The Quartet: Toward Separate Negotiations?

The Quartet: Toward Separate Negotiations?

By Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom
24.10.2011
via Israel Hayom (translated from Hebrew by Geneva Initiative staff, click here for Hebrew original)
 
Geneva Initiative Chairman Yossi Beilin is hopeful about the Quartet's new strategy for separate negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians.
 
On Wednesday representative of the Quartet will convene in Jerusalem. This is not outrageous news. Until today the Quartet, born from the work of George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon, has not succeeded in promoting peace. But while Netanyahu is unwilling to freeze building in the settlements, Abbas is trying to create a Palestinian state via the United Nations, and Obama is deep in campaigning, the clumsy foursome still tries to do something. The innovation – an initiative to meet separately with Israel and with the Palestinian Authority.
 
Under the circumstances created since 2009, this is a blessed initiative. The insistence on a face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas is justified on principle, but its implementation will not promote a thing: so long as the only issue on the agenda is a direct process toward a permanent agreement, there is no chance for mediating the gaps that were newly created since Netanyahu took power (and were large when Olmert served as prime minister, as well). Since no serious source can suggest a forced agreement between the sides, and since no one is suggesting sanctions should the parties not reach an agreement within a predetermined time period, a face-to-face meeting now is just a waste of time and energy, and no more than a photo opportunity.
 
Compared to this, the decision to meet separately with each side is a blessed decision that could lead to separate negotiations. In such a situation, no side will need to renounce its preliminary claims, and it will be possible to better understand what we can practically accomplish at this stage. Since the "Road Map" was the fruit of the Quartet, one can assume that this plan will finally be seriously examined. It involved three stages: first, the Palestinian Authority appoints a prime minister, unifies its security forces and ensures law and order, while Israel evacuates illegal outposts and freezes building in the Occupied Territories, including what results from natural growth. During the second stage, both sides negotiate temporary borders for a Palestinian state. In the third stage, both sides negotiate a full peace agreement. Surely, the first part [of the "Road Map"] has not fully been implemented, but we can pass straight to the second part, and continue in our efforts to complete the previous stage.
 
After all, both sides will have adopted the "Road Map", the plan will have become a United Nations decision, and, if implemented, the Palestinian effort for virtual recognition on the international front will become superfluous. Netanyahu is capable, it seems, to ideologically accept such an effort while still maintaining his coalition, and Abbas has announced that if a vision for a permanent status agreement is suggested, and if a proper timetable for its completion is presented – he will agree to undergo a temporary process. The Quartet will present this vision and the timetable.
 
This process is demanded, necessary, not simple, but can lower both sides from the trees they have climbed, and remove the peace process from the dangerous dead end it has reached.