Quartet calls for Palestinian Authority, Israel to curb violence

Members of the Quartet pose in Washington. From left: Quartet envoy Tony Blair, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. (UN)

WASHINGTON (JWN and agencies)—Representatives of the Mideast Quartet—the US, UN, EU, and Russia—met in Washington on Wednesday and issued a statement expressing a review of the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

While most of the statement was a catalogue of the obvious, one new departure was a section that seemed to equate Palestinian terrorism with acts of settler violence.

“Noting the significant progress on security achieved by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the Quartet calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism, and to end incitement,” the statement read.

“The Quartet also expressed its concern over ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank and calls on Israel to take effective measures, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.”

The statement reiterated the Quartet’s call for a comprehensive agreement by the end of 2012, and suggested ways to bring this about.

In the economic area, it noted the “increasing fragility of developments on the ground” and the Palestinian Authority’s economic problems, calling on the world’s countries to “ensure the contribution of $1.1 billion in assistance to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements.”

The Quartet also encouraged greater cooperation between Israel and the PA to “facilitate the social and economic development of Area C, which is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian state as well as for its Palestinian inhabitants to be enabled to lead a normal life.” Area C is the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

The Quartet called the Gaza situation “fragile and unsustainable as long as the West Bank and Gaza are not reunited under the legitimate Palestinian Authority adhering to the PLO commitments.”

As opposed to its “even handed” treatment of violence in the West Bank, the Quartet condemned the rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza while choosing to ignore Israel’s retaliatory strikes. On the other hand, it  “expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations, the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict.”

The meeting was attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Jordan sponsored five rounds of low-level Israel-PA talks in Amman earlier this year.