Shortly before the convening of the one day Annapolis meeting aimed at giving a push to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, last November, Condoleza Rice held a much smaller meeting in the state department. Huddling with the authors of a brand new book on negotiating an Arab Israeli peace, the US secretary of state met with former US ambassador Dan Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky. Their book Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East by Daniel C. Kurtzer and Scott B. Lasensky. Putting the book aside Rice asked the two authors to verbally tell her what was the one issue that she should focus on as she prepares for the Annapolis meeting. According to Kurtzer who gave a talk at Princeton University where he is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School, they pointed to lesson five of the ten lessons in their book.
Lesson 5 states the following "Commitments made by the parties and agreements entered into must be respected and implemented. The United States must ensure compliance through monitoring, setting standards of accountability, reporting violations fairly to the parties, and exacting consequences when commitments are broken or agreements not implemented. "
Secretary Rice seems to have accepted this particular advise and convinced President Bush to appoint a three state US general to monitor Palestinian and Israeli compliance to their own commitments. US President George W. Bush named in January Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to monitor progress that Israelis and Palestinians sides are making on the peace process known as the "road map."
In his speech at Princeton, early in April, Kertzer was pleased that their idea was picked up by the Bush Administration. However, Ambassador Kurtzer complained that Washington is not taking this issue seriously. He explained that it is not enough to send the general two days a month and expect that to count as monitoring.
Kurtzer was not the only person who felt that President Bush was not serious in wanting to hold the parties (especially Israel) accountable to their commitments. Jewish settlers in Hebron and to a lesser degree the Israeli government clearly don't seem to have taken this issue seriously. On Friday May 1, the Israeli daily published the following story:
The American bodyguards of a Bush administration envoy who was dispatched to the region to monitor the implementation of the road map engaged in a violent confrontation with right-wing Israelis who sought to disturb a visit to Hebron on Friday, Israel Radio reported. One of the rightists is reported to have driven his jeep into the convoy accompanying General William Fraser. Subsequently, one of the vehicles in the convoy heavily collided with the jeep, according to Israel Radio. A fracas ensued between the guards and the rightists before the Americans decided to cut the visit short, Israel Radio reported.
It is amazing that a three star general appointed by the US president is physically harassed and denied to do his job by citizens of a country that America has a special relationship with. Until this writing, neither the state department nor the white house have even made a public statement about the incident. IF Washington is silent about the fact that one of its generals whose mission is to monitor the parties commitments is being pushed around by Israelis how can we ever expect this American military envoy or the US government to actually publicly point the finger at the side that is violating the agreement, especially if that side is the Israeli side?