Deportation — which Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are still trying to make a condition for the release of certain Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, in exchange for IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Palestinians since the end of June 2006 — is a violation of the Road Map.
The Road Map was written — and endorsed by the UN Security Council — in 2003, after deportation was devised as the solution to the exit of Palestinian gunmen and other Palestinians who had sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during an Israeli raid which became an extended seige.
The deportation of those 29 or so Palestinian men was thought to be for a period of one year, but they are almost all still in exile seven years later, some in Gaza (they survived last winter’s IDF military onslaught), and others in Europe. Those Palestinian men were pressured or persuaded to accept the deportation agreement that had been negotiated — and thus, it became a “voluntary” deportation.
But, since the adoption of the Road Map, which both the Palestinians and the Israelis (despite the 14 reservations listed separately by Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) have accepted, deportation (voluntary or not) has become a violation of the terms of the Road Map — just as much as is the requirement to maintain a settlement freeze.
It’s right up there at the start of Phase I.
Under the heading “Security”, the Road Map says that: the “GOI [Government of Israel] takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attacks on civilians; confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet work plan”…
The Road Map, which can be read in a number of places including on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
In case anyone has forgotten, the Road Map introduces itself as “a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet [the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia]. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005 … A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below. The Quartet will assist and facilitate implementation of the plan, starting in Phase I, including direct discussions between the parties as required. The plan establishes a realistic timeline for implementation. However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below”.