The Palestinian Authority said Tuesday that it was suspending its ties with the Middle East Quartet – the group consisting of officials from the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia seeking to bring about negotiations between Israel and the PA. The reason cited was dissatisfaction with a draft report issued by the EU on the reasons for the standstill in the peace process. The PA objects to a section of the report which criticizes the Authority for allowing incitement to violence, and says that such incitement is preventing the formation of an atmosphere of trust to advance the negotiation process.
The report, leaked by Reuters on Friday – a day after the murder of 13- year-old Hallel Ariel, Hy”d, in Kiryat Arba – says that the chances for a settlement between Israel and the PA are “steadily eroding.” The report castigates Israel for its building policies in Yehudah and Shomron, and calls on Israel to immediately halt building in Area C.
According to the report, at least 570,000 Israelis live over the Green Line, significantly more than the numbers generally broadcast in the Israeli media. That figure includes areas of Yerushalayim liberated in the Six Day War, which the Quartet considers “occupied” as well. Israel essentially fully controls over 70 percent of land and resources in Area C – the area under Israeli military and civil control, according to the Oslo Accords, where the large majority of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria are settled. According to the Oslo Accords, Israel is supposed to eventually hand over jurisdiction in Area C to the Palestinian Authority, but that process was halted a long time ago, the report said.
As far as the PA is concerned, the Authority needed to reign in terror attacks and prevent murders such as the one that occurred in Kiryat Arba Thursday, when 17-year-old Muhammad Tararia snuck into her home and murdered 13-year-old Ariel in her bedroom. “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 the clear condemnation of all acts of terrorism,” the draft report said.
It is this portion of the report that the PA is opposed to. Israel Radio quoted PA officials as saying that the Quartet in recent months had “turned to support of Israel, and can no longer be considered an objective third party.” The report, officials said, “has the fingerprints of the Americans all over it, as the U.S. is influencing the Quartet. The U.N. is ineffective, the European Union is divided, and the Russians, who were thought to be friends of the Palestinians, have begun cooperating with the U.S. recently and has its own interests in the region, chiefly in Syria.”
Mohammad a-Shatiya, a member of the central committee of Fatah, said that the report “deals with symptoms, and not the underlying reasons. The number one reason for the failure of negotiations is the settlements, that prevent the exercise of the two-state solution and do not leave land for the Palestinian state. If the other party is interested in resuming negotiations, let them say when and how the occupation will end.”