President Bush’s strategy to secure Israel’s agreement to negotiate under the Bush Roadmap should be given serious consideration by President Trump as he puts together his eagerly-anticipated “ultimate deal” to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.
Bush’s strategy involved him firstly stating his “vision” before actually announcing the Bush Roadmap to turn that vision into reality.
Israel was required to make concrete territorial withdrawals from Judea and Samaria (West Bank) – possibly compromising Israel’s security in the process. Publicly confronting Israel with the Bush Roadmap first up could have seen its outright rejection by Israel before the ink was even dry.
President Reagan had succeeded in doing just that when announcing his peace plan on 1 September 1982. Reagan’s plan was unanimously rejected out of hand by Israel’s cabinet the very next day – whilst America pleaded with Jordan to accept it over the next twelve months as a means of putting pressure on Israel to cave in and negotiate. King Hussein of Jordan did not take the bait. The Reagan plan was dead in the water.
Bush was savvy enough to not repeat Reagan’s mistake.
Bush first enunciated his “vision” in a speech on 24 June 2002:
· Two states, living side by side in peace and security.
· The Palestinian people electing new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror, building a practising democracy, based on tolerance and liberty.A draft version of the Bush Roadmap dated 15 October 2002 was “provided” to the New York Times and published on 14 November 2002.
After talks on 31 March 2003 at the White House with President Bush, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom announced that Israel was:
“adopting the vision of President Bush, and anything that will be a genuine, accurate reflection of this vision will be something that we will be able to work with.”Bush’s Roadmap in final form was made public on 30 April 2003.
Israel’s response was markedly different from its response to Reagan’s proposal:
“The Government of Israel, today (Sunday), 25.5.03, considered the Prime Minister's statement on the Roadmap, as well as Israel's comments on its implementation. Following its deliberations, the Government, by a majority vote, resolved:
Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel's comments to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the Roadmap.
The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister's announcement, and resolves that all of Israel's comments, as addressed in the Administration's statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap.”Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had given the following assurances to Israel from the lawns of the White House on 23 May 2003:
The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap. The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfil the President's vision of June 24, 2002.This astute and finely-crafted process paid off handsomely – with Israel being sufficiently encouraged by Bush’s assurances to agree to enter into negotiations based on Bush’s Roadmap.
The success of Trump’s ultimate deal could depend on Trump rejecting the Reagan approach and adopting the Bush strategy.