SHALOM AND ELON REACT TO AMERICAN "ROAD MAP" PRESSURE
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who met with U.S. President George Bush last night, said afterwards that nothing truly new was said regarding the Road Map plan and the Administration's position on the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha). Shalom said that the Americans have been against the Yesha enterprise for 30 years. He emphasized, as well, that he had made it clear to the American officials that the cessation of Palestinian terrorism and incitement is an essential pre-condition for the implementation of the Road Map.
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon, who also took part in the meeting last night, similarly said that Israel would not implement the Road Map until PA terrorism ceases.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told an AIPAC convention on Sunday night that Israel would have to stop all construction in Yesha. "Settlement activity is simply inconsistent with President Bush's two-state vision," he said, adding that the Road Map is not an "edict," but merely a "statement of the broad steps we believe Israel and the Palestinians must take to achieve President Bush's vision…"
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was even stronger in her speech yesterday to AIPAC, saying, "The Road Map plan is not open to negotiation." Comments from the sides would be welcome, however. She also left an opening for the position expressed by Shalom and Ayalon, implying that Israel would have to stop its construction in Yesha only once there was "progress" in the peace process.
Tourism Minister Benny Elon (National Union), a strong supporter of Yesha and opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state, was asked about the new American demand today. "Our own government's guidelines themselves call for no new settlements in Yesha," Elon said, "and there are even some amongst us who are so estranged from the Bible, and from the Land of Israel as the Land of the Bible, that they would even like to see Jews uprooted from their homes in Yesha… The U.S. position is not new. Our job is to ensure that a Palestinian state, which a danger to Israel in so many ways, is not established."
It is widely assumed that the strong American emphasis on the Road Map is largely aimed at placating British concerns regarding *Arab* concerns that Israel is not being sufficiently pressured. Nevertheless, American groups such as the ZOA, AFSI, and others have already begun public informational efforts to explain the dangers of a Palestinian state. Elon, as Minister of Tourism, said he has found strong support among many Christian groups in the U.S. for Jews' rights to settle anywhere in the Land of Israel.
Arutz-7 - 4/2/2003