The Quartet Is Waiting for Bibi

Israel, and not only the Palestinians, should honor the 'Quartet's conditions.'

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shaking hands with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha, May 5, 2014.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shaking hands with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha, May 5, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

The Quartet died long ago, but the “Quartet’s conditions” remain the three commandments of the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians: refraining from violence, recognizing the neighboring country, and accepting the previous commitments and agreements.

The U.S. administration is demanding that President Mahmoud Abbas have his new government adopt this holy trinity. The European Union is sticking to it as well. Not content to have the Palestinian government fulfill the conditions, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demands that Hamas embrace them as well.

Indeed, these conditions are extremely important. So important and universal that it is only right that every peace-loving country honor them. Israel, too. And see, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the one who made the rule “If they give, they will receive, and if they do not give, they will not receive.” Let us take a look, then, at the extent to which Netanyahu has fulfilled those conditions.

Preventing violence: According to statistics from B’Tselem, about 5,000 Palestinians – among them about 1,000 minors (under the age of 18) – have been killed by Israeli security forces in the territories since the beginning of the second intifada, from September 2000 to 2013.

In all these incidents, seven soldiers were convicted of crimes having to do with the deaths of six civilians.

From 2005 to 2013, only 8.5 percent of the cases under investigation that were opened by the Judea and Samaria District Police – cases in which Israelis allegedly harmed Palestinians or their property – ended in an indictment. The latest human rights report from the U.S. State Department notes that most “terror attacks” by settlers never reach the courts.

Recognition of the right to a state: the Quartet’s Road Map of 2003, which was translated that year into a unanimous Security Council resolution, demands that Israel issue “an unequivocal declaration affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel ...”

Neither government led by Netanyahu ever held a discussion on the topic, and in any case neither government made any decision about it. The institutions of Netanyahu’s party never changed their stance, which absolutely negates the establishment of a Palestinian state. It would be easy to describe the response of ministers Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel to a proposed government decision that included the words “Palestinian state.”

Honoring previous commitments and agreements: In a lecture he gave in Washington last week, Martin Indyk, head of the American negotiating team, condemned the “rampant settlement activity” that Israel engaged in during the nine months of the Kerry peace talks.

Indyk did not mention that this activity constitutes a violation of Israel’s commitment to completely freeze construction in the settlements, including construction needed for natural increase. This commitment, together with the promise to dismantle all the outposts that were established after March 2001, is anchored in the Mitchell Report and the Road Map that was approved by the Likud government. Since then, the number of settlers in the West Bank has increased from about 220,000 to 360,000 people (not including East Jerusalem). Roughly one-third of the increase has taken place in settlements east of the separation barrier.

The “rampant” construction in the settlements and the outposts embodies a violation of the Quartet’s three conditions: it leads to violent acts, sabotages the chance of establishing a viable state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and is a blatant violation of commitments and agreements. Nevertheless, Abbas recognizes the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Bennett government and is even willing to hold virtual talks with it.

The writer is the political affairs commentator of “Israel Plus” on the Al-Monitor news site.

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