These days I find inspiration by simply walking down a street in
Tel Aviv or Ramallah. People really do want peace. They are ready.
And I think that most of them, in their hearts, know what needs to
be done. But the dichotomy is always there - the splitting of the
world into two, Israel or Palestine. It comes with the almost
inevitable question - "Larsen," they ask, "what are you,
pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian?"
For me, the answer is as simple as it is truthful. I am both. For
it is possible to be in favor of the desires, dreams and
aspirations of both peoples.
I am pro-Israeli. I steadfastly believe in Israel's right to exist.
No people have more deserved a state of their own than the Jews,
who have long suffered at the hands - and within the states - of
others. Israelis have had a state for over two generations - and it
is very correct when people today say that the future of the Jewish
state now hangs in the balance
Then, I add, I am also pro-Palestinian. I steadfastly believe in
the right of the Palestinian people to their own state. No people
today more deserve this than the Palestinians, long suffering under
the rule of others, including the Israeli occupation of today. The
Palestinians now need a state - without it, this conflicted region
may never find lasting peace. In other words, the occupation has to
This vision of lasting peace we all know as the two-state solution.
Justice, security and peace between the two peoples is best
achieved, as I see it, by creating two sovereign states west of the
Jordan River, Israel and Palestine.
Last Chance for a Two-State Solution
And that is what the Road Map is all about. It is, quite simply the
latest - and I dare say perhaps the last chance for the two-state
solution. The Road Map is probably one of the least read, most
misunderstood but most important documents in modern peace
diplomacy. I will attempt to explain a little bit about it - and I
also urge you to read it yourself (see Documents section).
As one of the architects of the Road Map, I am often asked: Why
will it succeed where all previous attempts have failed? As I see
it, there are three key reasons.
First, the Road Map builds on the achievements of Oslo, but it has
also learned the lessons of the Oslo peace efforts and more recent
endeavors to end the current crisis. Second, we have unprecedented
backing and commitment from the parties, the region and the rest of
the world. Third, we know exactly what needs to be done to get this
process moving immediately.
Length, Breadth and Depth
What is different about the Road Map? Perhaps its best to think of
it in spatial terms: The plan has the length, breadth and depth
that are missing from previous initiatives.
The length is embodied in the stated end goal: the end of
occupation and two universally recognized states, Israel and
Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. No other
peace plan put forward by the key international players has, since
1948, had these goals specifically defined. The Oslo Accords of
1993 were also a road map, but they did not define where the
journey would end. The road map of 2003 does that.
The breadth is found in the other tracks, involving both Syria and
Lebanon, which will help forge a comprehensive regional peace. This
is a plan the region needs, not just Israelis and Palestinians, a
plan that could finally bring the entire Arab-Israeli conflict to
The depth is anchored in the so-called "monitoring mechanism" - a
US - led system for ensuring that the parties comply with their
commitment as outlined in the Road Map. It is an organizing
principle lacking in all other plans. Calibrated by performance
benchmarks, the mechanism will monitor progress by the parties in
security, political, and humanitarian fields, ensuring that
progress happens in all areas in parallel and with
Active International Backing
As the summits in Aqaba and Sharm al-Sheikh show, broad and active
international backing has been essential to getting the Road Map
off the ground. International support acknowledges that in the
current environment of hostility and mistrust, Israelis and
Palestinians cannot forge a peace agreement alone. Never before
have key regional and international players promoted a peace
initiative with such deep dedication and strong vigor.
The diplomatic Quartet of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN
developed the plan over a nine-month period. It explicitly includes
last year's Arab League initiative calling for full relations with
Israel as part of a peace treaty. President Bush's timely and
strongly committed engagement is now leading the way.
Terror and Settlements Must Stop
But for this diplomatic breakthrough to succeed, certain concrete
things must happen now. Terror must end - for it is this terror
that tells Israelis that Palestinians do not want to live in peace.
And let me say directly and concretely that the Road Map is
designed to once and for all end this despicable and deeply
troubling practice - these morally repugnant acts that have so
bloodied this land. It must not and cannot continue. Settlement
building must stop - for it is the presence and continued expansion
of settlements that tell Palestinians that Israel does not want to
end the occupation. And the misery of ordinary Palestinians must
abate - peace is not possible with innocents dying almost daily,
more than half the population below the poverty line, and close to
half the workforce without jobs.
On security, we need simultaneous action. The defining element here
is a workable security plan that allows the Palestinian Authority
to rebuild its shattered security services into a unified and
reliable force. By combating terror and collecting illegal weapons,
this force should send a clear message that the PA is now
determined to extend its authority over all Palestine.
On settlements, Israel is about to start removing West Bank
outposts, which were erected in defiance of both international and
Israeli law. This will send a clear message to the Palestinians
that Israel is serious about the peace process and in ensuring that
a viable and independent Palestinian state is to emerge from this
On the daily suffering of Palestinian civilians, Israel must ease
as soon as possible movement restrictions across the West Bank and
Gaza, leading to a full military withdrawal to the lines of
September 2000. To consolidate popular support for the Road Map,
the Palestinian people must experience fundamental changes and once
again be in charge of their lives. This is essential. With a
workable security plan in place, Israel should remove as quickly as
possible checkpoints and roadblocks, which symbolize occupation,
and produce suffering and humiliation for the Palestinian
The next step for the Road Map is for the American-led monitoring
team to start working with the Quartet. We at the UN and the other
members of the Quartet look forward to working with them. Let me
also say the Road Map is far from a perfect document. It does not
meet all of the needs of the parties. Of course, no plan is ideal.
The Road Map is a compromise reached by the authors - the US, the
EU, Russia and the UN, through a long and broad consultation
process. In the heated environment of the Middle East conflict,
with trust between the parties virtually non-existent, it is easy
to argue that any steps on the path to peace carry with them
potential hazards. This may be true. It is also true that the
absence of a negotiated settlement has led neither to peace nor
security nor prosperity for the peoples of the Middle East.
A Heavy Burden on Us All
Let us have no illusions about it - the path to peace along the
Road Map will be difficult and strewn with obstacles. The
alternative is a continued cycle of violence and economic and
social dislocation. Quite simply, the Road Map remains the best
prospect for achieving the vision of two States - a secure and
prosperous Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign and
democratic Palestine - living side-by-side in peace and security.
The Road Map endeavors to bring peace through the establishment of
two recognized, secure and prosperous states, Israel and Palestine.
And if we now let this opportunity slip from our grasp, if we pass
this up, there may not be another chance. This puts a very heavy
burden on all of us because it is precisely of this reason that we,
now more than ever, have to work for a just and peaceful solution,
as designed by the Road Map, with more strength and stamina than
ever. We must never surrender in this peaceful battle for
Based upon a presentation to Peace Now and the Peace Coalition
in Tel Aviv, June 9, 2003.