The Road Map for Peace is an energetic, optimistic plan for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. It was conceived by an international “Quartet” of superpowers: the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). The earliest version of the Road Map for Peace was first outlined by President George W. Bush in 2002, when he proposed an independent, democratic Palestinian state that peacefully coexisted with Israel. The plan was proposed in the hope of securing a home for Palestinian refugees, bringing democracy, and of course, stability to the Middle East.
When the Quartet formally met to lay out the Road Map for Peace, they did so in three main phases, with each phase based on the performance and progress met in the previous one. Initially, there were some basic requirements that had to be met before the Road Map could be initiated. One was that the Palestinian Authority must make reforms toward a democratic system of government, and most importantly, eschew terrorism and violence as a means of manipulation and retribution. In addition, Israel was required to accept and support Palestine as a state and to leave settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The three phrases are as follows:
Phase One:(planned completion date: May 2003)
- End of violence by Palestinians, or those affiliated with the liberation movement.
- Palestinians must hold democratic elections.
- Israel should withdraw from Gaza Strip and West Bank settlements.
Phase Two:(planned completion date: June-December 2003) In this phase, an International conference will be held to start the rebuilding of Palestine by discussing its economy, establishing Israeli-Arab links, setting borders, and rebuilding infrastructure.
Phase Three:(planned completion date: 2004/2005) In this phase, the second International Conference will finalize borders, decide on who “gets” Jerusalem, and arrangements will be made on how to handle Palestinian refugees.
The Road Map for Peace was widely accepted in both the West and the Middle East, and started energetically with concessions on both sides. On 19 March 2003, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat appointed Palestine’s first Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas. This was a big step, because most western governments believed that Arafat had been a major roadblock to peace. Israel in turn released several Palestinian political prisoners. Unfortunately, the spirit of cooperation would not last long—violence resumed until a cease fire was declared on 29 June 2003.
By 1 July 2003, the Road Map for Peace was “on” again when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Abbas spoke out together in support of the Road Map. Israel withdrew from Bethlehem, and the U.S. promised to give $30 million US Dollars (USD) to help Palestine rebuild.
With Arafat’s death in 2004, western leaders were hopeful that peace would move forward, unencumbered by old hostilities and allegiances. In February 2005, a summit was held with the Palestinians, Egypt and Jordan, where they reiterated their support of the Road Map. Sharon’s momentum was ended when in January 2006, he was incapacitated by a serious stroke. In his place, Ehud Olmert pledged to carry on his vision and resume work on achieving the Road Map’s goals.
A major obstruction was encountered in 2006 when Hamas (an Islamic Resistance Movement) won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament. Because the United States and Israel have stated that they would not deal with Hamas due to their pledge to destroy Israel, it seems that the Road Map for Peace has stalled. Hostilities continued through 2006 between Israeli forces and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip. As of 2007, not even phase one of the Road Map for Peace has been completed.