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Saturday Jan. 29, 2011 2:06 PM (EST+7)
ANALYSIS: The US abandons its own road map
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RAMALLAH, January 28 - The release of hundreds of secret documents on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations show how the Obama administration has distanced itself from its own road map to peace, writes Mark Perry in Foreign Policy.
EnlargeU.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, left, gestures to the press as he is greeted by Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, right.(AP/Fadi Arouri, Pool)


Multimedia
al-Jazeera Int: Dining with Terrorists, Fighting Occupation Pt. 1
March 8, 2009 9:03 AM (EST+7)
al-Jazeera Int: Dining with Terrorists, Fighting Occupation Pt. 2.
March 8, 2009 9:34 AM (EST+7)
Al-Jazeera Int: Riz Khan on a new US approach?
April 21, 2010 10:16 AM (EST+7)
Documents
Agreement on Movement and Access
Behind the Settlements: Israel‘s West Bank Settlements Now Sit on the Wrong Side of Zionist History
Do Settlements Matter? An American Perspective
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An Issue and an Audience: A Series of Seminars
Analysis of Palestinian Public Opinion on Politics: Popular Trust in Palestinian Islamist Factions
Foreign Aid and Development in Palestine - Phase I Report
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US foreign policy
Resources
"US Munitions Delivered to Israel," Amnesty International, April 2, 2009
Bush Calls Israeli Withdrawal Plan Progress Toward Peace/Statement - USDOS press release, April 14, 2004
Clinton says Israel has right to defend itself, Reuters, January 27, 2009


Less than two weeks later, at an Oct. 1 meeting at the State Department, Mitchell (joined by David Hale, Mara Rudman, and Jonathan Schwartz -- the department's legal advisor) re-emphasizes Hale's point on Jerusalem -- and, in a discussion about a paper detailing the negotiations' terms of reference, signals that the U.S. will not hold Israel to its Roadmap obligations. "Why is there no reference to the Roadmap?" Erekat asks. Hale responds: "Why do you need that?" Again, Erekat is adamant: "…I won't abandon RM [Roadmap] phase I obligations." Mitchell pushes him: "I want to remind you that we need language that both sides can agree to," he says. But the key moment comes later in the discussion, as Erekat presses Mitchell on accepting language for a terms of reference agreed to by the Bush administration.

    Mitchell: "Again I tell you that President Obama does not accept prior decisions by Bush. Don't use this because it can hurt you. Countries are bound by agreements -- not discussions or statements."

    Erekat: "But this was an agreement with Sec. Rice."

    Schwartz: "It is not legally binding -- not an agreement."

    Erekat: "For God's sake, she said to put it on the record. It was the basis for the maps."

It is during this meeting that it slowly dawns on Erekat that, faced with Israeli intransigence, the Obama administration has abandoned the Bush administration's language on a "terms of reference" (which will frame the negotiations) and on Israel's obligations under the Roadmap. For him, the message is clear: When Israel insists, America retreats. Negotiations over territory will no longer be based on the '67 lines ("They didn't agree to it," Mitchell says), and a moratorium on settlement construction will not include Jerusalem. Erekat can hardly believe what he's hearing: "I want my obligations under the RM -- this is what we have been basing our work on. You are now doing this exercise all over again. A new RM [Roadmap]!" Mitchell is sympathetic, but unmoved. "I understand the frustrations," he says.




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U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, left, gestures to the press as he is greeted by Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, right.(AP/Fadi Arouri, Pool)



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