The Road Map, the three-part peace plan presented to the Palestinians and Israelis by the Quartet, will have direct implications on Palestinians' human rights during its implementation. This is especially so in the case of the security procedures to be taken by both parties, which should make it possible to establish an independent Palestinian state, within temporary boundaries.

First, let us look at the commitments made by the Palestinians in the security field, the most prominent of which is the arrest, detention or obstruction of any individuals or groups that plan or implement violent attacks against Israelis, or those connected to "terrorism," the destruction of "terrorist" infrastructure and the collection of illegal weapons.

Implementing these commitments will result in unjustified and clear violations of Palestinian human rights. Politically, there is obvious discrimination against the Palestinian population as a whole, rather than their method of resistance, i.e., carrying out military actions that target civilians. At the same time, the Road Map is devoid of any mention of the military and settler presence within Palestinian land, which must be considered an occupation. The legal repercussions of this occupation should be, first and foremeost, the monitoring of human rights and the implementation of relevant international agreements, conventions and resolutions.

There is an explicit and flagrant disregard for the role of international institutions, even though they have so far failed to carry out their duty to end the conflict by implementing all decisions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and working toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state under UN resolution 181. By calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, this resolution should constitute a legal, political and practical guarantee of Palestinian human rights. However, the Israelis and Palestinians have preferred bilateral negotiations, albeit under the auspices of international parties, which means each side will implement its security commitments unilaterally. This could jeopardize Palestinian human rights, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) will have to find legal justifications for implementing these security commitments. The criteria that will be utilized, according to the terms of the Road Map, are the American standards for defining a terrorist, despite the fact that this definition has not been internationally acknowledged. Israel has arranged its agenda according to that of the US and has worked in correspondence and congruence with it, making US criteria the basis for violating Palestinian human rights.

Under the banner of "terrorism," for which there is still no internationally agreed definition, the Palestinians will be harassed through measures supposed to fit the definition of "fighting terrorism,", i.e., arrests, house demolitions, targeted assasinations, infrastructure destruction and taking members of the resistance, and their organizations, to court. All these actions are contrary to what has been ratified within international conventions and norms and constitute a clear transgression of people's right to resist illegal occupation. Criminalizing resistance in a comprehensive manner exempts Israel from international accountability as an occupying force. Israel must be held responsible for its daily actions, which include assaults, arrests and assassinations (in effect, extra-judicial executions), in addition to destroying houses, confiscating land and building settlements. But Israel is never held accountable, despite the fact that all these actions are clear transgressions of Palestinians' human rights. Israel considers all these actions to be within the framework of a legitimate self-defense, as if the Palestinians were the occupying force and not vice-versa.

Legality of the Procedures

The PA may begin implementation of security measures in accordance with the Road Map, despite the expected implications on its citizens' human rights and the threat of directly transgressing on public freedoms and civic rights. It could find itself forced to draft new legislation in light of these security requirements, which will have a negative effect on the Palestinian legislative system. If work is suspended on a number of civil society laws to focus on security procedures, there is the danger of turning Palestinian society into a police state. The PA could declare a state of emergency when the Israeli army withdraws from cities and area "A." It would then work according to summary laws, allowing state security forces to place a tight grip on political and civil life, under the banner "resisting terrorism." By implementing such precautionary measures, the PA could successfully reap political benefits, which it is hoped would eventually lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian security courts, for example, were not opposed by the Americans or Israelis, probably because they meet security needs, despite the fact they violate human rights.

Thus, there is the fear that the failure to provide human rights guarantees, along with the possibility that the PA and its security forces crack down on freedom of expression in universities, schools and civil society organizations, would create an undemocratic atmosphere, followed by an ominous security "junta" within Palestinian society. The American and Israeli administration could also pressure the Palestinian government into taking actions similar to those enforced in the US after September 11, under the banner of "protecting the nation." This would grant the government wide-ranging powers that could conflict with public freedoms and the principles of human rights.

The Sphere of the Media

Following that overview of the possible scenarios regarding the implementation of security commitments by the Palestinians, there is little doubt these procedures will directly affect freedom of expression. The freedom of the media may be suppressed or subdued for the benefit of the Road Map's speedy implementation, and the press encouraged to veer away from a more democratic track (with its inherent guarantee of human rights) to become a government mouthpiece. That could see dialogue in favor of Palestinians' human, national and political rights censored, including debate on the Palestinian refugees' right of return. The Palestinian media could witness a widespread intimidation campaign, with claims that it is a tool of incitement in direct violation of freedom of expression and opinion.

The Palestinian media would have to follow security orders or become accountable to the PA. The end result would be the burial of freedoms for the benefit of the Road Map. Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, says in his book, The Future of Freedom:

"This is the Problem, that if a democratic government implements democracy on a limited basis and through a gradual widening of the scope of freedoms, then we should not describe this kind of government as dictatorial. This is the pretext given by American democratic theorists and ideologists for any authority based on procedures that condradict the principles of democratic practice and its morals or that contradicts human rights."

The Palestinians' need to implement security commitments before reaching a political settlement with Israel will create a situation rife with potential human rights transgressions. Nor will it create an atmosphere condusive to a political settlement with all Palestinian factions, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The political agreement between the factions was drawn up to allow the PA to avoid this security trap. If the PA is able to reach a political agreement with the other Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the implementation of security measures will be easier and less perilous to Palestinian human rights. It will be a responsibility shared by all to protect the political agreement and achieve the aims of the Road Map. However, the Israeli government, which has not matured enough for the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinians, wants to ignite a civil war within the Palestinian camp, to guarantee the destruction of what it had previously been unable to destroy. This would obliterate the basis for democratic and human rights development, as civil wars are incredibly detrimental to human rights. There are many examples of this kind of situation in Latin America, Africa, the Balkans, etc. The outbreak of such a war would disrupt the establishment of a Palestinian state while removing any moral, legal or political responsibility from Israel's shoulders. There are movements within Israeli society that oppose the democratization of Arab societies, especially the Palestinians. Democracy would reveal the ugly face of the ocupation, exposing a society damaged by the lack of respect of human rights and their daily violation by Israel's security institutions.

Lack of Protection of Human Rights within the Road Map

After scrutinizing the Road Map, it is obvious that it is full of security commitments that could impinge on Palestinians' human rights. It is also void of any mention of the protection of human rights. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis now need another agreement to guarantee that any transgressions resulting from the implementation of the Road Map will be dealt with. This requires the establishment of mechanisms to monitor the extent of compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law.

Failing to guarantee basic human rights will result in deep feelings of ill will toward the achievement of peace and the building of a democratic society that respects human rights and works for their assurance. Previous international episodes in the field of conflict resolution have already demonstrated this, for example in East Timor and Yugoslavia. These are lessons both Palestinians and Israelis can learn from. However, the Road Map has totally distanced itself from the principle of dealing with human rights or guaranteeing these rights. This issue has not been addressed and matters have been left to the discretion of the two sides. The victims will be the individual Palestinians whose rights will be transgressed by security pretexts that remain undefined by regulations or legislation.

It is obvious there is a need for programs and mechanisms to guarantee human rights, concurrent with the Road Map's implementation. A lack of clear references to basic human rights, with no guarantees endorsed by international humanitarian law, leaves the road open for further transgressions that could eventually destroy the negotiation process.