JERUSALEM (Reuters) - George Mitchell, the new U.S. envoy to the Middle East, led a commission that investigated the causes of Israel-Palestinian violence that erupted in 2000 and recommended steps to end bloodshed and return to peace talks.
The report, released in 2001, served as a basis for a 2003 U.S.-backed peace “road map” that was the foundation of peace negotiations renewed at the Annapolis conference in 2007.
Following are some of the report’s main recommendations and their aftermath:
* “The PA (Palestinian Authority) should make clear through concrete action to Palestinians and Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable, and that the PA will make a 100 percent effort to prevent terrorist operations and to punish perpetrators.”
-- Violence continued to rage. Israel began building a barrier in the occupied West Bank that it said helped to prevent suicide bombings. Palestinians called it a land grab and the World Court deemed the project illegal. Hamas Islamists dedicated to Israel’s destruction seized the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in 2007. Israel launched a devastating 22-day war in the Gaza Strip on December 27, saying it sought to end cross-border rocket attacks.
*“The GOI (government of Israel) should freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements.”
-- Israel ignored the recommendation. Peace Now, an Israeli organisation opposed to settlements, said that last year alone, 1,257 new structures were built in the enclaves. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory captured in a 1967 war.
*“The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) should consider withdrawing to positions held before September 28, 2000 which will reduce the number of friction points and the potential for violent confrontations.”
-- Although violence in the West Bank is now rare and Palestinian police are back on its streets, Israeli forces are still deployed outside towns and villages, maintaining a network of military roadblocks and checkpoints. Palestinians and the United States say the restrictions are a daily source of humiliation. Israel says they are vital to its security. Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
* The report said none of the steps it recommended could “long be sustained absent a return to serious negotiations.”
-- Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were renewed only in November 2007, late into President George W. Bush’s second term, and failed -- in the face of violence and Israeli settlement expansion -- to achieve his goal of reaching in 2008 a framework deal on Palestinian statehood.
Writing by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Ralph Boulton