CMEP Bulletin: The Quartet Plan, Palestinian Aid, and Facts on the Ground
With the Palestinian initiative at the UN on hold as the Security Council considers their application for full membership, focus has shifted to Jerusalem and Ramallah and what the real-world implications of this efforts will be.
Outside the unique diplomatic scene in New York debate continues about the proposal and timeline presented by the Middle East Quartet on September 23.
While both Israeli and Palestinian officials expressed reservations about the proposal last week, further official statements leave the door open to the possibility of negotiations, while also carefully couching the varying concerns in an effort to deflect blame, should negotiations not follow. Israel announced this week that it will accept the timeline with “some concerns,” that officials plan to raise at a later time. Palestinians also indicated that they found “encouraging elements” in the Quartet proposal but reiterated that they will not return to negotiations without a settlement freeze.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland released an optimistic statement on Sunday saying, “We welcome the Israeli government’s announcement today expressing readiness to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, as called for by the Quartet. The Palestinians expressed support for the Quartet approach on September 29.”
The State Department’s rosy reading of the Israeli reaction to the Quartet plan coincided with a warning issued by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during his first trip to Israel as a cabinet member. Panetta warned of Israel’s growing isolation in a rapidly changing region. En route to Israel he told reporters, “Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena? Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength.”
Panetta is not the only ally to carry words of warning to the Israeli government. In a personal phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her anger at the announced approval of 1,100 new housing units in the Israeli settlement of Gilo, located on the southern edges of East Jerusalem. Merkel was one of the leading European voices in opposition to the Palestinian efforts at the UN and urge President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table.
Despite the daunting obstacles to negotiations, Quartet representatives will meet in Brussels this weekend to discuss ways to get the parties back to direct talks.
(Visit CMEP’s website for a closer look at the Middle East Quartet plan and responses.)
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Congress freezes Palestinian aid
“Price tag” violence within Israel
OCHA on movement and access and bedouins
Rock throwing on the rise