Quoted without comment from Agha and Malley’s Three Men in a Boat, published in 2003, other than that this section has stayed with me in the years since it was published and still seems applicable:
Sharon sees the roadmap as a nuisance, Arafat as a diversion; Abu Mazen alone views it as worthwhile, but then again principally as a potential way out of the current mess. None of the three sees it for what it purports to be: a plan designed to reach a final settlement within three years. Not one of them truly believes in the logic of its gradualist, staged approach to peacemaking, which amounts to Oslo under a different name. Like so many plans before it, it is not its direct practical outcome that matters so much as its political effect—how its various actors will exploit it to maximize their very different, even contradictory goals.
In this, Sharon and Arafat bear striking similarities. Neither is in any particular hurry. Sharon believes that time is on his side, enabling him to continue his longstanding territorial expansion and bit by bit to further weaken an adversary he feels is already on the ropes. Arafat considers time his trusted ally as well. At the end of the day the Palestinians will still be there, and Israel, sooner or later, will have to relent. Neither man seems to fear the chaos and tumult of the present; each seems to believe he can endure it better than the other can. Power, they have learned, comes from surviving instability, not from seeking to end it. Both understand that to project a sense of desperation is already to have lost the war. Both know that roadmap or no roadmap, the battle must go on, in a shape and with an intensity yet to be determined.