מרכז ישראל/פלסטין למחקר ולמידע

مركز اسرائيل فلسطين للأبحاث و المعلومات

Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information



Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Secretary of State Colin Powell
Department of State
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Is the Road Map dead?  The answer is very much dependent on what you and your colleagues from the Quartet decide at your meeting this weekend in Geneva. It has been said that political diplomacy is an art of keeping something alive long after it has died. Is that what the intention is regarding the Road Map?  If it is, it would be completely understandable, given the small likelihood that the current Israeli and Palestinian leadership will actually implement what they have committed to undertake. On the other hand, since the Road Map has provided the only real opportunity for rescuing Israel and Palestine from the three years of continued and unending cycles of violence and revenge, it would be worthwhile to make one last effort to seriously resuscitate the process.

The U.S. Government has always stated that the parties must be the ones who have primary responsibility and that no one can “do it” for them or in their place.  In principle that is correct.  However, the current reality is that without the forceful assistance of a third party, nothing will happen. The Oslo process created 26 joint Israeli-Palestinian bodies for cooperation and coordination, including very detailed and complex mechanisms for security cooperation. The creation of all of these bodies was based on a great deal of optimism – which might have been warranted at that time. But why repeat that model now when we have so much experience in its failure?

Throughout the past three years of violence only one of the 26 joint bodies continued to function. This was the body created for cooperation and coordination on water issues. Originally constituted as a “joint water committee”, the US Government, through the good offices of USAID in Tel Aviv under the guiding hand of Mr. Alvin Newman, decided to convert the joint water committee into a tri-lateral water committee.  The US convened the meetings, coordinated the agenda, wrote the protocol, assisted in cooperation, and thereby ensured the flow of water and the continued cooperation between the parties all throughout the period. The tri-lateral water committee was even successful of getting the parties to issue two signed political statements “keeping water out of the intifada”. This model worked, why not learn from it?

Over the past year, we have convened an Israeli-Palestinian-International working group on issues of verification, monitoring, compliance, and other third party roles. One month ago we completed our recommendations regarding Phase I of the Road Map.  We were supposed to meet with Ambassador Wolf today to make a formal presentation of our recommendations, but because of the new eruption of violence our meeting has been postponed until next week.  Now we have learned that at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Permanent Members of the Security Council this weekend in Geneva, there is a great likelihood that the Quartet Principals will convene.

We urge and appeal to you to look at our recommendations seriously.  We have not exaggerated in our approach – this is not another call for international forces, or a transitional administration or a trusteeship. We have basically taken the US approach of a limited international involvement led by the US but based on the “tri-lateral rational” that has proven itself in the field of water and we believe from studying in-depth the lessons of the bi-lateral cooperation of the Oslo era, this is the way to save the Road Map and to help to ensure a more successful peace process. We are completely sure that without this kind of third party role, the Road Map will die and no diplomatic hocus-pocus will keep it alive.

The enclosed documents briefly describe our model.  We would be pleased to meet with you to present this in greater depth.

Yours sincerely,

Gershon Baskin, Ph.D. and Zakaria al Qaq, Ph.D.