Middle East Quartet’s March 19 statement in Moscow

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    20th March 2010

    From around 6 minutes “The Quartet supports their representative…”

    Transcript here from US State Department

    TRANSCRIPT

    Hat tip here for the transcript. [My highlighted sections in each paragraph below.]

    Also reported here at Tony Blair Office website


    The Quartet — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, US special envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton — met in Moscow on March 19 2010. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.

    This is the text of the statement issued after the meeting:

    Reaffirming the fundamental principles laid down in its statement in Trieste on June 26, 2009, the Quartet welcomes the readiness to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet emphasizes that the circumstances which made it possible to agree to launch the proximity talks be respected.

    The proximity talks are an important step toward the resumption, without preconditions, of direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties.

    The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

    The Quartet reiterates that Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of a peaceful state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all states in the region, and of the international community. In this regard, the Quartet calls on all states to support dialogue between the parties.

    The Quartet reiterates its call on Israel and the Palestinians to act on the basis of international law and on their previous agreements and obligations — in particular adherence to the Roadmap, irrespective of reciprocity — to promote an environment conducive to successful negotiations and re-affirms that unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognised by the international community.

    The Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.

    The Quartet also calls on both sides to observe calm and restraint and to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric especially in areas of cultural and religious sensitivity. Noting the significant progress on security achieved by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank the Quartet calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism, and to end incitement.

    The Quartet emphasizes the need to assist the Palestinian Authority in building its law enforcement capacity.

    Recalling that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognised by the international community, the Quartet underscores that the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties and condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.

    The Quartet re-affirms its intention to closely monitor developments in Jerusalem and to keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground.

    The Quartet recognises that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians and believes that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.

    Recalling that transformative change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet continues to support the Palestinian Authority’s plan of August 2009 for building the Palestinian state within 24 months as a demonstration of Palestinians’ serious commitment to an independent state that provides good governance, opportunity, justice, and security for the Palestinian people from the first day that it is established and is a responsible neighbor to all states in the region.

    The Quartet takes positive note of Israel’s steps to ease restrictions of movement in the West Bank and calls for further and sustained steps to facilitate the state building efforts of the Palestinian Authority.

    The Quartet endorses fully the efforts of the Quartet Representative in support of Prime Minister Fayyad’s state-building and economic development program which has seen significant improvement in the Palestinian Authority’s performance with respect to security and law and order and improved economic growth.

    The Quartet supports the Quartet Representative in his vital efforts to promote change on the ground in aid of the political negotiations.

    The Quartet further calls on all states in the region and in the wider international community to match the Palestinian commitment to state-building by contributing immediate, concrete, and sustained support for the Palestinian Authority and, in this regard, looks forward to the upcoming meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) to coordinate international support for the Palestinian state building effort.

    The Quartet is deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, and stresses the urgency of a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.

    The Quartet calls for a solution that addresses Israel’s legitimate security concerns, including an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza; promotes Palestinian unity based on the PLO commitments and the re-unification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority; and ensures the opening of the crossings to allow for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and persons to and from Gaza, consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1860.

    The Quartet takes positive note that the Israeli government has just communicated its approval of a number of the UN Secretary General’s civilian recovery projects, including a stalled housing project in Khan Younis and looks forward to their early implementation. The Quartet condemns yesterday’s rocket fire from Gaza and calls for an immediate end to violence and terror and for calm to be respected.

    The Quartet reiterates its call for the immediate release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

    Recognizing the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet looks forward to closer co-operation with the parties and the Arab League and urges regional governments to support publicly the resumption of bilateral negotiations, enter into a structured regional dialogue on issues of common concern, and take steps to foster positive relations throughout the region in the context of progress towards comprehensive peace on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, and 1850 and the Madrid principles, including through the conclusion of peace agreements between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.

    The Quartet commits to remain actively involved on all tracks and to encourage and review progress. The Quartet commits to meet regularly and tasks the envoys to intensify their co-operation, to maintain contacts with the Arab League Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative, and to formulate recommendations for Quartet action.

    The Quartet re-affirms its previous statements and supports, in consultation with the parties, an international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time concurrent with direct negotiations.


    From left, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (special envoy for the "quartet" on Middle East peace), Secretary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton attend a news conference after talks in Moscow today. The quartet on Middle East peace -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia -- urged the Israeli government to "freeze all settlement activity" and was "deeply concerned" about "the continuing deterioration in Gaza," Ban said.

    MY THOUGHTS

    Comprehensive heads of position. I see the hand of Tony Blair in much of it, as is to be expected. Perhaps Israel will feel it has not been dealt with quite as fairly as has the Palestinian side. But clearly the Israelis have felt the need to make a concession to the Quartet (following USA displeasure over the settlements plan?) reflected here:

    The Quartet takes positive note that the Israeli government has just communicated its approval of a number of the UN Secretary General’s civilian recovery projects, including a stalled housing project in Khan Younis and looks forward to their early implementation.


    RELATED

    EARLIER POSTS ON MIDDLE EAST/BLAIR


    BACKGROUND

    1. NETANYAHU STANDS FIRM AGAINST EVICTING JEWISH SETTLERS

    In what looks like a challenge to US President Obama and much of the international community the Israeli Prime Minister today vowed never to evict Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian land.

    It isn’t hard to see his rationale. Once Gaza had been handed over to the Palestinians by Israel it became a base for Hamas, the group still recognised by much of the international community as a “terror organisation.” There was a time when the words ‘Gaza Strip’ were synonymous with the high-life for western tourists, as are other parts of the Mediterranean today. Not any more, and not just since Israel’s bombing attacks in the closing days of  last year.

    2. BAD MEMORIES OF EARLIER ISRAELI EVICTIONS

    JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday that he will never evict Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian land as Israel did in 2005 in the Gaza Strip.

    “The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip brought us neither peace nor security. The territory has become a base for the pro-Iranian Hamas movement and we will never make the same mistake again,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

    “We will not evict any more people from their homes,” he added in comments carried by public radio.

    In September 2005, the government of prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally removed all Jewish settlements from Gaza in a move aimed at ending Israel’s costly 38-year military presence in the Gaza Strip.


    And now, clearly, providing the USA administration does NOT rub salt into Israeli wounds, the Quartet hopes the package will unlock Middle East talks

    Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton hope package will unlock Middle East talks

    Two members of the international quartet of Middle East mediators suggested today that stalled indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may be unblocked in coming days.

    Speaking after a meeting in Moscow of the group – comprising the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – quartet envoy Tony Blair told Reuters he hoped for a package of measures to get the talks started.


    According to The Guardian here George Mitchell did attend the Moscow meeting after all, despite seeming to call off his attendance earlier this week. He must have kept a VERY low profile.  He was not in any of the videos or mentioned as being party to the statement. Interesting body language in the picture below. Caption? …

    Hillary Clinton speaks with the US special envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, during quartet talks in Moscow. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

    “I’ll pretend you’re not here, George, if you pretend I am.”




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