The Quartet – America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – has effectively consigned any negotiated two-state solution to political oblivion with its latest Report.
Two statements in the Report stymie any resumption of negotiations – stalled since April 2014.
1. “The Quartet reiterates that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community."
Unilateral actions by the Palestinian Authority – disbanded in January 2013 – have already seen the international community:
(i) Admit “Palestine” as a member State of UNESCO on 29 October 2011 in contravention of UNESCO’s own constitution
(ii) Accord “Palestine” non-member observer State status in the United Nations on 29 November 2012.
Such acts of recognition by the international community – over Israel’s strident objections – have hardened Palestinian demands and expectations that their goals can be achieved without negotiations requiring any concessions to Israel.
Reversing these decisions is a Quartet pipe dream.
2. “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."
Reunification under the “PLO platform” sounds the death knell for the Quartet’s mediating role and the two-state solution.
Hamas will certainly not become a willing player in its own extinction.
The Quartet obviously has not considered how such reunification could be achieved whilst Hamas’s own Covenant declares:
'Secularism completely contradicts religious ideology. Attitudes, conduct and decisions stem from ideologies. That is why, with all our appreciation for the Palestinian Liberation Organization – and what it can develop into – and without belittling its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea. The Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion and whoever takes his religion lightly is a loser.
"Who will be adverse to the religion of Abraham, but he whose mind is infatuated?" (The Cow - verse 130).
The day the Palestinian Liberation Organization adopts Islam as its way of life, we will become its soldiers, and fuel for its fire that will burn the enemies.
Until such a day, and we pray to Allah that it will be soon, the Islamic Resistance Movement's stand towards the PLO is that of the son towards his father, the brother towards his brother, and the relative to relative, suffers his pain and supports him in confronting the enemies, wishing him to be wise and well-guided.'
Replacing “secular-democratic Palestine” with “Islamic-autocratic Palestine” is certainly not the Quartet’s prescription for achieving any realistic two-state solution – but this is what Hamas demands and will never abandon.
The Quartet is living in fantasy land if it believes otherwise.
“Democratic Palestinian authority” involves free and fair elections that Hamas and the PLO have both been unwilling to entertain since 2006. Given the rivalries between the PLO and Hamas such elections remain a figment of the Quartet’s imagination.
The time has surely arrived for trilateral negotiations to be commenced between Israel, Jordan and Egypt to allocate sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza between their respective sovereign States.
Time for the out-of-tune Quartet to bow out and give this Trio the world stage.