Chilean folksinger Victor Jara once sang about "working at the beginning of a story without knowing the end." It aptly describes the proposed "Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"the "road map" to peacerecently presented to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly approved Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Last summer, President Bush delivered a major speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supporting the creation of a Palestinian state preconditioned on a change in Palestinian leadership. Along with the European Union, Russia, and the United Nationsthe "Quartet"it resulted in the development of the road map in September 2002.
Its formal presentation was derailed by the U.S. administration's focus on the war with Iraq, until mid-March when Bushunder pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blairreluctantly pledged to release and support the plan.
The road map outlines a series of reciprocal steps to be taken by both Israel and the Palestinians, with the promise of "an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel" by 2005. It proposes three phases, with completion of each leading to the next.