You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The July 1 Middle East Quartet Report on the peace process and reaction to it by Israel, the Palestinians and the European Union
On July 1, the Middle East peace Quartet (UN, EU, US and Russia) released a report on the current status of the peace process. A summary of the report is as follows:
The Quartet reiterates that a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to achieve an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, and resolves all permanent status issues.
The Quartet recalls its previous statements and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and pledges its active support for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). In this regard, the Quartet reiterates its commitment to continue working in coordination with key stakeholders, including regional countries and the UN Security Council, to restore hope in a political solution.
While the majority of people on both sides and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas express their support for the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, the Quartet remains seriously concerned that continuing on the current course will make this prospect increasingly remote. In particular, each of the following trends is severely undermining hopes for peace:
- Continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, and incitement to violence are greatly exacerbating mistrust and are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution;
- The continuing policy of settlement construction and expansion, designation of land for exclusive Israeli use, and denial of Palestinian development is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution; and
- The illicit arms build-up and militant activity, continuing absence of Palestinian unity, and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza feed instability and ultimately impede efforts to achieve a negotiated solution.
The Quartet stresses the urgent need for affirmative steps to reverse each of these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.
The Quartet reiterates that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.
The Quartet stresses that while a permanent status agreement that ends the conflict can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations, important progress can be made now towards advancing the two-state solution on the ground.
The Quartet calls on each side to independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution.
To that end, the Quartet emphasizes the importance of both parties complying with their basic commitments under existing agreements in order to promote this two-state reality and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations.
The Quartet calls on each side to independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution and refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations. The Quartet emphasizes the importance of both parties complying with their basic commitments in order to advance a peaceful two state reality on the ground and create the conditions for successful final status negotiations. The Quartet has the following specific recommendations:
- Both sides should work to de-escalate tensions by exercising restraint and refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric.
- Both sides should take all necessary steps to prevent violence and protect the lives and property of all civilians, including through continuing security coordination and strengthening the capacity, capability and authority of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces.
- 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.
- Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and denying Palestinian development.
- Israel should implement positive and significant policy shifts, including transferring powers and responsibilities in Area C, consistent with the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by prior agreements. Progress in the areas of housing, water, energy, communications, agriculture, and natural resources, along with significantly easing Palestinian movement restrictions, can be made while respecting Israel’s legitimate security needs.
- The Palestinian leadership should continue their efforts to strengthen institutions, improve governance, and develop a sustainable economy. Israel should take all necessary steps to enable this process, in line with the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee recommendations.
- All sides must continue to respect the ceasefire in Gaza, and the illicit arms buildup and militant activities must be terminated.
- Israel should accelerate the lifting of movement and access restrictions to and from Gaza, with due consideration of its need to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks.
- Gaza and the West Bank should be reunified under a single, legitimate and democratic Palestinian authority on the basis of the PLO platform and Quartet principles and the rule of law, including control over all armed personnel and weapons in accordance with existing agreements.
10. Both parties should foster a climate of tolerance, including through increasing interaction and cooperation in a variety of fields – economic, professional, educational, cultural – that strengthen the foundations for peace and countering extremism.
The Quartet stresses the urgent need for such affirmative steps to reverse current trends and advance the two-state solution on the ground.
The Quartet stresses the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative (API), with its vision for comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and, in that context, the opportunity for building a regional security framework, and encourages further dialogue on that basis. In this regard, the Quartet welcomes the call by the Egyptian President to Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab leaders to follow the historic path towards peace taken by Israel and Egypt 37 years ago.
The Quartet also welcomes the Joint Communique issued in Paris on June 3 and its support for a negotiated two-state solution.
The Quartet encourages the international community to accelerate its efforts to address the dire humanitarian, reconstruction, and recovery needs of the people in Gaza, including expediting the disbursement of assistance pledges.
The Quartet invites the parties to engage with it on implementing the recommendations of this report and creating the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations that resolve all final status issues.
The Prime Minister’s office of Israel responded to the Quartet report by saying:
Israel welcomes the Quartet’s recognition of the centrality of Palestinian incitement and violence to the perpetuation of the conflict. This culture of hatred poisons minds and destroys lives and stands as the single greatest obstacle to progress towards peace. The report unfortunately says nothing about the payments made by the Palestinian leadership to terrorists and their families. The graver the violence, the greater the payment. This Palestinian practice must stop.
Israel shares the Quartet’s historical commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions. In previous agreements, Israel and the Palestinians committed to discuss every difficult issue exclusively through direct, bilateral negotiations. Nevertheless, the record shows a history of repeated Palestinian rejection of offers to negotiate and compromise from Israeli governments across the political spectrum. Israel cannot negotiate peace with itself.
We regret the failure of the Quartet to address the real core of the conflict: the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in any boundaries. The report also perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace. When Israel froze settlements, it did not get peace. When Israel uprooted every settlement in Gaza, it did not get peace. It got war.
Israel will continue to strive for a genuine, negotiated peace based on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s vision of two states for two peoples. While the report includes numerous factual and policy assertions with which we take issue, Israel will discuss with the Quartet envoys ways to explore moving toward this end.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians had hoped that similarly to the June 3 Paris summit declaration, the Quartet report would include terms of reference for the permanent status negotiations. They expected the report to specifically highlight the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as the main basis for negotiations leading to a state along the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians had even asked the EU and the United States for a binding timeline for negotiations followed by a UN Security Council resolution.
A senior Palestine Liberation Organization official close to President Mahmoud Abbas said that Abbas is severely critical of US Secretary of State John Kerry for pressuring the EU to not to make the Quartet report a policy platform for future negotiations. The senior official assessed that the United States will publish guidelines for future negotiations as a platform for the next administration possibly via a presidential policy speech. He also expressed concern that the US policy statement will allude to the need to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. According to this source, the Palestinians are committed to working with Egypt and France on a binding UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood referring in detail to settlement expansion, the 1967 lines, East Jerusalem and a two-year timeline. As the official put it, “For us the Quartet report is a non-paper; our sole basis is the Arab Peace Initiative.” US diplomatic sources in Israel affirmed that Kerry convinced the EU to refrain from setting a new basis for future negotiations.
From the viewpoint of the European Union, though the Palestinians and Israel have both made their positions clear to the US, the EU has not lost hope, nor has it retracted its commitment to continuing the path toward a policy platform for a two-state solution and an international conference before the end of 2016.
A senior official close to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that in the aftermath of endorsing the French initiative and the publication of the Quartet report, EU officials are preparing a tentative road map for progress in the diplomatic process. The EU’s premise, he explained, is that Europe will have to act independently this year because of the US presidential elections. This road map will include several stages, beginning with talking to the parties about curbing Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian incitement to violence, together with economic confidence-building measures in Area C for the Palestinian agricultural sector. Thereafter, the European Union, in coordination with the French, will start preparing for a possible international peace conference with the parties before the end of 2016.
European capitals are busy with the organization of an international conference on the two-state solution which would elaborate on the French Middle East Peace Initiative. Israel and the Palestinians were not invited to the preparative conference in Paris June 3. European leaders, including more Israel-leaning countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, agree that the next phase would include both. According to a senior European Union official, all EU foreign ministers decided to support the French initiative in order to challenge the parties and bolster the position of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
EU officials believe that not much can come out of a future international conference without the United States playing an active role. Therefore, if the United States remains passive, the conference can be only of preliminary nature, to set a policy platform for future negotiations. And so if the conference eventually takes place before a new US president is sworn in (with a lame-duck administration in Washington) — with the United States effectively playing a passive role — the European Union will probably take the lead to avoid a diplomatic vacuum.
The EU official said: “Europe has decided to play a more independent role regarding the two-state solution process, especially given the election in the United States and the uncertainty about who will be the next president. Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution is a key strategic interest of most European countries. Hence we would like to formulate the terms of reference and the structure for future negotiations.”
According to this source, EU headquarters’ officials — under the guidance of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini — are coordinating content and moderation of such a conference mainly vis-a-vis French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is fully in the know.
The conference is planned to take place in Paris toward the end of the year possibly after the US presidential election Nov. 8. The Quartet (United States, EU, United Nations and Russia) would be the one inviting the parties to the international peace conference, which would be based on the Quartet report published July 1. All participants of the Paris conference of June 3 will be invited, including the Arab League, in addition to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The terms of reference of the conference will be the Quartet report. The parties will not be asked to adopt the report but to negotiate on its basis.
The structure of the conference is already taking shape: Quartet representatives at the level of foreign ministers and the UN secretary-general will chair it; the opening plenary session will include speeches by all parties. It will also delineate a structure of negotiations, according to the following guidelines: a plenary session for reporting about and monitoring the negotiations; a bilateral committee of Israel and the PA only, to negotiate on the basis of the Quartet report all permanent status issues; and a multilateral track with Israel, the PA, the Arab League, Egypt, Jordan and Quartet representatives.
Concerning the bilateral Israel-Palestinian committee, it will work on core issues, starting with borders between the two states and security measures, including anti-terror cooperation. The two parties will establish subcommittees of negotiations on the following issues: settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, water and other infrastructure issues, future bilateral relations between the two states and mutual recognition.
With these issues to be discussed bilaterally, the multilateral track will negotiate the normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative; the construction of economic regional cooperation in the fields of tourism, trade, the environment and water (resembling the multilateral negotiations started by the Madrid conference of 1992; and the launch of regional security cooperation, mainly in the fields of anti-terror and curbing the dissemination of non-conventional arms.
In any event, the EU seems determined to go ahead with such plans despite US hesitance and Israeli opposition.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Report of the Middle East Quartet
2) EU to push Israel-Palestine peace process as Quartet report flops
3) Prime Minister’s Office response to the Quartet report
4) EU to push forward with two-state conference, with or without Washington
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l