Sunday, March 30, 2008


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Israel has made an important concession to the Palestinians by agreeing to remove some 55 roadblocks. Griffe Witte writes in today's The Washington Post:

"Prodded by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israel said Sunday that it would remove about 50 roadblocks in the West Bank as it moves ahead with faltering negotiations aimed at reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of the year.

"Rice called the announcement "a very good start" to improving Palestinians' freedom of movement in the West Bank, a key criteria in the peace process."

But there are at least 580 roadblocks put up by the Israelis to harass Palestinians and impede their movement. So Rice's achievement is to persuade the Israelis to remove less than 10%.

Reports Witte:

"But Palestinian leaders reacted far more cautiously, noting that Israel has promised to take down the internal West Bank barriers in the past but failed to follow through.

""We will believe it when we see it," said Saeb Erekat, a leading Palestinian negotiator. "I hope that this time, they will deliver."

"Erekat said the Palestinian Authority had not been told which roadblocks would be removed, or when it would happen.

"The West Bank is checkered by 580 roadblocks -- including checkpoints, barbed wire, concrete barriers, dirt mounds and trenches -- that Israel says are needed to guarantee security but that the Palestinians consider devastating to their economic well-being."

If Rice were successful with the Israelis on the question of roadblocks, we would be talking about removing all of them instead of just 10%. Removing 50 roadblocks cannot be called "success."

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