Oman Tribune (Editorial)
April 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Time and money has again been wasted on the Middle East conflict and its dead peace process. And it’s high time, instead of indulging in these futile exercises, some thing concrete were done. Instead of making some firm moves, the Middle East Quartet’s top diplomats, after a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, came up with a number of appeals that included one to foreign donors to deliver promised aid to the Palestinians. They also urged Israelis and Palestinians to build trust to revive peace talks. Concern was also expressed over the continuing settler violence and unilateral and provocative actions by either party and this includes the building of new settlements and the expansion of existing ones. Of course the statement was not worth the paper on which it was written. The Palestinians expressed disappointment over it, proving once more that the Quartet is not an effective group. Its meetings and statements have never contributed even a wee bit to the peace process even though it has four influential members.

The Quartet’s latest activities comes in the wake of reports that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will hand over to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu a letter from President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting next week, outlining his terms for a talks resumption. Like the Quartet’s meeting, these talks and the letter may turn out to be a waste of precious time and energy. Netanyahu and all the other extremists of his ilk are aware of Abbas’s conditions for resuming talks. At the top of the list is a freeze on settlement activity to which Netanyahu has not agreed so far. And it’s doubtful if he will agree to it next week since settlement building seems to be for him the most apt way to establish his extremist credentials. A freeze on their building will be equal to asphyxiating him.

No one wants to see any kind of escalation of the Middle East conflict. All parties involved are yearning for an end to it. The Arabs want peace but not at the cost of the dignity and honour of the Palestinians. A bold step, no doubt, is needed for peace to take firm roots in the Middle East but the truth is that the Quartet is too weak to make any moves in the right direction. Taking such a step, however, is an imperative and it has to happen soon – perhaps before the end of this year. Only the Americans can take the lead but they are in the midst of a crucial presidential election. Once the results are announced in November and if President Barack Obama wins, he will be in a position to take the bold steps that can be risky without having to fear another election. Who knows waiting until then may prove to be fruitful.


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