Gulf News
August 23, 2010 - 12:00am

In theory, the premise of the direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis is almost utopian. According to the brief, released by the Quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — the negotiations would last for one year and are supposed to "resolve all final status issues".

Those issues include borders, refugees and, of course, the fate of Occupied Jerusalem. The negotiations should also "lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state". Very nice indeed.

However, the Quartet seems to have forgotten one minor thing: There is hardly any territory left on which the Palestinians can create their state. Israel refused to halt colony expansion, despite the repeated warnings of the US and EU that this would sabotage the peace process.

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made halting the colony activities a precondition to resuming negotiations. Israel also rejected that.

In the end, Benjamin Netanyahu got his way in the form of negotiations that will drag on for as long as he wants, allowing him to complete his plan to control all of Occupied Jerusalem and expel its residents.

The colonies have become a ground reality, which makes it difficult to dismantle them. Thus, the Quartet's statement, which calls on "both sides to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric" didn't define "provocative actions". The Quartet is only concerned with the rhetoric. Meanwhile, the provocative land grabs and the detention of more than 11,000 Palestinians, including children, women and senior politicians in Israeli jails continues.

The farcical statement issued by the Quartet will not lead to a serious peace process. It has accepted Israeli conditions and ignored the legitimate concerns of the Palestinians. These negotiations will not work as they are again being held on Israeli terms.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017