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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Quartet’

Tony Blair Steps Down as Quartet Middle East Envoy but No One Cares

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Tony Blair has stepped down as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, and there is a possibility that no one will be named to replace him since there really is not much to do except  travel and rack up hotel bills.

The London Daily Record headlined his announcement with:

Tony Blair’s greatest achievement after six years as special envoy to the Middle East? Both sides detest him

Our own headline above actually is a bit misleading, because there really are plenty of people who care that he has quit, mainly the British taxpayers.

Blair is a multi-millionaire many times over. He does not receive a salary as envoy but his perks are enough to keep anyone in the pink forever.

He has flown more than 100 times since he took up the post as Quartet envoy in 2007 and has stayed with his 12-person entourage at a Jerusalem five-star hotel for approximately $1.5 million a year, the Record reported.

He and his staff have a penthouse office in eastern Jerusalem on a road known as Millionaires’ Row.

The Quartet consisting of Britain, the United States, the United Nations and Russia, has been paying $3 million a year for the privilege of letting Blair pretend he is busy.

He has been under constant criticism for doing little except occupying his office one week a month, and his knowledge of the Middle East does not go much beyond the fact that his wife’s half-sister Sarah Jane Booth converted to Islam after a “spiritual” experience in Iran.

U.S. State Dept, Jeff Rathke had a difficult time on Wednesday explaining to nosy reporters exactly what he has done for the Quartet, one of the brainstorms of the American government.

Rathke said:

 Tony Blair has been a valued partner and friend in our effort to bring peace to the Middle East, and as Quartet representative, he’s worked tirelessly and passionately to advance economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza over the past eight years.

What role is there for the Quartet in any kind of future negotiations?” asked one journalist, to which Rathke responded with a long answer that in one word said, “Nothing.”

In his words:

The Quartet plays an important role in keeping the partners – the EU, Russia, UN, the United States – engaged, up to date, and supporting the goal of the two-state solution…. But certainly we think the Quartet is an important format to support, work toward an Israeli – solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee persisted and asked, “But when you say that it plays an important role, surely you have some kind of reason to say that. Right?”

Wrong.

Rathke turned on the tape recorder and stated:

As I said, the members of the Quartet all have important roles to play. The Quartet brings them together, allows them to share views.

But can Rathke “name a single accomplishment that the Quartet [since 2002] has – I mean, they presented – they came up with George Mitchell and the roadmap, but it was never implemented. I mean, what exactly has the Quartet done to further the cause of a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians?”

Here is his non-answer:

Until the goal of a two-state solution has been achieved, then you can’t say that there’s been success…. We think it’s important that the Quartet exists and that the Quartet brings together key parties to support the negotiation process and the outcome we all desire.

Wait a minute, If it is “important that the Quarter exists” then who will replace Blair?

Rathke said:

I’m not aware of current plans to replace Tony Blair as Quartet representative.

But didn’t he say it is an important position?

Report: Tony Blair to Resign as Quartet Mideast Envoy

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is reportedly set to announce plans to resign as Quartet envoy to the Middle East.

It was under Blair’s leadership that the Quartet demanded that Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization fulfill three conditions in order to receive any funding from Europe: recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and terrorism, and agree to uphold agreements signed by prior Palestinian Authority governments.

Nevertheless, according to a report Sunday by the Financial Times, Blair’s role as representative to the region — recommended by then-U.S. President George W. Bush — as envoy for the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, was always controversial.

There was no specific term limit, nor was there a clear review requirement, and caused some “consternation in Europe and the UN.”

Eight years later, various parties are still complaining although Blair’s role was limited due to restrictions on his authority. It was never clear how much control the envoy actually had in affecting events in the region he served.

“People close to Mr. Blair argue that he cannot be blamed for the failure of the peace process,” wrote the Financial Times. “They say he has invested political capital and time on an unpaid mission because he is passionate about promoting peace.”

Palestinian Authority officials in the entity’s capital in the Samaria city of Ramallah don’t agree: officials there told FT they “hope so” when asked how they’d feel about Blair resigning. Blair’s office has had no comment.

PM Netanyahu Debunks Peace Deal Claim: ‘Peres Had No Deal With PA’

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The Prime Minister’s Office came out swinging in an overnight Independence Day statement Yom HaAtzma’ut, bluntly denying that President Shimon Peres ever reached a final status deal with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The statement, reported overnight by Voice of Israel government radio, denied a claim by the president reported earlier in the day that he had reached an agreement with the Ramallah-based PA chairman three years ago.

“The only one Abbas has reached an agreement with is with [the Gaza-based terrorist organization] Hamas,” commented the PMO.

President Peres had told Israel’s Channel 2 TV in an interview over the holiday that three years ago he reached a deal in principle after four meetings abroad with Mahmoud Abbas. However, he said it was scotched by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who nixed the agreement just prior to what was to be a fifth and final meeting in Amman.

The president said Mr. Netanyahu told him to wait because Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair, a former UK prime minister also involved in talks with the PA, might bring to the table a better offer. “But the days passed and that deal never materialized,” Mr. Peres lamented.

Israel’s president – whose position is primarily ceremonial and traditionally not intended to be functionary – said his own discussions had been about land swaps and total land mass rather than boundary lines. Maps had not yet been drawn, the president said, reported the Independent Media Review and Analysis, IMRA.

Cancelling the fifth meeting, he allegedly told the PA Chairman in August 2011, “I’m sorry, but the government doesn’t accept what we have negotiated and there’s nothing more I can do.”

The “secret” talks were never secret, however, and there is some question over how far the president’s diplomatic authorization supposedly reached.

President Peres, who was the architect of the failed Oslo Accords, is expected to retire next month as he reaches the age of 90 after a political career of seven decades.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is meeting today with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee as lawmakers review the current security situation.

On the agenda are all recent events, including those of the ‘price tag’ incidents, ‘David the Nahlawi’ and the attacks in Judea and Samaria that followed the cessation of final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Shimon Peres Honors Henry Kissinger with Award,Quartet Head Tony Blair Reflects on ‘Arab Spring’

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

In an emotional ceremony on Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres awarded fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with Israel’s first Presidential Award of Distinction, for Kissinger’s lifetime of contribution to the Jewish State. The ceremony took place as part of the evening session which closed the opening day of Facing Tomorrow 2012. Joining Peres and Kissinger in offering his perspective on The Compass that Navigates the Future, as the session was entitled, was former British prime minister, and current Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Also in attendance were the President of Albania, the President of Croatia, and the President of the Ivory Coast, as well as Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and many other dignitaries.

In conferring the award, Peres said, “This award while being delivered from my hands, comes from the hearts of my (the Israeli) people. I feel that I am handing it not to a friend, but to a brother.”

Kissinger, who first met Peres in 1962, then joined Peres on-stage and the two long-time statesmen embraced before Kissinger spoke.

“Shimon and friends,” began Kissinger, “it is unusual for an 89-year old man to say that I wish my parents (with whom Kissinger fled from the Nazi-dominated Germany in 1938) could be here. They would be more proud of this distinction than any of the other honors that have come my way.”

Blair addressed the massive upheaval in the Middle East over the past 12 months, saying, “We [the international community, led by the Quartet] have no option but to stay engaged in this part of the world. Democracy is not just a way of voting. It’s a way of thinking. It’s about freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of religion.”

He also said about Iran, “We must have the will to prevent it [Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons] and when we say it, we must mean it.”

 

Obama, Clinton, Abbas, Comparing Notes on Eve of Quartet Meet

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina has told AFP that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton phoned President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of the international Quartet scheduled for next month.

Clinton’s call to Abbas was to follow up on discussions between Abbas and Obama a day earlier, the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Clinton said a group of US officials are slated to arrive at the region soon. Abbas told Obama on Monday that he would return to negotiations if Israel committed to the demands of the Quartet (e.g. settlement freeze).

Obama’s call to Abbas was their first conversation since their meeting in New York when the US vetoed Abbas’ bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN. This time around, Obama wished to reassure the PA President that the US was committed to Middle East peace, a PLO official told Wafa.

Saeb Erekat told the PA’s official radio station that Abbas told Obama the Palestinians would return to talks if Israel submitted its proposal on borders and security,

After talks ended in January without agreement, Abbas is preparing to send a letter to Israel and the international community outlining the basis for a Palestinian state and reiterating demands that Israel stop settlement building.

Erekat said Abbas briefed Obama on the letter, which will outline his position that Israel is responsible for the failure of the peace process.

Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday that Obama urged Abbas not to include a threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority in his communiqué.

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Abbas also discussed the deal reached with Hamas in Doha last month to establish an interim government to oversee new elections. The agreement has since stalled amid criticism from Hamas’ Gaza-based leadership.

US: Hamas-Fatah Agreement an ‘Internal Matter’

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The Obama administration declined to weigh in on the reconciliation agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah, saying instead that it was an “internal matter”.

“As we’ve said many times, questions of Palestinian reconciliation are an internal matter for Palestinians,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Nuland did reiterate the US position that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and that any Palestinian government must abide by the international agreements and norms that the Quartet had laid out. “Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence. It must recognize the state of Israel and it must accept the previous agreements and obligations between the parties, including the road map.”

Abbas: No Progress in Amman

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

PA president Mahmoud Abbas announced that the ongoing exploratory peace talks with Israel have ended without any progress,  but allowed the possibility of continuing the low-level discussions.

Israel has professed its desire to continue the talks, while analysts agree that Abbas is under growing pressure to continue the dialogue.

The Quartet declared in October 2011 that it expected the parties to submit detailed proposals on borders and security arrangements by January 26, 2012.

The low-level talks of the past three weeks have been an attempt to agree on a framework for direct negotiations.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/abbas-no-progress-in-amman/2012/01/25/

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