November 19 marked the 10th anniversary of the unanimous adoption by the UN
Security Council of the “Roadmap” for Mideast peace. A decade later, lasting
peace remains elusive as world leaders continue to misassign blame upon
The roadmap was adopted in the midst of the raging second
intifada, which began in late September 2000, consisting of numerous terrorist
bombings and heinous suicide attacks conducted by Palestinian terrorist
In an act of self-defense, Israel began construction of a
terrorism prevention security fence through portions of the West Bank – an act
that has become enmeshed in international controversy and has reaped untold and
unjustified criticism upon Israel.
In the midst of the violence,
president George W. Bush delivered a speech in the Rose Garden of the White
House on June 24, 2002, reflecting moral clarity. The president called on “the
Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by
He further declared that so long as terrorists victimize Israeli
citizens, that “Israel will continue to defend herself.” Rather than hide behind
diplomatic euphemisms, Bush bemoaned the fact that Palestinian leaders were
indeed “compromised by terror.” If only the Palestinian people would begin
implementing necessary reforms, the president promised the support of the world
community in establishing an independent Palestinian state. As the international
president of B’nai B’rith International at the time, I wrote to Bush expressing
full support for his vision and goal to create two states for two peoples – the
Palestinian people and the Jewish people.
The acts of terror upon Israel
and the violence of the second intifada continued. Yet, in October 2003, the UN
Security Council considered a resolution, vetoed by the United States,
condemning Israel for its construction of the security fence without addressing
the onslaught of terror being suffered by Israel on a daily basis. The UN
General Assembly subsequently adopted a resolution of
Regrettably, the resolution’s concurrent condemnation of
suicide bombings and of the fence improperly implied a moral equivalence between
harming the innocent and protecting the innocent.
TEN YEARS ago this day,
and seized of the matter of peace and security between Israel and the
Palestinians, the UN Security Council adopted the Roadmap for Peace, also
approved by the US, Russia, the EU, Israel and the Palestinians.
Roadmap provided for a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. This Roadmap expressed “grave concern at the continuation of the
tragic and violent events in the Middle East” and called for a “cessation of all
acts of violence, including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and
destruction.” The Quartet appointed former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who
continues his efforts as its envoy for Middle East peace.
December 8, 2003, contrary to any semblance of objectivity, and in violation of
the UN Charter, the UNGA approved a resolution seeking an advisory opinion of
the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the “legal consequences” of the
construction of the terrorism prevention security fence, referred to in the
resolution as the “wall”.
The ICJ, over the objections of the United
States, Israel and other countries which contested the jurisdiction of the ICJ
to consider the case and to issue the advisory opinion as to the question
referred to it by the UNGA, accepted jurisdiction over the question. In February
2004, the ICJ convened hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Appearing to
protest the ICJ proceedings, victims of the second intifada vividly drew
attention to the daily onslaught of terror in the region by gathering in front
of the gate to the Peace Palace with a burned out Egged bus brought to The
At the same time, hearings on behalf of victims of the second
intifada were convened by the Center for Documentation and Information on Israel
at the Old City Hall of The Hague in the presence of European and Dutch members
of Parliament. At these hearings, victims of terrorism depicted the horror,
anguish, and suffering they endured at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. At
those hearings, I served as lead counsel on behalf of the victims who addressed
not the International Court of Justice but the court of world
Yet, ignoring reality and the justification for construction of
a security fence/barrier, parts of which indeed are made of concrete to stop
stones, grenades and other attacks, the International Court of Justice
castigated Israel in its advisory opinion on the security fence, giving no
credence to the necessity of the State of Israel to construct the barrier in an
effort to protect Israeli citizens, residents, workers and visitors from
terrorist attacks nor any deference to the decision of the Israeli High Court of
Justice ordering rerouting of portions of the security barrier.
written extensively on Israel’s struggle against terrorism and battle for
justice at the UN, including the International Court of Justice, in my recently
released book The Hague Odyssey: : Israel’s Struggle for Security on the Front
Lines of Terrorism and Her Battle for Justice at the United Nations (Bartleby
Press, 2013; see thehagueodyssey.
com.) Simply put, in the years
following the UN’s condemnation of the security fence, the fence has saved an
untold number of lives.
Last month, I addressed the International
Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists Conference at the Peace Palace Library
in the Hague, returning after 10 years. I stressed that Israel, like every other
nation state committed to the rule of law, justice, human dignity and human
rights, has acted properly in providing security and protection for her people,
notwithstanding the criticisms of the ICJ. Even today, the fence provides
protection against a threatened third intifada.
The Roadmap is 10 years
old, but long in the making. In 2002, Bush pointedly declared that “a
Palestinian state will never be created by terror—it will be built through
reform…” But the world exhibits a stubborn and wrongheaded pattern of placing
the blame on Israel – the party which has shown an outsized willingness to
compromise, to protect its people and to the establishment of peace, security
and economic prosperity for all peoples of the region.
US Secretary of
State John Kerry, working to bring the Israelis and Palestinians toward an
agreement in keeping with the Roadmap has encountered numerous challenges in
overseeing the negotiations. In a TV interview last week with Israeli and
Palestinian journalists, Kerry referenced the existence of the “wall,” Israeli
settlements and Israel Defense Force operations in the West Bank as if it is
Israel who is to blame for the inability to achieve a lasting peace. The
interview, surprising to many since Kerry has reserved unto himself the right to
make public statements about the negotiations, included a reference to a looming
third intifada should the negotiations fail. Secretary Kerry reportedly has
stated that Israel’s policies may create an “increasing feeling that if we
cannot get peace with a leadership that is committed to non-violence, you may
wind up with leadership that is committed to violence.” This statement has been
interpreted by many to suggest a belief that the present Palestinian leadership
indeed is committed to peace and that the failure to achieve peace rests with
Israel. Reality suggests otherwise.
Not everything wrong in the Middle
East is blamable on Israel. One must look to the root reasons for Israel’s
actions: to defend and protect its people and to assure security for Israel, the
nation-state of the Jewish people living side by side in peace and security with
its neighbors – indeed, in a dangerous neighborhood. Blurring the lines of
responsibility for the failure of the Roadmap to achieve a permanent agreement
will not resolve the issues between the parties nor achieve the result
envisioned under the Roadmap.
For the majority of Palestinians yearning
for a stable society in which to thrive and for Israeli citizens longing for a
daily life free of terrorist threats, a permanent peace cannot come soon enough.
On November 19, these millions of people will have waited 10 years since the
unanimous adoption of the Roadmap for Peace gave much hope for an imminent end
to the violence and terror. A lasting peace will only ensue when the actions and
words of all pursue the same ends.
Ten years and counting is far too