Op-Ed: Whither the Useless Quartet?
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.
The Quartet’s Roadmap was a guide for Israeli funeral processions and not a productive diplomatic undertaking for peace by any means.
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 even handed “Roadmap for Peace”.
“ 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 road map 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 is 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.”
It should come as no surprise that the state of Israel rejected the Quartet Road Map.
On May 12, 2003 it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had rejected Israel's main road map 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 road map 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 road map process, claiming that he had not done enough to stop Palestinian attacks against Israelis while in charge.
The United States refused to release the road map until a Palestinian prime minister was in place. Abbas was appointed on March 19, 2003, clearing the way for the release of the road map's details on April 30, 2003.
The Prime Minister's Cabinet then approved the road map with 14 reservations.
President Bush visited the Middle East from June 2–4, 2003 for two summits in an attempt to push the road map as part of a seven-day overseas trip through Europe and Russia.
After Bush left the region, the Palestinians launched a series of terror attacks against Israelis. This threatened to derail the road map plan. On June 15 Israeli forces entered Gaza killing a Palestinian. In the following few days, Israel continued its targeting of Hamas leaders with new helicopter attacks.
Clearly, the Quartet’s Roadmap was a guide for Israeli funeral processions and not a productive diplomatic undertaking for peace by any means.
In November 2003, the United Nations Security Council endorsed the road map in Resolution 1515 which called for an end to all violence including "terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction". But the requirements of Phase I of the road map were not fulfilled, and the road map was discontinued. It is thus currently effectively in limbo.
In November 2004, Yasser Arafat died at age 75 in a French hospital. Arafat's powers were divided among his officials, with Mahmoud Abbas elected head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Rawhi Fattuh sworn in as acting president of the Palestinian Authority.
In August 2005, the Israelis started their planned disengagement from the Gaza Strip, removing all of its settlements from this area and from a portion of the West Bank. This was widely endorsed around the world and the process, although unilateral on Israel's part, was coordinated with the Palestinian Authority.
In early January 2006, Sharon suffered a major stroke and did not awaken from a deep coma. With Sharon in serious condition in hospital, his powers were transferred to his deputy, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert.. On March 28, Knesset elections were held, and Olmert's party, Kadima, won the most seats. On April 14, 2006 Sharon was declared permanently disabled, and Olmert was named interim Prime Minister, becoming Prime Minister on May 4.
It was Prime Mininster Olmert who oversaw the disastrous Israeli disengagement from the Gaza perimeter communities. This was a tremendous political and social tragedy on every plane. And the country is still licking its wounds from this six years later
The Quartet for its part however reacted positively.
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, commented on August 18, 2005 on what he called Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s "courageous decision" to carry through with the painful process of disengagement. And what rewards did Israel receive following the bold disengagement from the Gaza perimeter communities? Over the next two years the Hamas Islamic terror gang which controls Gaza fired thousands of lethal rockets at Israel’s southern communities, particularly Sderot.
Israel began planning for a military operation as early as six months before the invasion of Gaza by collecting critical intelligence on potential targets. Defense minister Ehud Barak stated that the offensive was the result of Israel’s "patience running out" over the rocket attacks According to Israeli officials, its subsequent December 27 offensive took Hamas by surprise, thereby increasing terrorist casualties. This was the launch of Operation Cast Lead, which lasted a few weeks and did its job. Hamas halted its massive launching of lethal rockets into Israeli territory. Although they continue to launch rockets and mortars at Israel and IDF forces from time to time.
The Quartet issued no statement on Operation Cast Lead.
The United Nations reaction to Operation Cast Lead was the Goldstone Report however.
The Quartet never issued a statement pro or con about the malicious deceitful Goldstone Report either.
What about Annapolis?
The Annapolis Conference was a Middle East peace conference held on November 27, 2007, at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, USA. The conference marked the first time a two-state solution was articulated as the mutually agreed-upon outline for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conference ended with the issuing of a joint statement from all parties.
Needless to say, no positive results whatsoever came out of the vaunted Annapolis Conference.
There is no record of a Quartet statement on Israel’s 2006 Second Lebanon War, but this is perhaps because it was a Lebanese not a Palestinian issue.
But the nonexistence of a Quartet statement on the Second Lebanon War is immaterial. It does not matter one bit what the Quartet says about issues concerning Israeli Palestinian peace or a so-called two state solution. The Quartet has proven since its establishment in 2002 and the launch of the so-called Roadmap for Peace a year later that it is a completely useless and ineffectual body.
And its idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the UN is comparable to a woman who believes she can give birth in one month following conception. This is not likely to happen in this or any universe. The only state the Palestinians will achieve through the auspices of the UN is a state of mind.