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Quartet Anti-Palestinian Statehood Proposal

QuartetQuartet representatives UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Middle East envoy Tony Blair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Representative Catherine Aston explained its elements.

On September 21, an initial statement "expressed its strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which can resolve all final status issues within one year."

"The Quartet reaffirmed its full commitment to its previous statements, which provide that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors."

"In the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet called on Arab states to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and progress on the other tracks by taking bolder steps to foster positive relations throughout the region and to combat violence and extremism."

"Recalling that change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority's August 2009 plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state within two years."

Quartet members established a timeline for "realistic and serious" negotiations to begin in a month. They hope for comprehensive proposals within three months, substantial progress in six, and a firm deal by end of 2012.

An international conference in Moscow was also proposed once "substantial progress" has been made on "comprehensive proposals."

In addition, a Donors Conference will convene to support "state-building actions developed by Prime Minister Fayyad under the leadership of President Abbas."

"The Quartet agreed to meet regularly" to monitor events and propose recommendations.

A follow-up September 23 statement:

Notably, the proposal excludes key issues, including settlements, 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital, Gaza's siege, diaspora Palestinians right of return, and their legitimate elected Hamas government, among others.

As a result, it's offensive and demeaning, treating Palestinians like children ordered to obey or be spanked.

It's little more than old wine in new bottles to deny statehood and keep Palestine oppressively occupied in perpetuity.

Ma'an News said Egypt's interim Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said the Quartet's proposal represents "another failure."

Addressing the General Assembly on September 24, he said:

Egypt "was, and will remain, committed to the goal of achieving just and comprehensive (Middle East) peace."

However, the Quartet failed to make progress. Friday, "(w)e have witnessed....another failure....to come up with a balanced vision to achieve the goal that we all know and approve of yet differ on how to realize it."

On September 23, Abbas petitioned the Security Council for statehood and full UN membership. If implemented, the Quartet proposal will consign it to memory hole oblivion.

Rhetoric aside, Israel, Washington, key EU allies, and Ban Ki-moon aim to bury it this way. In other words - delay, delay until going, going gone and forgotten.

Early Reactions

On September 24, Haaretz writers Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff headlined, "Palestinian FM rejects Quartet proposal for not addressing settlements, Israeli withdrawal," saying:

On Saturday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki "rejected (the) Quartet's proposal to renew peace negotiations...."

On an unnamed Palestinian radio station, he said it doesn't "call for a settlement freeze and an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and therefore isn't sufficient."

An unnamed US official called the proposal "realistic and serious," saying it provides:

"a credible, serious alternative path and we believe that both sides, if they're true to their words, will find a way to respond favorably to this."

No matter that decades of "peace talks" failed, including:

  • Camp David I;
  • Madrid;
  • Oslo;
  • Oslo II;
  • a 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations;
  • a Cairo Agreement on Gaza and the Jericho Area the same year;
  • the 1994 Washington Declaration and Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities between the two parties;
  • the 1995 Protocol on Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities; it included an agreement to resume "permanent status" talks and discuss other elements of a peace plan relating to Israeli troops redeployments, land transfers, safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, a Gaza seaport, prisoner releases, and various issues related to security, normal civilian activities, international donor aid, and a timetable for final status talks;
  • the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum;
  • Camp David II;
  • the "Road Map;"
  • Anapolis; and
  • the stalled September 2010 grand illusion fudged to look real like all previous failures.

In fact, on and off for decades, negotiations were stillborn from inception because Israel and Washington won't tolerate peace. They demand unconditional surrender and permanent occupation.

Only Israeli demands matter. Palestinians always got take it or leave it deals. As a result, they never had a legitimate peace partner and don't now, dealing with Israel's most extremist ever government under Netanyahu.

He deplores peace. He once called negotiations "a waste of time," and never does it in good faith. Moreover, Washington agrees to whatever Israel wants, making a mockery of serious talks.

Longtime Israeli analyst Gideon Levy agrees. On September 25, his Haaretz article headlined, "Netanyahu proved Israel doesn't want peace," saying:

His General Assembly address showed "Palestinians (and the world) can no longer expect anything from Israel. Nothing."

"Netanyahu, peddler of emotions, did not shrink from or forget anything (in reviewing) thousands of years of history to obscure reality...."

Those with him in New York "said it all, (a) cheerleading squad, (including) two kippa-wearers, two generals, two former Russians, three current beard-wearers - a depressing and threatening group portrait of Israel's extreme right, class of 2011."

Israel's true face leaves Palestinians on their own with no legitimate peace partner. In fact, Israel won't tolerate peace, Palestinian statehood, or ending its 44 year occupation.

On Saturday, nonetheless, Abbas again said he'll consider all "solution(s) that can last and end the conflict."

"We realize that the parties who suggest initiatives either seek to reach a solution quickly or to prevent any solution....We will see what the days bring, but expect good things....We are talking about weeks, not months."

Aboard his plane back home, he told reporters:

"When settlement expansion continues, and when Israel considers that an accomplished fact, we will not accept it because it will be a real threat to the presence of the Palestinian Authority. That is what I said, and here I say it again."

A Final Comment

On return to Ramallah, Haaretz said Abbas called Netanyahu Israel's most inflexible leader, saying:

"Benjamin Netanyahu's ideological positions do not allow him to advance forward," stopping short of saying negotiating with him is impossible.

It's also true of Foreign MInister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a longtime ultranationalist extremist.

On September 25, he told Israeli Army Radio that there will be unspecified "tough repercussions" if Palestine's statehood application is approved.

Specifically referring to possible General Assembly passage, he said:

"If the Palestinians will indeed pass a one-sided resolution if not in the Security Council then the General Assembly, that would bring us to an altogether new situation and this would have repercussions, tough repercussions. Any unilateral step will without a doubt bring an Israeli reaction."

At the same time, he and Netanyahu welcome the Quartet's proposal. They know it promises failure, again shattering Palestinian hopes.

In fact, smart money bets on it because neither side is serious about what Palestinians want and deserve but won't get.

Maybe next time, not now. It's for Palestinians on their own to prove them wrong.


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