"The time has come to move beyond entrenched positions and to take concrete actions to achieve peace. America is committed, and I am personally committed, to implementing our road map toward peace," said President Bush in the Rose Garden on March 14, 2003.
The Mideast road map toward peace was developed by the "quartet" of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union. It outlines a broad series of steps that are supposed to lead to a Middle East in which the State of Israel and a new Palestinian State coexist peacefully.
The text of the road map was released by the U.S. State Department on April 30, 2003. In sum, the road map calls on both the Palestinians and Israelis to take actions toward peace. The Palestinians need to fight terror in a decisive manner. The Israelis need to ease the suffering of Palestinians living under occupation, to stop settlement activity, and to evacuate illegal outposts.
At the earliest, after steps are taken by both sides, a Palestinian State, with provisional borders, could be established by the end of 2003. Final, permanent borders are to be established by the end of 2005 after an international conference, which would settle long-standing disputes such as the status of Jerusalem.
While the Palestinians are ready to adopt the road map, the Israelis want to make as many as fifteen changes to the plan.
The road map was presented only after Abu Mazen was appointed Palestinian prime minister. The United States refused to deal with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on the grounds that he was not doing enough to combat terror. Israel wants to see Abu Mazen take decisive action against terrorist groups before putting faith in this peace plan.
Israel says they will only pull troops out of Palestinian towns after the Palestinians have taken "concrete action" to crack down on terror.
"To think that they will make a declaration (against terrorism) and we will make a move, those days are over. Every time we took unilateral steps (in the past), we would have a surge in terrorist attacks," said Ra'anan Gissin, a Sharon adviser and spokesman.
According to Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, the quartet's road map will lead to nowhere. Indyk believes that a more ambitious approach, such as a trusteeship for Palestine, will be necessary in order to get to serious Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations