The Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to cut ties with the Middle East Quartet following the recent publication of the committee’s report on obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace, the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat reported Tuesday.
The move was ordered by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who claims that the international group is backing Israel over the Palestinians, according to al-Hayat.
The Quartet – comprised of the United States, European Union, Russia, and the United Nations – released its report on July 1, and its findings and recommendations were intended to serve as a launching pad for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While the report criticized Israeli policy in the West Bank, it also idenitified Palestinian violence against civilians and — in a first for a major international forum — Palestinian incitement as major obstacles to peace.
The Quartet argued in its report that the “Palestinian Authority should act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to cease incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including by clearly condemning all acts of terrorism.”
“Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks are often glorified publicly as ‘heroic martyrs.’ Many widely circulated images depict individuals committing terrorist acts with slogans encouraging violence,” it added. “Some members of Fatah have publicly supported attacks and their perpetrators, as well as encouraged violent confrontation. In the midst of this recent wave of violence, a senior Fatah official referred to perpetrators as ‘heroes and a crown on the head of every Palestinian.’ Fatah social media has shown attackers superimposed next to Palestinian leaders following terrorist attacks.”
Following the report’s publication, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel “welcomes the Quartet’s recognition of the centrality of Palestinian incitement and violence to the perpetuation of the conflict.”
The prime minister’s statement also took issue with the “myth” perpetuated in the report “that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace,” arguing that “when Israel froze settlements, it did not get peace. When Israel uprooted every settlement in Gaza, it did not get peace. It got war.”
“It is troubling that the Quartet appears to have adopted the position that the presence of Jews living in the West Bank somehow prevents reaching a two-state solution. The presence of nearly 1.8 million Arabs in Israel isn’t a barrier to peace; it is a testament to our pluralism and commitment to equality,” it added.
However, the statement concluded by reiterating Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution and affirming that the Jewish state “will discuss with the Quartet envoys ways to explore moving toward this end.”
The Palestinian Authority, in turn, expressed disappointment that the report criticized both Israelis and Palestinians, with PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat saying “it [did] not meet [Palestinian] expectations” and attempted “to equalize the responsibilities between a people under occupation and foreign military occupier.”
This is not the first time that the PA has accused the Quartet of favoring Israel. In 2015, Abbas refused to meet with former Quartet envoy Tony Blair, allegedly on the basis that Blair was biased toward Israel.
Mohammad Shtayyeh — a member of Fatah’s Central Committee — told al-Hayat that while the PA will no longer work with the Quartet, it will still cooperate with its individual members.
[Photo: Flash 90]