Whither the Quartet?

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The Jerusalem Post reports that in its latest statement the Middle East Quartet is equating acts of violence on the part of the Palestinian population and on the part of the Jewish settlers who live in Judea and Samaria. And it condemns violence from both sides equally. This is a false and outrageous comparison which bears no relationship to the facts on the ground. The fact is the Jewish settlers almost never engage in violence against Palestinian people or property, while Palestinians almost never stop throwing rocks (an Molotov cocktails) at Israeli individuals and vehicles.

One victim of these attacks, Asher Palmer, and his infant son, Jonathan, were killed when a Palestinian threw a large rock at their car and it went off the road. Then in March 2011 Palestinian youths butchered the Fogel family in their sleep on the Itamar settlement with kitchen knives, including a three-month-old baby. Catherine Ashton, one of the Quartet’s key figures, added insult to injury by equating the killing of children in Gaza during IAF aerial retaliation for Hamas rocket fire to the cold-blooded murders of Jewish children in Toulouse, France by a crazed Muslim. These are only the most recent cases of Quartet insensibility and nonsense. The group has been in existence since 2002, and in all that time and despite hours and hours of effort and diplomacy, it has achieved nothing. There is a long chain of reasoning (or lack thereof) behind this reality.

The international Quartet is a political body comprised of the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN whose purpose is to encourage and coordinate peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Since its founding in 2002 the Quartet has launched a number of initiatives and made numerous statements regarding its positions on Palestinian/Israeli negotiations for peace. The Quartet even predicted the establishment of a Palestinian state by September 2011. What has this august group of nations achieved in nine years? What achievements can it point to? What exactly is the Quartet’s track record?

The group was established in Madrid in 2002 by then Spanish Prime Minister Aznar, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Former British PM Tony Blair is the Quartet’s current Special Envoy.

The events of the Second Intifada in Israel motivated the creation of the Quartet. Launching the Intifada was Yasser Arafat’s tactic for addressing the collapse of the Oslo peace negotiations at Camp David in the summer of 2000. Arafat has been roundly indicted for the tragic failure of these talks, but he reacted with a wave of brutal terrorism nonetheless. The year 2002 represents a peak in the terrorist violence in Israel and Israel’s determined counter-reaction.

The suicide attack on March 27, 2002 at the Passover seder in Netanya’s Park Hotel, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

IDF Operation Defensive Shield was launched two days later on March 29, and continued intensively through April 21.

A reserve force of 30,000 was called up, and they occupied the major cities of the West Bank, including Tulkarm, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqilya, and Bethlehem.

In response to this bitter war for survival Israel was forced to fight against Islamic terrorism, the Quartet proposed an evenhanded “Roadmap for Peace.” As explained by the Middle East Quarterly:

On April 30, 2003, following the swift collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad, the Bush administration released the latest plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, a document entitled A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The declared destination of the “roadmap” was “a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005.

In the summer of 2000, the government of Israel and the Palestinian leadership seemed to be on the brink of consummating a final agreement for partition and peace. However, once again the Palestinian refusal to legitimize Israel led to an eleventh-hour rejection of partition and the launching of a new war, the so-called Al-Aqsa intifada.

The year 2003 was another ugly scenario in Israel with suicide bombings from the Islamic terrorists against innocent civilians and other murderous attacks. Peace was nowhere in sight. Israel was under brutal attack from vicious Palestinian terrorists. The 2003 Quartet roadmap comprised three goal-driven phases with the ultimate goal of ending the conflict as early as 2005.

With all due respect to the merit of proposing a peace program for Israel and the Palestinians something critical was missing from the Quartet’s proposal:

“The roadmap is yet one more effort to engineer a two-state solution, another attempt to achieve, by diplomacy, what has yet to be achieved by history: Palestinian acceptance of Israel,” as Daniel Mandel of the MEQ put it.

It should come as no surprise that the state of Israel rejected the Quartet Roadmap

On May 12, 2003 it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had rejected Israel’s main roadmap requirement, a settlement freeze, as “impossible” due to the need for settlers to build new houses and start families.

On May 25, 2003 the Israeli government announced fourteen prerequisites before acceptance of any peace platform.

The first step on the roadmap was the appointment of the first-ever Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The United States and Israel demanded that Arafat be neutralized or sidelined in the roadmap process, claiming that he had not done enough to stop Palestinian attacks against Israelis while in charge. The United States refused to release the roadmap until a Palestinian prime minister was in place. Abbas was appointed on March 19, 2003, clearing the way for the release of the roadmap’s details on April 30, 2003.

The Prime Minister’s Cabinet approved the roadmap with 14 reservations.

President Bush visited the Middle East from June 2–4, 2003 for two summits in an attempt to push the roadmap as part of a seven-day overseas trip through Europe and Russia.

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  • Andream

    Usually I do not agree with the likening of settler on Palestinian violence to Palestinian on settler violence (or any moral parallel between terror activity and israeli response), but in this case, I think it should be strongly stated that Israel does not condone ANY vigilante violence by settlers – it is outside of the law, it is disrespectful of the law of the land and it should not be ignored or dismissed. If Israel does not want the Quartet and other groups commenting or condemning the actions of the settlers, then Israel must do so with conviction and action.