FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis ShareCONTACT: B.J. Almond PHONE: (713) 348-6770 E-MAIL: [email protected] Rice University’s Baker Institute issues ‘Trilateral Action Plan for Road Map Phase I Implementation’Report follows up on previous recommendations to help Israelis and Palestinians A report focusing on what needs to be done following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and part of the Northern West Bank and during the upcoming period when Israelis and Palestinians are preparing for elections was published online today by Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Titled “Trilateral Action Plan for Road Map Phase I Implementation,” the report complements a policy paper the Baker Institute issued in February after convening an international group of experts for a workshop on creating a Road Map implementation process under U.S. leadership. The new report acknowledges the success of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in brokering the stalemate over the Rafah crossing issue in November and the important work of Lt. General William Ward and James Wolfensohn in laying the groundwork for tactical movement forward on Palestinian security reforms and economic development. For strategic change to be achieved, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will need sufficient domestic legitimacy to carry out its Phase I obligations: creating law and order, effective government and a monopoly over the use of force. In discussions with Israeli and Palestinian decision makers, the Baker Institute gained the impression that by the time the elections end in spring 2006, both parties will have a vested interest in moving from tactical measures to strategic change. “The new Israeli prime minister, regardless of party affiliation, will have an interest in defining Israel’s borders, seeking international legitimacy for doing so and, if possible, Palestinian agreement,” the report states. “According to this scenario, Israel is likely to seek negotiations once the Palestinians meet their Phase I Road Map obligations. Under the leadership of President Abu Mazen, the PA appears determined to move toward Phase I implementation in order to return to permanent status negotiations.” The report suggests that when circumstances evolve and both sides return to the negotiating table within the framework of the Road Map, Israel’s interest in defining its final borders and the Palestinian interest in reaching a permanent status agreement will coincide to facilitate progress in the peace process. Among the recommendations made in the report: * The Quartet should issue an expanded mission statement for the security and economic envoys to empower them to oversee Phase I implementation of the Road Map on behalf of the Quartet. Strengthening the international support structure and promoting economic development should be key objectives for initial implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian Road Map. Building effective security capacities to meet the needs of both Israeli and Palestinian societies is also a critical recommendation. * The U.S. government should urge the Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leadership to facilitate ongoing Egyptian efforts in overcoming fragmentation within the Fatah-controlled security apparatuses and to promote the Palestinian national dialogue, which would permit the PA to fully implement its strategic goal of “one authority, one law, one gun.” * A Security Support Unit should be created and modeled after the Negotiation Support Unit, including U.S. and international security experts as well as Palestinian security officials. * The Quartet should take the lead in creating an Information Support Unit to reinforce public opinion against continued violence. * A trilateral committee should be created to devise a detailed program that permits the PA to assume full security and civil control over the Northern West Bank. * The U.S. should develop a bilateral oversight structure with the government of Israel to facilitate implementation of Israeli obligations given at Sharam el-Sheikh in February 2005 and in the Dov Weisglass letter of April 2004. Additional recommendations can be found in the full report at the Baker Institute Web site, http://bakerinstitute.org . “It is our hope that decision makers, under current political circumstances, will take these suggestions under serious consideration in order to secure Phase I implementation of the Road Map and to then launch consultations with the parties, under United States leadership and within the framework of the Quartet, on Phases II and III implementation of the Road Map,” said Edward Djerejian, director of the Baker Institute. A Baker Institute study on these issues will be prepared in spring 2006.