In anticipation of the Bush-Abbas meeting today, Yossi Beilin -- the father of Oslo, Taba and the Geneva Accord -- published his advice to Bush on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He presented three options for Bush:
(1) revise the original dates in the road map and propose the parties reach a permanent status agreement by the end of 2008 --“when he can pass the buck to the next president”;
(2) restate his commitment to the road map “without any real intention of ever fulfilling it”; or
(3) “bravely propose a new political model” that would “shepherd the parties into real talks on a permanent agreement” and “signal to the world that a serious alternative has to be worked out.”
Beilin’s article reminds me of the memoranda Henry Kissinger says he always received at the State Department. They invariably presented three options: nuclear war, unilateral disarmament, and a third option favored by the author of the memo.
Beilin’s “option three” -- a “serious alternative” to be “worked out” -- is actually not a “brave . . . new political model,” but an old one -- the Geneva Accord. In other words, Beilin would like to skip Phase I of the road map (dismantlement of Palestinian terrorist organizations and infrastructure), skip Phase II (Palestinian state with provisional borders), and move right to Phase III (final status negotiations) -- scuttling the Gaza disengagement deal between Bush and Sharon.
So would Mahmoud Abbas. Writing in the Wall Street Journal this morning, says he “remain[s] fully committed to . . . the Road Map” -- and then states he is “ready today to sit down with Prime Minister Sharon to resume bilateral negotiations on a permanent solution to our conflict.” He doesn’t mention anything about dismantling anything.
At today’s joint press conference, Bush did not endorse either Beilin’s brave option (perhaps we should call it the “option of the brave”) or Abbas’s disengenous desire for immediate negotiations (it would be more accurate to say he remains “fully committed to Phase III of the Road Map”). Instead, Bush mentioned only the Phase I obligations of both sides.
Israel has already exceeded its Phase I obligations, by completely dismantling 25 long-standing settlements in Gaza and the West Bank -- 25 more than is required under Phase I of the Road Map (or Phase II or III for that matter) -- and has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to remove the post-March 2001 settlement “outposts” specified in Phase I.
The Palestinian Authority, in contrast, has repeatedly refused to dismantle any terrorist organizations at all, preferring to absorb them all into a government with “one gun” aimed at Israel.
Why would Israel negotiate a “permanent status agreement” with a PA that cannot even meet its obligations under Phase I of the agreement it already signed?