27 May 2003

Road map 'a long way to nowhere
Palestinians are sceptical of the US and Israel's declared desire for Middle East peace, writes Chris McGreal.

Palestinians are not convinced that George Bush is committed to his own plan for peace, despite the days of choreographed diplomacy that culminated in the vote by Ariel Sharon's cabinet to accept the US-led "road map" to end the Middle East conflict.

The Palestinians are privately more certain than ever that Mr Sharon is also not committed to the plan, but know that the only person who can force his hand is Mr Bush.

In the loosely worded deal hammered out in Washington at the end of last week, the White House promised to "address" Israeli objections to the road map, and Mr Sharon delivered his cabinet's lukewarm "acceptance" of the process without any commitment to its goal of a viable, independent Palestinian state.

The sad truth is that the Israeli and Palestinian governments are unequal partners. The pattern after Oslo was for Israel to impose further conditions unilaterally while simultaneously degrading Palestinian capacity to carry out any conditions. There is nothing so far to indicate that Sharon plans anything different this time or that Bush has any understanding of the reasons previous efforts have failed.

No comments: