Unveiled in June 2002 by President Bush, the "roadmap to peace" proposes a series of steps Israeli and Palestinian leaders should take to resolve their longstanding conflict.
The U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia drew up the roadmap. While it's not a specific agreement or treaty, it is a blueprint designed to help the two parties in their negotiation processes with outside assistance from the international community. Ultimately, its goal is to establish a free, independent Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with Israel by 2005 at the latest.
The plan provides a general timetable for when certain steps need to be accomplished, but lacks specific solutions to the most contentious issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians. In a deliberate attempt to not overstep any grounds, it leaves it to the two sides to negotiate an agreement over how the holy city of Jerusalem will be governed, for example.
The roadmap consists of three phases. In phase one, the Palestinian leadership has been asked to crack down on militant groups operating within the so-called occupied territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and prevent them from carrying out further attacks on Israelis. This was to have been completed by May 2003. The Palestinian leadership is also to begin taking steps to establish a democratic state by setting a timetable for free elections within the territories.
Meanwhile, Israel was asked to withdraw its troops to positions they held as of September 28, 2000 and dismantle outpost communities on the West Bank, which had been established since 2001. Israel is also to put a freeze on the construction of any further settlements in the territories.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, both sides are to issue statements explicitly acknowledging the other's right to exist as an independent state.
"Phase II starts after Palestinian elections and ends with [the] possible creation of an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders in 2003," according to the roadmap. During this phase, the focus will be primarily on establishing a viable Palestinian government and helping to raise the standard of living for those within the territories.
After elections are held, an international conference is to be convened to hammer out important details such as exactly where the borders of the new Palestinian state would exist. The roadmap is not specific in saying what should happen to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank during these negotiations. Currently, there are 200,000 Israelis living in the territories.
In phase three, scheduled for 2004-2005, the two sides are to establish a permanent arrangement, which effectively ends the conflict. As part of this deal, Israel ends its occupation of the territories and the two sides negotiate a "resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides.”
To read the complete text of the roadmap, click here.