The Middle East Dream Map

The recent push given by President George W. Bush to the so-called Middle East "road map" is welcome, and the fact that both Israel and the Palestinians have accepted it is a good omen. Yet the chances that it will bring real, as opposed to merely rhetorical, progress toward reconciliation remain slim.

The reasons are manifold: first, what is called a "road map" is in reality little more than a wish list of what has to be done in order to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a noble set of goals, but it sometimes appears to be distant from the region's political realities.

For example, the road map rightly acknowledges that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be solved in a void; regional considerations must be taken into account. The plan calls for far-reaching Israeli concessions: withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, dismantling of settlements, some compromise about Jerusalem.

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