occupied territories since 1967 and obstruct the emergence of a free Palestine.
This, alas, is not just a matter of Israel failing to get its message across. Many members of Ariel Sharon’s ruling coalition oppose the idea of an independent Palestine and say frankly that they will do whatever they can to thwart it. America needs to make it plain that these Israelis will not get their way. It is right to denounce outrages like the one this week in Jerusalem. But if America is to build a new Middle East it must give the Palestinians the same hope as the Iraqis that foreign military occupation really will soon come to an end.
From the second:
Though moderates in Mr Sharons cabinet had hoped that the bus bombing might finally prompt Mr Abbas to take on the militants, and that a return to violence might be averted, Mr Sharon was under great pressure from hardliners for an immediate Israeli counter-strike. Avigdor Lieberman, the minister of transport and head of the right-wing National Union Party, went on the radio to demand the bombing of Mr Arafats headquarters in Ramallah, with everyone in it. He charged that Mr Arafat radiates encouragement, instructions and winks to the terrorists to perpetrate their crimes and that it was pointless expecting the more moderate Mr Abbas to take the kind of action that was needed. Mr Sharon himself was quoted as saying to Mr Mofaz They are just animals, when he was told of the bus bombing. Strong words, perhaps, but Israeli anger will hardly have been soothed by hearing that hundreds of Palestinians in a refugee camp near the Lebanese city of Tripoli poured on to the streets, firing guns in the air and handing out sweets to celebrate the explosion.
The road map is intended to bring an end to the Palestinian intifada and lead to an independent Palestinian state by 2005. Now, its chances of success are beginning to look decidedly thin. The ceasefire was a shaky affair right from the start. It seemed clear that, unless all sides made the most of the lull in violence, and pushed forward with the peace plan, they risked a return to the cycle of attacks and counter-attacks, in which it would be all but impossible to make any progress. Alas, that is exactly what has happened. And, once again, it is not at all clear how the road map can be saved.