General leaves ‘road map’ duties

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The U.S. general in charge of monitoring Israeli and Palestinian compliance with peace agreements has moved on.

Gen. William Fraser was confirmed Oct. 2 as vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that the promotion means that Fraser has “moved on” from his role monitoring compliance with the “road map,” the vision of a two-state solution outlined by President Bush in 2002 and backed by the international community.

Fraser’s move comes as the Bush administration is insisting that the sides may yet come to an agreement before Bush leaves office in January.

Fraser reportedly was frustrated with Israel’s reluctance to facilitate Palestinian movement and to accelerate the establishment of a Palestinian Authority security force. The Bush administration believes the measures are necessary to help face down the Islamist challenge to moderate forces in the West Bank; Israeli officials are concerned that the Palestinians are not yet ready to contain terrorism.

“He got farther than anybody has ever gotten,” McCormack said of Fraser, “in terms of trying to have each side speak in concrete terms about things like checkpoints and roadblocks, and to not just focus on, you know, gross numbers – 15 checkpoints or 15 roadblocks have been removed – but what is the actual effect, the economic effect, the effect on Palestinians’ daily lives, and the security effect for the Israelis of removing a given checkpoint or roadblock.”

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israel still has much to do in easing Palestinian movement.

“While there have been some lowered restrictions to access and movement, more progress needs to be made in order for Palestinian businesspeople and workers to be able to conduct business in an environment in which they can thrive,” Rice said Tuesday, addressing a meeting of the Palestinian Business and Investment Forum in Washington.

The forum is a recent public-private initiative aimed at seeding money into Palestinian infrastructure.

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