CMEP Bulletin: The Quartet, Panetta, U.S. Aid, and more
The Quartet Dance
The game of political hot potato continues as Palestinians continue to avoid direct talks with Israel and Israel declines to submit a proposal on borders and security to the Middle East Quartet.
Ynet News reported last week that Saeb Erekat submitted the Palestinian proposal on borders November 14 in a meeting with the Quartet representatives, well ahead of the January 26 deadline proposed by the Quartet in October. The map was marked with the 1967 borders, together with Palestinians proposals for a 1.9 percent land swap. Palestinians made a similar proposal to Israel in 2008.
However, Prime Minister Netanyahu “balked” and has declined to submit a counterproposal, insisting that any proposal should be presented in direct negotiations with Palestinians, not through the Quartet. The Netanyahu government has not endorsed the 2008 proposals of its predecessor, nor has it as yet made border proposals of its own.
This week, the Israeli government explained their unwillingness to submit a proposal by criticizing the Palestinians and the Quartet’s process. Yoaz Hendel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s communications director said that the Palestinian Authority is avoiding direct negotiations by using the Quartet as a proxy. “The Palestinians are playing the blame game,” Hendel said. “They are presenting proposals to the Quartet, instead of to Israel, with their objective being to avoid direct talks and instead do everything through the Quartet.”
Palestinians are reluctant to enter into direct negotiations due to the inherent power imbalance, unless Israel agrees to the conditions set forth by the Obama administration in May.
On October 26, the Quartet called for the sides to present comprehensive proposals within 90 days. Palestinians interpreted that to mean that the sides were to present the proposals to the Quartet, but Israel interpreted it to mean that the sides would present the proposals to each other 90 days after the direct negotiations started.
The Quartet representatives will return to the region next week in hopes of finding the right formula to start direct talks.
Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:
- Panetta speaks out
- Clinton concern on Israeli democracy and restrictions on women
- Israel releases money
- The future of U.S. aid
- Hamas begins to leave Syria
- New settlement poses threat to a viable Palestinian state
- Early Likud elections in Israel
- Extra reading