Yes, the "road map" is dead

Actually, there was never any substance to this "plan" or its implementation to begin with. But the two suicide bombings in Israel, one at an army base near Tel Aviv and one in West Jerusalem, will probably put an end to any more Powell-esque fantasies on this point.

While we're at it, we can also discard the canard that getting rid of Saddam was some kind of precondition for a solution in Palestine. Let's try putting reality on its feet for once instead of on its head: solve the Israel-Palestine problem, and the rest of the Middle East will be much easier to sort out.

Anyway, a short-term prediction: Sharon cuts short his visit to India, returns to Israel, and moves to expel Arafat, who may or may not unexpectedly die in the attempt. Of course, such a move would do nothing to end the violence - Arafat is simply the face by which the Israeli government markets the Palestinian "menace" to the rest of the world. Like the "get-rid-of-Saddam-and-the-Middle-East-will-be-heaven-on-earth" thesis, the new "expel-Arafat-and-the-Middle-East-will-be-heaven-on-earth" plan is doomed to failure, because it doesn't at all address the larger problems, which can't be reduced to the presence or absence of one person. But for the low-intellect individuals arguing for this course of action, there must be a certain comfort both in not having to look too closely at the issues involved and in the idea that a single person, Arafat, is personally behind every bad thing that happens in the Middle East (except when Saddam and his Werewolves are, that is). Why bother thinking about complex thingies, when Satan is standing right in front of you or, in this case, sitting in an office in Ramallah?

On another note, it is interesting that Middle East eggheads Hussein Agha and Robert Malley - who criticize the "road map" for its vagueness and general uselessness - never actually get around to talking about any specific details in the context of their expert plan. There are a few vague noises about "outposts" and "security" and the like, but the big issues - Jerusalem, refugees, borders, resources - are not mentioned at all, as if they do not exist. Surely the idea cannot be that the terms of a final agreement are so obvious that they need not even be mentioned.

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