Last week the Quartet (which includes the EU, the UN, the U.S. and Russia) couldn’t manage to eke out any kind of statement on the dormant Israel-Palestine peace process. But the EU has now managed to do just that, as the Jerusalem Post reports:
As both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are actively wooing Europe before the PA’s expected effort to ask for statehood recognition at the UN in September, the EU’s foreign ministers issued a statement Monday calling on the sides to act responsibly and resume “direct and substantative talks.”
In what could be interpreted as a signal to the PA that the EU was not enamored with its UN bid, the statement issued after a meeting of the EU’s 27 foreign minister in Brussels read, “The EU reiterates its concern at the continuing stalemate in the Peace Process and calls on the parties to show the highest sense of responsibility and to resume direct and substantive talks.”
So was there a flurry of activity that allowed for this “breakthrough”? Or is there something amiss within the Quartet? An experienced Middle East hand tells me that “it seems the U.S. mishandled things” at the Quartet meetings. And in fact the U.S. has traditionally been the driving force within the Quartet, so its inability to manage even a bland statement speaks volumes about Obama’s incompetence in guiding the parties back to the peace table.
Now at the time, a Palestinian source — take this with a grain of salt — told the Jerusalem Post that Russia had “played a crucial role in preventing the Quartet from adopting a stance that calls the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”We have no corroboration of this, but if it is true, it would be an extraordinary example of the degree to which “reset” has become a disastrous one-way street for U.S. interests.
The good news here is that the EU is in fact souring on the U.N. option. The Palestinians aren’t going to get statehood or U.N. membership. (The PA figured this out, dropping its bid to go to the U.N. Security Council.) So what really would be accomplished other than a serious rupture, if not the collapse of the entire Oslo structure and the discrediting of the EU as “honest brokers” in the conflict? Once the U.N.S.C. is out of the picture, the PA is going to wind up with some spruced up observer status (like Vatican City).
That everyone (Israel, U.S., EU, PA) knows the way things are heading (toward a September confrontation), and yet no one has an effective plan to divert the runaway train, tells us much about how unhelpful and inept the Obama Middle East policy has been.