EU blocked "unbalanced" US move in last Quartet meeting

It was the European Union — and not just Russia, as earlier reported — that blocked a U.S. move in the last Quartet meeting (a dinner in Washington on 11 July) to back, and impose on Palestinians, a statement that would have endorsed two of Israel’s main recent demands (Palestinian acknowledgement of Israel as a Jewish state, and accomodation of major Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory) according to a report by the Ramallah-based Jerusalem Media Communicatons Center (JMCC) today.

The U.S. also reportedly tried — but apparently failed — to get the Quartet to disapprove of any Palestinian move to upgrade the status of their representation at the United Nations in September.

The JMCC report, published here, contains a twice-translated citation of the wording of the U.S. proposal that was not accepted by the Quartet, which it added to other material partly based on a report in today’s Haaretz, here.

According to the Haaretz report, “senior European diplomats” told Haaretz that “responsibility for the failure of the meeting lies with the United States, which proposed to the other Quartet members – the EU, the UN and Russia – a one-sided wording for an announcement that favored Israel and which had no chance of being accepted by the Palestinians. The U.S. version did include mention of negotiations being based on the 1967 borders with an exchange of territory, however, it also included portions of the [2004] letter of President George Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon which noted that the border changes would reflect the demographic changes on the ground since 1967. This implies the annexation of the settlement blocs to Israel…”

The Haaretz article continued: ” ‘The Israelis pressured the U.S. very heavily and the American wording was too blatant and unbalanced’, senior European sources said. ‘In the way things had been written there was no chance that the Palestinians would accept this’. European Union Foreign Policy head Catherine Ashton refused to accept the U.S. version and was joined by the Russians. She put forth a more moderate version, calling for negotiations on the principle of ‘two states for two peoples’, with mention to Resolution 181 on the division of Palestine in 1947. ‘Unfortunately the Americans failed to convince the Israelis to accept this version’, senior European diplomats said”.

This news was at the bottom of the Haaretz report, written by Barak Ravid — while the main thrust of his article was to report that the Palestinians will probably go first to the UN General Assembly in (late) September to seek confirmation of its status as a state, before attempting to challenge or risk a U.S. veto on a bid in the UN Security Council for full membership in the UN, at least for the moment. This is posted here.

Meanwhile, the JMCC added material translated from the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam newspaper, which reported Sunday that it had “the actual wording of the US text” — but the JMCC noted that they translated it from Arabic to English, after Al-Ayyam translated it from the original English into Arabic, meaning that the original wording could have been somewhat different.

According to the JMCC report, “The US text stipulated the following: ‘Permanent peace means two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as homeland for the Palestinian people and each state enjoys self determination and mutual recognition and peace’. The US text also opposed the Palestinian move towards the UN; it said: ‘The two-state solution cannot be achieved through the UN or permanent occupation’ […] The text said: ‘both sides shall negotiate on the borders of Palestine and Israel which will be different from the borders that existed on June 4, 1967, in order to take into consideration the changes that occurred in the past 44 years, including the new demographic facts on the grounds and the needs of both sides’.” This is posted here.

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