J'lem hopes Quartet will come out against PA's UN bid

European Parliament members say bid counterproductive; resolution must be submitted to UN by end of week to meet September deadline.

July 9, 2011 23:27
3 minute read.
Members of the Middle East Quartet

quartet REUTERS 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Jerusalem is bracing for a busy diplomatic week, beginning on Monday with a meeting of the Quartet in Washington, continuing Tuesday with an Arab League meeting that will discuss the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, and concluding with Friday’s deadline by which the PA must submit a resolution for statehood to the UN secretary-general if it wants the Security Council to take up the matter during the September General Assembly.

Israel is hoping that the Quartet issues a statement echoing one it released in February saying that it “strongly reaffirms that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.”

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The Quartet meeting – made up of the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is expected to be attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon.

Israeli officials have expressed concern that in an attempt to dissuade the Palestinians from going to the UN in September, the Quartet might propose a formula for re-starting negotiations based on US President Barack Obama’s comments in May about starting talks on the pre-67 lines with mutually agreed land swaps as a baseline.

The concern in Jerusalem is that the EU, Russia and the UN want to see those parameters formalized, without adding in what Obama also said in his speech at the State Department and a couple days later at AIPAC, signaling Israel as a Jewish state and the need for iron clad security guarantees.

According to some diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be amenable to entering talks along the parameters of the pre-67 lines with mutually agreed swaps, if the formula also included such “sweeteners” as a reference to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and that an agreement would signify the end of conflict.

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Israeli officials said that while certain European officials were pushing for an acceptance of the Obama parameters as a framework of talks, without reference to what Israel wants inside the formula, this is unlikely to be accepted because of US objections.

Israeli diplomatic officials, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction at a letter some 100 members of the European Parliament sent to Ashton Friday calling on her, as well as the 27 EU member states, “to discourage unilateral Palestinian efforts to attain UN recognition.”

According to the letter, signed by parliament members from throughout the EU and across the political spectrum, “It is precisely because we believe in the justness of the Palestinian cause that we urge them to refrain from seeking UN recognition of a unilaterally declared state, a counterproductive step we fear could set back the chances for peace. Instead, Palestinians and Israelis should immediately resume negotiations.”

The letter stated that “both sides will have to make difficult compromises to reach an agreement.”

But, it added, “Palestinian unilateralism at the UN would erode the room for such compromises by committing current and future Palestinians to non-negotiated positions. A unilateral move will not bring reconciliation; it will not bring stability; it will not bring peace. Rather, it will most likely fell the peace process for good.”

The letter continued that “The prospect of UN recognition raises unrealistic expectations among Palestinians that they soon will have a sovereign state. But a UN vote will not change the reality on the ground and thus disappoint many Palestinians. Such disappointment has in the past often ignited new violence.”

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