Jerusalem, Sept. 25 – After delivering a speech at the United Nations deemed as confrontational and un-conciliatory by pundits, the Palestinian Authority went on to dismiss the Quartet on the Middle East’s peace statement.
“Speaking to the official Voice of Palestine radio, [PA Foreign Minister Riad] al-Malki criticized the Quartet's failure to call for a settlement freeze or the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian land occupied in 1967. The only new proposal offered by the Quartet was a time limit for discussing security and borders, he added,” the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
The Quartet, comprised of the United States, the U.N., Russia and the European Union, stated that it supports the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by U.S. President Barack Obama. The American administration emerged as a strong voice of support for Israel’s call for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and against the Palestinian plan for diplomatic recognition of statehood at the U.N.
“The Quartet reiterated its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and reaffirms the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative,” the Quartet’s statement read.
It called on the Palestinians to heed previous U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, 1850, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, and the agreements previously reached between the parties.
“The Quartet reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli -Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions,” the statement added.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, considered a hawkish member of Netanyahu’s coalition, said Israel should accept the Quartet’s principles and its statement on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. He was speaking Israel Radio on Sunday (Sept. 25).
In his speech, Abbas outlined a laundry-list of Israel’s wrongs and blamed the country for the plight of the Palestinian people. He referred to the ‘Nakba,’ or the catastrophe that refers to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, several times throughout his speech.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that Abbas’ mentioning of 1948 as a point of reference is important because 1948 was the year that Israel was established. Yet 1967 is the year Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict,” explained Netanyahu.
The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would likely involve Israel withdrawing from large tracts of the West Bank. The four previous Israeli leaders have voiced support for this idea.