Quartet to Give Recommendations on De-escalation of Israeli-Palestinian Violence, Advancing Two-state Solution

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Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during clashes near Betunia after a demonstration, February 12, 2016.
Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during clashes near Betunia after a demonstration, February 12, 2016.Credit: AFP

The foreign ministers of the Quartet on the Middle East have decided at the end of their meetings on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich to formulate a report on the situation in the West Bank. The report will include recommendations for measures to de-escalate the violence and promote a two-state solution, said the statement distributed at the end of the meeting.

"The Quartet reaffirms its commitment to act in coordination with key stakeholders, including regional countries and the UN Security Council, to stabilize the situation and to actively support a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," read the statement. "In that regard, the Quartet will prepare a report on the situation on the ground, including recommendations that can help inform international discussions on the best way to advance the two-state solution."

It's not entirely clear from the announcement made by the Quartet, which consists of the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, if the report will present recommendations for practical actions or whether it will also include policy recommendations on principles for resolving the conflict or the resumption of peace talks.

The fact that the statement referred to the activities of the UN Security Council raises the possibility that the announcement was in preparation for a broader international political move.

Members of the Quartet expressed their concern regarding trends on the ground, including violence directed at civilians, construction in the settlements and the demolition of Palestinian houses, all of which “are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.” In their announcement, they stated that unilateral steps by Israel or the Palestinians cannot predetermine the results of negotiations.

The foreign ministers of the Quartet further emphasized that the status quo cannot continue and that there is an urgent need to take steps that will concord with a process of transition to a two-state reality, as decided upon in earlier agreements between the two sides. “The continued absence of such steps was leading to further deterioration, to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.” The Quartet underscored that through policies and actions both sides must swiftly demonstrate a genuine commitment to a two-state solution in order to rebuild trust and avoid a cycle of escalation.

Quartet members condemned all acts of terror and expressed their deep concern at the ongoing assaults on civilians. They urged sides to show restraint and avoid incitement, calling on them to take action to dispel tensions and block further escalation.