The world is rapidly changing, nowhere more so than in the Middle East. Russia has amassed a military presence, Iran is on the brink of nuclear weaponhood, Saudi Arabia and Iran are in the early throes of a death match for regional hegemony and hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered by other Arabs, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of homeless Arab refugees fleeing their brethren for safety to an unprepared and terribly frightened Europe.
But you would never know the entire Middle East is in flames, and all the action is happening to their east, to hear the statement from the Middle East Quartet issued from their meeting on the sidelines (from which they should never come out) of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini once again intoned their time-worn and ludicrous, mantra – that the solution to the Middle East crisis will be the creation of a State of Palestine, otherwise known as the “Two State Solution.”
How absurd. And how pathetic. But what’s even more absurd than the Quartet still desperately clinging to a so-called solution to the Middle East conflict which involves only the tiniest and least violent conflict in the region, is that the merry foursome continues to speak as if the two sides are nearly equally culpable, even as they bear down harder on Israeli actions than they do on the official sanction and glorification by the Palestinian Arab leadership of Arab terrorism.
The Quartet’s statement reads as if it were simply lifted from a decades-old template:
The Quartet noted with deep concern recent violence and escalating tensions surrounding the holy sites in Jerusalem and called upon all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the status quo at the holy sites in both word and practice.
The Quartet expressed its serious concern that current trends on the ground – including continued acts of violence against Palestinians and Israelis, ongoing settlement activity and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures — are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-State solution. The Quartet condemned in the strongest possible terms violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians and reiterated that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of a negotiated solution.
Blah, blah, blah.
Really? This is what passes for the highest level of international diplomacy?
But wait. It gets worse.
The Quartet underscored that the status quo is not sustainable and stressed the importance of both sides’ demonstrating, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to a two-State solution in order to rebuild trust and avoid a cycle of escalation. The Quartet expressed strong support for concrete and significant steps that will help stabilize the situation, reverse current trends by showing meaningful progress towards creating a two-State reality on the ground and restore hope among Palestinians and Israelis that a negotiated peace is possible.
Guess what, fellas? It isn’t possible. At least not any time soon. And unless these internationally acclaimed diplomatic dinosaurs figure out that the status quo is the very best they can hope for into the foreseeable future, they’ll be making the same speech every year for the next 60 years.
Meanwhile, the acting leader (now in his tenth year of his four year term) of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, took his cues from the diplo-dinosaurs and trotted out his favorite mantra: “we deserve a state because we keep demanding one, and we refuse to concede a single demand because no one ever seriously pushes us to do so.”
Abbas submitted a request to the Security Council seeking recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent country, with Jerusalem as its capital. And no one laughed. But few people were in the room, which might suggest that even if the Quartet and UNWRA act as if the plight of the Palestinian Arabs remains the most serious problem in the world which requires the infusion of tens of millions of dollars every year, few others do. Or at least few others are willing to waste their time listening.
In a tour de force of comical timing, the Quartet “expressed support for the Palestinians to achieve genuine national unity on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) principles.” These principles were announced as a part of the Oslo Accords in September, 1993.
And during Abbas’s speech on the same day at the GA, the Arab Palestinian acting leader announced from the U.N. podium that his people are no longer bound by the Oslo Accords. Abbas renounced all political and security agreements with Israel.
In addition to the fabled Two State Solution, the Quartet also struck a minor chord of fancy when it called for the Palestinian Arabs in both the so-called West Bank and Gaza to be integrated under a single authority. Hamas and Fatah (and the other smaller gangs of terrorists) are as far from being able to work together to improve the lives of Palestinian Arabs in the region as are the Israelis and either faction of Palestinian Arabs able to negotiate an agreement that could end their disagreements.
That ain’t happening.
And you know what else has not happened? The billions of dollars in aid pledged by Arab countries for rebuilding Gaza after its last military confrontation with Israel has not been provided. Even the Arabs in the rest of the Arab world recognize that the Palestinian Arabs are the least of the region’s problem. But the Quartet keeps churning out tired, cliche-laden statements.
Time for a new band.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus