EU Foreign Policy Chief: Netanyahu, Abbas Have Agreed to Cooperate With Quartet Report on Peace Process

Netanyahu's bureau denies reported commitment to new Quartet report, which diplomats say is mainly a way for the group to retain its control over diplomatic developments in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

Netanyahu shaking hands with EU foreign policy chief Fedrica Mogherini in Jerusalem, 2015.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to cooperate with the process of compiling a European Union report on the freeze in the peace process, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said over the weekend.

The report was agreed on by the foreign ministers of the Quartet – comprising the United States, Russia, the EU and the United Nations – at a meeting on the fringes of the Security Conference in Munich on Friday.

"We have decided to immediately work together on a report, which will include recommendations for relaunching the two-state perspective," Mogherini wrote on her blog over the weekend.

"We will do this in coordination with the UN Security Council and with the main regional actors: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia – on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative."

Mogherini, who spoke with both Netanyahu and Abbas on Friday, said the report will be compiled in coordination with the two sides and stressed that both leaders had "assured to me their willingness to engage in this new process."

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office denied that Netanyahu has agreed to cooperate with the compiling of the report. "Mogherini did not speak with the prime minister about the Quartet report [on Friday] and Netanyahu hasn't agreed to it," they said.

Despite Mogherini's efforts to portray the report as a new diplomatic initiative, Western diplomats who participated in the half-hour Quartet meeting were less enthusiastic. According to them, the announcement of the report was mainly intended to create a new mechanism that will keep control over international efforts regarding the Israel-Palestinian issue firmly in the hands of Quartet members and prevent other initiatives such as that of France to convene an international peace conference.

The report is "not a new peace initiative," said a Western diplomat who asked to remain anonymous. "It’s a way to keep the Quartet front and center, and to control the process. It is a tool we can use in showing that the Quartet is doing something and to push back on some of the initiatives we don’t like."

The diplomat said that the report is expected to be relatively short. It will be compiled by envoys of the Quartet and will be submitted to the foreign ministers, who will decide if and how to use it.

It is intended to be an extended version of the different announcements made by the Quartet over the past year, dealing with trends on the ground that endanger the chances of implementing a two-state solution and proposing steps that both sides should take in order to stabilize the situation and emerge from the freeze.

The report is expected to refer to issues such as Palestinian incitement, construction in settlements and the demolishing of Palestinian homes, settler violence against Palestinians and Palestinian attacks on Israelis, improving governance in the Palestinian Authority and the situation in the Gaza Strip.