The Quartet’s draft report on the stalled peace process got a grim reception from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday, a day when Israel buried yet another victim of terror.
As Netanyahu noted in the beginning of a statement issued by his office: “In the 24 hours before the publication of the Quartet report, Palestinian terrorists stabbed and shot innocent Israelis three times, leaving two dead and others wounded. [On Friday] a young father was killed and his wife and children injured when their car was riddled with gunfire. Thursday, a 13 year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death while she slept in her bed. Not only did the Palestinian Authority fail to condemn this gruesome murder, it referred to the murderer as a ‘martyr’ in official media.”
The Quartet’s allegation that Israeli policy of building in Yehudah and Shomron “is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution” and brings into question “Israel’s long-term intentions” was roundly rejected by Netanyahu, which he said “perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in Yehudah and Shomron is an obstacle to peace. When Israel froze settlements, it did not get peace. When Israel uprooted every settlement in Gaza, it did not get peace. It got war,” he said.&
“It is troubling that the Quartet appears to have adopted the position that the presence of Jews living in Yehudah and Shomron somehow prevents reaching a two-state solution. The presence of nearly 1.8 million Arabs in Israel isn’t a barrier to peace; it is a testament to our pluralism and commitment to equality.&
“Israel rejects any attempt to draw moral equivalence between construction and terrorism. So too do we reject the parallels suggested between the campaign of Palestinian terrorism and the violence of marginal elements in Israeli society. The former is lauded by the Palestinian leadership. The latter is utterly condemned and rejected by Israelis across the board.”
Regarding the relative intentions for peace on the part of Israelis and Palestinians, Netanyahu noted that “in previous agreements, Israel and the Palestinians committed to discuss every difficult issue exclusively through direct, bilateral negotiations. Nevertheless, the record shows a history of repeated Palestinian rejection of offers to negotiate and compromise from Israeli governments across the political spectrum. Israel cannot negotiate peace with itself.”&
The statement concluded: “Israel will continue to strive for a genuine, negotiated peace based on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s vision of two states for two peoples. While the report includes numerous factual and policy assertions with which we take issue, Israel will discuss with the Quartet envoys ways to explore moving toward this end.”
U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov briefed the U.N. Security Council on Thursday on the Quartet report, which he told reporters had been submitted to the Quartet members for final approval.
Diplomatic sources said the report carries significant political weight, as it has the backing of the United States.
“The Palestinian authority should act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to cease incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including by clearly condemning all acts of terrorism,” the draft Quartet report said.