by Ana Ruth Jerozolimski
(IPS) JERUSALEM --
a week after the summit that brought President George W. Bush and prime ministers Ariel Sharon of Israel and Abu Mazen of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) together in Jordan, a new outburst of violence has made it clear just how uncertain is the future of the "roadmap" drafted by the "Quartet:" the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia.
The three-phase plan envisions a comprehensive peace agreement and Palestinian statehood by 2005, and requires both sides to take a series of parallel steps over the next two years.
The first would be the dismantling of the Jewish settlements, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories, and the adoption by the PNA of measures to bring the suicide attacks on Israel to a halt.
But the almost festive atmosphere surrounding the June 4 summit in Aqaba, Jordan could not conceal the fears, doubts and mistrust that separate the two sides involved in the conflict, and which flared up again with this week's attacks.
Wednesday's suicide bombing of a bus here, fatal to 16, came 24 hours after an Israeli attempt to assassinate Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, the second-in-command of the Hamas Islamic resistance movement. Although Rantisi was only wounded, three Palestinians, including a woman and her eight-year-old daughter, were killed, and 25 bystanders were injured.
The Israeli army then killed three other civilians who were standing near a Hamas group that was firing rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot.
On Sunday, two Israeli civilians and five soldiers had been killed in assaults by radical Palestinian groups, near Jerusalem and in Gaza and Hebron.
"I believe the rockets fired at Rantisi were also aimed at Prime Minister Mazen, and at Bush, whose initiative it was to hold the Aqaba summit, and who wanted to restart the peace process," Fares Kadura, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told IPS.
Like Mazen, Kadura belongs to PNA President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.
"An assault of that magnitude is an attack on the road map and on all of the efforts currently under way. The Israeli public should understand that the missiles fired by the Israelis were also aimed at buses, cafes and restaurants in Israel," he asserted.
Kadura predicted that the attempt to assassinate Rantisi would trigger further attacks on Israeli objectives, and added that it could only be supposed that everyone involved knew that beforehand.
But Ehud Yatom, a member of the governing Likud Party in the Israeli parliament who is opposed to the road map, commented to IPS -- referring to the failed attempt on Rantisi's life -- that "It's good that they tried, but it's bad that they didn't succeed."
According to Yatom, Rantisi did not deserve to survive the attack because "those who incite and organize terrorism should know that they will be killed."
The adoption of the road map is a divisive issue not only between Israel and the Palestinians, but between those on each side who support it and those who see it as dangerous.
Kadura, aware of his government's limitations, warned that "an end to the violence can only be brought about through internal Palestinian dialogue, with Hamas and other groups."
"We can harbor hope, because we are at the start of a process of dialogue and negotiations. But there is also room for fear, because the day-to-day suffering of the Palestinian people has been ignored, and it looks like the leaders believe it is possible to wait for a solution, but that is not true," he added.
Yatom himself saw no room for hope. "I am opposed to the roadmap, because I believe it should have been more balanced," he said.
"If we accept the idea of a Palestinian state, they should accept a Jewish state for the Jewish people. If we are talking about dismantling settlements, they should put an end to terrorism," he warned.
"We should clearly state, now, that Jerusalem will be the indivisible capital of Israel and that the Palestinian refugees will have no right to return to what is today the state of Israel," argued Yatom. "The questions that lie at the core of the conflict were not adequately dealt with."
The conservative Israeli lawmaker said one of the basic problems with the plan is that "nothing was learned from the errors of the Oslo peace process" that led to an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in 1994.
He added that "We have not defeated the intifadah" -- the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.
But Kadura warned that "the Israeli leaders always talk about painful concessions, instead of saying at any time that they will renounce the occupation without pain, to give hope to a people who have been suffering for so many years, alongside the Israeli people themselves.
"That is their big mistake," he maintained.
"The Israeli leaders will have to explain to their people that the day an independent Palestinian state is created will be the real independence day of the Israeli state. When the leaders reach that point, hope will be born, and confidence and trust between the two peoples can be restored," said Kadura.
Yatom, however, saw no reason for hope in the creation of a Palestinian state: "I would not call it a state, because that includes elements that I would not want them to have, that I see as dangerous, like an army."
In Yatom's view, the Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday attacks demonstrate, "unfortunately, that the real voice of Palestine is that of Arafat and not Abu Mazen, who does understand that terrorism will not defeat us."
Nevertheless, Mazen's "final objective is, in my opinion, the same as Arafat's: for Israel to be something temporary," he asserted.
Kadura said Mazen has taken a brave stance by "taking risks and saying tough things to the people." The Palestinian public "was not accustomed to hearing anyone speak the truth with such a frank, sincere, direct tone."
But the Palestinian lawmaker does not believe that the intifadah that began in September 2000 has been an error. "Not in the least. We are a people under occupation, and occupation must always be fought. But Israeli civilians, as well as the settlers, should be left out" of the attacks, he insisted.
June 12, 2003 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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