So the Middle East Roadmap to Peace has been handed over to the new Palestinian government and to the Israelis. It is a radical departure in that the new formula puts much stress on actions rather than Israeli-Palestinian face-to-face talks. Tasks should be verifiable and enforcable – it seems good sense to me, particularly given the failures of the two parties to get anywhere near a settlement since Oslo failed. The fact that Hamas and Sharonite hardliners, along with their international allies, are the only people to have come out against the plan should tell us something.
In many ways it is similar idea to the ‘six tests for Saddam’ that Jack Straw put together before the French decided they would block any attempt at a verifiable approach to disarming Saddam – and it has to be policed with as much vigour as that would have been. What it appears to lack though is what the French objected to the Saddam tests containing – a clear sanction for failing to keep to the course. Ultimately I think the democratic community has to be willing to enforce peace on Israel and Palestine. The idea of Iraq becoming a democratic ‘beacon’ in the region will count for nothing if the west and the US in particular continues to be perceived as a supporter of Israeli injustice.