Quartet to meet in DC, but peace process expectations low (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 04/11/12)
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Senior Quartet representatives will meet in Washington on Wednesday
amid little expectation that they will have more luck this time kick-
starting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon and Quartet envoy Tony Blair will meet on the
sidelines of the G-8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington and
discuss the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process.
Blair and US Middle East envoy David Hale were in the region last
week holding meetings with the sides and preparing for the Quartet
The meeting comes as a framework for entering into negotiations that
the Quartet unfurled in September at the UN failed to bear fruit.
That framework did lead to low-level talks under Jordanian auspices
in January, but that round ended on January 25 with the Palestinians
saying they would only continue if Israel stopped all settlement
construction, accepted the June 5, 1967, lines as the baseline for
future talks and released a number of Fatah prisoners incarcerated
before the Oslo accords. Israel refused those preconditions.
The September Quartet framework called for an initial meeting between
the two sides within 30 days, leading to the trading of comprehensive
proposals on security and territory within three months, and an
overall agreement by the end of 2012.
The Quartet, whose overall effectiveness has been increasingly
questioned because of Russian-US rivalries that often play out and
render reaching consensus decisions difficult, last met at this level
in March amid the fighting in the South. At that meeting, where
Ashton and Blair joined via video conference, the Quartet issued a
bland statement expressing “concern” about the violence in the South
and calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to “remain engaged”
and “refrain from provocative actions.”
US ambassador Dan Shapiro told The Jerusalem Post last week that the
Quartet wanted to see the discussions that began in Jordan “continue
and get increasingly into the core issues.”
Shapiro said efforts continue to “get the parties to feel that they
can have the kind of discussion that ultimately could produce
progress on some of these core issues – territory and security being
the first pair, and then moving to other issues.”
While the prospects for immediate breakthroughs “are probably not
very bright, that doesn’t mean you can’t make some progress, and set
the groundwork for larger progress at some period of time,” Shapiro
There will likely be “continuity” between the Quartet’s statement in
September and what will emerge from Wednesday’s meeting in
Washington, the US envoy said.
On the eve of the Quartet meeting, the PA announced that it was
seeking a UN Security Council resolution condemning continued
construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.
On Monday, the PA envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, submitted a letter
to the Security Council members and Ban, calling on them to condemn
settlement activity Riyad al-Maliki told Agence France Press.
He said that the letter called for “urgent measures to put pressure
on the occupying power, which is Israel, to compel it to stop these
actions and policies immediately.”
The letter, according to Maliki, warns that Israel’s “illegal and
destructive plans not only inflame tensions but further underscore
the dubious nature of the occupying power’s claims of readiness to
negotiate a peace settlement.”
The letter accuses Israel of working toward destroying the two-state
solution with its continuing illegal settlement campaign. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/11/12)
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