Diplomacy won’t work when one side doesn’t deliver

While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pushing the Middle East roadmap to both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says it’s time to abandon the plan.

“Diplomacy is important and has a vital role to play, but its function must be different than the Oslo process and the roadmap suggest,” he writes in a paper in the summer edition of Middle East Quarterly. “The focus on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy cannot work when one side has a leadership that does not deliver on its word.”

In a paper titled, “Defeat Terror, Not Roadmap Diplomacy,” Gingrich, like Rice, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, says talks with the Palestinian Authority should stop until it fulfills its promise to dismantle all terrorist infrastructures.

“Diplomats, by their nature, believe in talk and in paper,” he wrote. “They value meetings and agreements. But in order for diplomacy to work, negotiators must be honest brokers willing to keep commitments.”

The roadmap, developed by the Bush administration during early 2003 in cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, makes clear that all sides must make tangible steps toward a two-state vision. But, so far, says Gingrich, the Palestinian Arabs have failed to meet the test.

Gingrich called for less restraint by the Israel Defense Forces and a more aggressive military response to attacks on Israeli civilians.

“When a neighborhood shelters terrorists, it should not be surprised at a violent response,” he insisted. “When a rocket or mortar is fired from a neighborhood, people should expect retaliatory fire. When someone advocates killing Israelis, they should expect to be killed by those they plan to kill.”

Gingrich added: “The primary requirement for peace should be the destruction of the terrorists. This inherently is not a diplomatic task. Smoke and mirrors will not work.”