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Introduction to the Roadmap essay
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4 years, which is an exceptionally long period in conventional geo-politics, have elapsed since the Quarter proposed a roadmap to peace between Palestine and Israel (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). This document cannot avoid the perspective of hindsight as it attempts to evaluate the merits of this attempt to deliver peace in a particularly sensitive region of the world, which has been ravaged by violence and conflict for decades.
The justification for such retrospection is that thousands of people continue to live in fear or deprivation on either side of the pide, making renewed and persistence efforts to achieve successful resolution a top priority. Besides, the persistent confrontation must be a source of inspiration for all those with ulterior motives in stoking the flames of destructive passions which drive insidious attempts to destabilize the entire civilized world.
Though terrorist strikes, victimization of innocent civilians, and the brute holds of relatively small bands of people over a suffering majority, is not to be countenanced anywhere, there are special and additional geographical reasons to end conflict in Palestine as swiftly as possible. The land has symbolic value for all direct combatants, and a secure homeland for Jews, after centuries of persecution, is an aim which transcends the limits of peace in general.
The roadmap is a striking output of collaboration between the United States and Europe in the cause of world peace (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). Europe has been substantially redefined since World War II, and structures such as that of NATO are limited in their relevance on global terms. Joint initiatives by such a western axis in Iraq and Afghanistan are less inclusive than in the case of the roadmap for peace between Palestine and Israel. It would be an exceptionally valuable victory for the forces of peace and order if this roadmap were to succeed, and would be a historic and enduring contribution of modern civilization for all time.
Since the United Nations has no significant role in negotiating peace in any of the current theaters of conflict, it is significant that the world body is a signatory to the roadmap, and that it has participated in drafting the fine details of the stages and attendant obligations of all parties in the conflict (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). General confidence in the political capabilities and peace-broking potential of the United Nations would get a much needed boost if the roadmap becomes a reality. Peace should be all the more secure in Palestine if the United Nations is an active body in its construction, because all the forces of continuing confrontation are nationally members of this august body.
However, one of the most significant architects of the roadmap, in many crucial aspects, is Russia (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). The plan for peace is the first significant and concrete contribution of this nation has made for the cause of world order, since it came in to existence. The matter has more than symbolic value because some of the disruptive elements in the greater Middle east region may have continuing links with the successive structures of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Marginal elements which seek to further their aims through continuing terrorist strikes must be hard pressed to shore up their material resources and having Russia officially and demonstrably on the side of binding peace moves, gives the roadmap more substance and universal authority.
Finally, the political value of the roadmap lies in its repeated and clear commitment to democratic governance of Palestine, and a generous invitation for its leadership to emerge in freedom from oppression (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). The roadmap is additional and written evidence, should anyone require it, that the legitimacy of Palestine is in no way subordinate or even in confrontation with support for the 1948 birth of Israel.
Admission that the roadmap is yet to work marks the very start of this document. Since passions take time to die down, and since fundamental shifts from hardened positions can take more than 4 years, it is still possible that the roadmap will be used by all the people who fight over land in Palestine. Nevertheless, it is worth making hypotheses as to why it may not have found favor with many quarters as yet, at least not in effective terms, because new insights about its fundamental flaws may emerge.
The concept of 2 States in Palestine in place of how it existed before 1948 is an abiding commitment of the United States and some of its allies. It is an explicit assertion in the roadmap (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). Could this position be a decisive stumbling block? The roadmap makes no mention of the arguments against the establishment of a sovereign and theocratic state within the historically unitary land of Palestine. While there are strong moral and political compulsions for such unquestioning support for the cause of Israel, it may be expedient even now to dialogue on this fundamental issue with the Palestinians. Such discourse need never be at the cost of the integrity of Israel, but should keep the door open for reparations however unjustified they may seem today, for the 1948 action of extraneously imposing a new national entity on a unified territory.
A second failure in the roadmap to take cognizance of stated positions of elements said to back defiant terrorist strikes against Israel, relates to the impositions of sanctions against Palestine, and the instances of retaliatory and presumptive armed actions by the Israelis. The roadmap does cover the conditional lifting of sanctions, and to the need for Palestinian authorities to move freely within their territory, but in doing so tacitly supports such actions by Israel (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). This is in line with the oft stated position of the United States and some of its European allies with respect to Israel’s rights to defend itself, but is probably not fully representative of the United Nations General Assembly or the Russian positions. This dilutes the authenticity of the roadmap as an output of the Quartet. Worse, the proposal probably loses unbiased value in the eyes of key parties to the conflict.
Other relatively minor or extreme drawbacks in the roadmap in terms of its conflict resolution potentials are the absence of any attempts to allow marginal elements behind the terrorist attacks to participate in the forging of a settlement, and the lack of specifics with respect to building good faith between adversaries and intermediaries (Office of the Spokesman, 2003). Israeli good faith in avoiding retaliation and pre-emptive strikes, for example, finds no place in the document. Such lapses detract from sincerity in terms of searching for peace, and must appear to detractors of the Israelis as a form of debilitating discrimination by the Quartet.
Retrospective criticism of the roadmap should be tempered with its distinctive merits, especially since it continues to offer the best and most concrete chances of ending strife even today. The document is unusually sound in details (Office of the Spokesman, 2003), leaving little room for ambiguity if the Palestinians and the Israelis were to surrender their hardened positions, and genuinely try to use the roadmap literally in their own best interests. The stages are conceived with intervals and end points that are both remarkably clear and eminently feasible. It is practical in its approach to the situation on the ground, and relatively simple for the Palestinians to implement even without material resources.
Simultaneously, the roadmap is factual in its presentation of the benefits of peace and should therefore find favor amongst the majority of common peoples on both sides of the pide. Similar documents related to other theaters of conflict, do not measure up to the professional qualities of the roadmap, even though most of them lack the broad perspectives of the Quartet.
The immediate implications of success for the roadmap are ends to the horrible suffering of the children, women, and other hapless Palestinian masses. It will also end uncertainty for Israelis who live on shifting territorial borders. The long term consequences include the kind of prosperity for Palestinians which the most advanced Arabs and Muslims enjoy anywhere, and a telling blow for the forces of evil which threaten world peace.
Fundamental changes can still rescue the roadmap from ultimate failure. The plan should include decisive elements which lurk behind the scenes, and have greater indigenous participation in the formulation of prescriptions. The role of the Quartet should shift to process control of the dialogue mechanism rather than tell people who was once one, as to how they should resolve their modern and hopefully transient differences. The United Nations should be clearly and visibly in charge
Office of the Spokesman, 2003, A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, U.S. Department of State web site, retrieved June 2007
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