A Blow at The Roadmap Plan

israel-palestinaThe hope for peace in the Middle East has died again in a new aggravation of the conflict. Terrorist acts and Israeli army raids in Palestinian territories gave way to truce and reports of serious success and even "breakthroughs" in the movement towards peace, only to be stopped by another breach in negotiations.

A new blow at the latest peace settlement plan, the Road Map, was delivered by the decision of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to retire. It is rumoured that Abbas was shocked when late last week thousands of Palestinians demanded his resignation, accusing him of "collaboration with the enemy," meaning Israel, and denouncing him as "Palestinian Karzai." Another reason for Abbas' resignation was his differences with Arafat concerning the demarcation of powers, which lasted the 100 days since Abbas became prime minister.

Not that the implementation of the roadmap plan proceeded without a hitch before the resignation of Abbas. The truce, which the Palestinian armed groups promised to Israel in late June, was violated several times and Israel had not stopped military operations in the Palestinian territory either. But the resignation of Abbas effectively buried the ephemeral hope for peace.

Yasser Arafat offered the post of premier to Parliament Speaker Ahmed Kurei (Abu Ala), who is rumoured to have accepted to offer after getting guarantees of cooperation (including on the peace settlement) from the Middle East Quartet of the USA, Russia, the UN and the EU. It should be remembered that the USA and Israel refuse to negotiate with Arafat and saw Abbas as the only representative of the Palestinian people.

Israel has not yet made any statements concerning its readiness to negotiate with Kurei. The only Israeli reaction was the statement of the prime minister's secretariat, which said that Israel would not negotiate with Yasser Arafat or any of "his appointees." It is not clear if Israel sees Kurei as Arafat's appointee.

It has been said increasingly frequently in Israel in the past two days that Yasser Arafat should be deported from the Palestinian Autonomy. Now that Arafat had "contributed" to the resignation of Abbas, the Americans might "close their eyes" to such Israeli operation. Arafat can be deported nearly automatically in case of a new sanguinary terrorist act.

After Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin was wounded in an Israeli Air Force attack, the leaders of that organisation pledged revenge. RIA Novosti has learned from Israeli colleagues that many “field commanders” of Hamas have been instructed by central command to stage terrorist acts against Israelis at the first opportunity, without coordinating their actions or waiting for orders.

Israel fears that Hamas would organise a major terrorist action, which it had threatened to do long ago. An attempt was made several months ago, when a bomb placed under a tank truck was rendered harmless in the Pi Glilot fuel storage plant in the northern outskirts of Tel Aviv. If it went off, thousands would have died in a catastrophic fireball.

On Monday, September 8, the Israeli radio said that the country's special services had information about plans for 37 terrorist acts.

These developments worry the international mediators, including Russia. They do not want to believe that the roadmap plan has not lived up to their hopes. Quartet representatives are working energetically with all parties to the conflict.

In particular, Andrei Vdovin, special envoy of the Russian Foreign Minister for the Middle East settlement, and Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov have come to the region. Russian diplomats and their foreign colleagues pointed more than once to the dangers of using force to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying that this would not restore peace but would only increase the number of victims. The current task of the mediators is to convince the sides to return to the negotiating table and to refrain from rash actions. Will they succeed? And how long will truce last this time?

Andrei Pravov, RIAN

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World leaders unite with Russia at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
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