US road map monitor given new post - back home
By YAAKOV KATZ,HERB KEINON andHILARY LEILA KRIEGER
The Jerusalem Post 23 April 2008
The United States has given the general charged with monitoring the road map
a new job five months after he assumed the post, leaving Israeli officials
in limbo as to whom they will be working with as they pursue a peace deal
with the Palestinians.
Air Force Lt.-Gen. William M. Fraser III was nominated last week to become
the commander of the United States Transportation Command headquartered at
Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, a job that would make it all but
impossible for him to continue monitoring Palestinian and Israeli adherence
to the road map.
The monitor role has been a major new American responsibility intended to
help move along the peace process, which aims for a historic agreement by
the end of the year. Though Fraser will have to be confirmed by the US
Senate before assuming the new post, a process that could take several
months, his nomination raises fresh questions about American commitment to
the peace negotiations the US helped reignite last November in Annapolis,
where the monitor role was announced.
It has also left Israeli officials unclear about their interlocutors as they
address sensitive issues of road map compliance, which requires Palestinians
to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and take other security-related steps
while Israel must freeze settlement activity and dismantle illegal outposts.
Defense officials said they were waiting for clarification from the Pentagon
on whether Fraser would continue in his position. Officials said that
following Fraser's appointment in November, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
ordered the IDF to open all of its doors to the US general. He has met
extensively with Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's
Diplomatic-Security Bureau, OC Central Command Maj.- Gen. Gadi Shamni and
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef
"We have invested a lot in Fraser," one senior defense official said. "It
would be unfortunate if he left at this stage and we had to start all over
again with someone else."
US officials said that despite Fraser's promotion there were no plans to
replace him now. Fraser, who served in the past as an advisor to US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was considered to be very well versed
in the details of the road map and what both sides are doing on the ground.
While there are indications that he could continue in his present capacity
at least until after the US presidential election in November, the timeframe
is dependent on the confirmation process.
Though confirmations can drag on for months, the Senate usually addresses
them within one to three months of their announcement, and the Senate is
likely to consider Fraser's new role - as well as the recommendation that he
receive a fourth star - before its summer recess.
A US Defense Department official could not specify the timeframe, but noted
that Fraser's new responsibilities were a " functional command" that would
make it highly unlikely he could continue with his road map
He said it was not yet clear whether Air Force Maj.-Gen. Paul J. Selva, who
has been nominated to assume Fraser's current post as assistant to the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, would also take
over his road map monitor assignment.
The White House, which made the nomination, did not respond to a request for
clarification by deadline.
An official in the Foreign Ministry said the ministry had not heard of any
plans to replace the US general.
After his appointment, there was speculation that Fraser would publicly
grade the sides on their road map commitments. This never materialized, and
Fraser has instead preferred to work quietly with Israel and the PA, by
holding joint meetings.
Under the first stage of the road map, the Palestinians is to take a number
of serious steps to disrupt terrorist infrastructure and Israel is to stop
settlement construction and dismantle West Bank outposts established after