Quartet calls for end to Israeli settlement construction, Palestinian incitement
The Middle East Quartet on Friday released its highly anticipated report aimed at reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, calling on Israel to stop settlement building in the West Bank and Palestinians to cease incitement to violence.
The report's findings and recommendations are to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014.
The United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - which comprise the quartet -- said settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes and Israeli confiscation of land were "steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution."
"Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and denying Palestinian development," said the report.
"This raises legitimate questions about Israel's long-term intentions, which are compounded by the statements of some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state," it added.
The report said that "regrettably," Palestinian leaders "have not consistently and clearly condemned specific terrorist attacks" while streets and squares have been named after Palestinians who have carried out the violence.
"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," said the quartet.
In their first response, the Palestinians expressed disappointment.
"It does not meet our expectations as a nation living under a foreign colonial military occupation," said senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat, charging that the report "attempts to equalize responsibilities between a people under occupation and foreign military occupier."
There has been growing alarm that ongoing violence and the construction of Jewish settlements on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state are killing off prospects for a deal.
Israel welcomed the Quartet's recognition of Palestinian incitement and violence but rejected the "myth" that settlement building in the West Bank was a barrier to peace.
"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." a statement from the Prime Minister's office read.
"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," the statement added.
Since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in 1993, the settlement population has more than doubled, with a threefold increase in so-called Area C -- the most sought-after land in the West Bank, said the report.
There are currently at least 570,000 settlers living in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future state. The United Nations has said settlements are illegal.
- Ten recommendations to revive peace talks -
Among the ten recommendations outlined in the report, the quartet urged Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and called for restoring Palestinian Authority control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The Security Council is to decide whether to give its backing to the report, which was released as France is pushing for an international peace conference later this year.
The ten recommendations are as follows:
1. Both sides should work to de-escalate tensions by exercising restraint and refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use and denying Palestinian development.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. All sides must continue to respect the ceasefire in Gaza, and the illicit arms buildup and militant activities must be terminated.
8. 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.
9. 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.
(Staff with AFP)
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Lol. Waste of time. Page doesn't want peace. It never had. Abbas is d much a terrorist as Hamas and Arafat before him.
"Abbas is d much a terrorist as Hamas and Arafat before him." ..... as were Begin and Shamir?