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Posts tagged ‘Quartet’

Israel: EU’S Growing Concern

On June 3, a few days before the 49th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, diplomats gathered in Paris for a conference framed as a preliminary step towards reviving official Israeli-Palestinian peace talks – though without the presence of either’s respective officials.

The gathering did not amount to much; the final statement was characterized by generalities and included phrases copied and pasted from recent statements issued by the Middle East Quartet, or the Diplomatic Quartet. Read more

Peace in our time?

Recently, and in the last week in particular, there has been a flurry of speculation in the Arab and western media about changes afoot in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and in particular, how the US intends to engage with the conflict and the region as a whole. If the reports and analysis are to be believed, something is shifting, and the various players are staking out their positions in the changing landscape.

One of the main questions being asked is whether the US and Israeli administrations are heading for a conflict. Many answer in the affirmative, including the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall, who yesterday wrote that Israel is “under siege” as PM Netanyahu heads for “showdown talks” with Obama on 18 May. Other commentators have also perceived a “widening rift between the U.S. and Israeli governments”. Read more

Economy first in Palestine?

With Israeli domestic politics focused on the election early next year, the various players are busy manoeuvring themselves into positions they feel will count in their favour come voting day, including Likud’s strong contender, Binyamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his belief that the best way forward with regard to Israeli-Palestinian peace was to prioritise helping the Palestinian economy from the bottom up. Insisting this was not an “alternative” to negotiations, ‘Bibi’ argued that “economic prosperity significantly reduces terror and the foundations of war”. Read more

Peace Process: Has Annapolis Lost Its Appeal?

They are a rare breed, but you can still find them, in positions of political power and newspaper opinion pages. Their motives are mixed, but they have one thing in common; they are optimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian Annapolis peace process. For some, their job requires them to paint a rosy picture about the international community’s ‘peace process’. For others, there is a blind naivety that perhaps this time, the speeches and announcements might actually amount to a positive change. Some of these optimists, desperate to protect Israel from critique and sanction, are compelled to suggest the ‘two sides’ are on the verge of a ‘breakthrough compromise’. Read more

A real peace process?

US support for Israel is public knowledge. The enormous military and economic aid figures are well known, as are the dozens of vetoed UN security council resolutions and “No” votes in the general assembly. The regular votes on Capitol Hill in solidarity with Israel and condemning “Palestinian terrorism” are not secret.

Somehow, however, journalists and analysts continue to maintain the fiction that the US-driven “peace process” is a sincere attempt at securing a just solution to the conflict in Palestine/Israel. The most that is ever acknowledged is that in the “Arab world” the US has a problem in perception as an “honest broker”; the weightiest criticism, incredibly, is that Washington is not doing enough. Read more

Blair is Right Man for the Job, Indeed

As soon as it was confirmed that Tony Blair would be taking up the role of special envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the Quartet (USA, EU, UN and Russia), typical reactions ranged from skepticism to mockery. However, the choice of Blair is only incredible if one takes at face value the stated function and intent of the Quartet regarding the ‘peace process’. Most mainstream commentators, therefore, have missed a trick.

Some have coyly hinted at the fact that Blair will be an ‘unpopular’ or ‘controversial’ choice of envoy in the Middle East (without going into any of the gruesome details). Others have gone further, highlighting specific Blair policies in the Middle East and concluding that the Quartet could have made a better selection. Common amongst all these approaches though is that the Quartet’s intentions are placed beyond serious critique. On closer inspection, the Quartet and Blair are a perfect match for each other, having been consistently on the same wavelength both in terms of practical strategies and the corresponding informing ideology. Read more