President Biden Should Quash Abbas’ Newest Offensive
In December, both Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian leader Vladimir Putin called for the “Quartet” to be the sponsor of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But why?
The Quartet was established in Madrid in 2002 and is comprised of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia. It has been irrelevant for many years — at least since May 2015, when Tony Blair officially resigned from his role as Special Envoy, and arguably long before that.
The Biden administration should abandon the Quartet as soon as possible before Abbas’ offensive sees success.
A review of the Quartet’s website is instructive on why Abbas has been so vocal lately about his support for the Quartet’s increased involvement.
The tagline included at the top of every page of the Quartet’s website is “supporting the Palestinian people to build the institutions and economy of a viable, peaceful state in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”
It’s important to break down that sentence.
First, the tagline does not mention Israel at all. That, in and of itself, is decision that cannot be defended in any way. How can one claim to support peace between two sides and ignore the very existence of one side in your mission statement?
Second, Israel’s major cities and Ben Gurion International Airport would be within easy rocket range of terrorists sitting on the Palestinian side of the border of a “West Bank” state. Does anyone honestly believes that a new Palestinian government would stamp out the terrorists? Does anybody remember the Oslo Accords, which obligated the Palestinian Authority to outlaw and disarm all terrorists? Who enforced that, and who will enforce future Palestinian compliance?
By linking the Hamas-controlled Gaza terror statelet that now exists with a proposed entity in Judea-Samaria (which the Quartet labels the West Bank), the Quartet necessitates the creation of a way to link Gaza to the PA-run territories. Such territorial contiguity would endanger Israel’s security, which a very widely accepted fact in Israel’s defense policy establishment.
Hamas already takes advantage of every current opportunity to send terrorists from Gaza into Judea and Samaria, so just imagine what it would do if it is given a highway or railway tunnel system through which it could send whatever it wants.
If Israel tried to interfere with Palestinian Arabs using that corridor, it would become the subject of severe international condemnation. The United Nations would almost surely threaten sanctions, as would the European Union. Under such pressure, Israel would hesitate to act — thus effectively tying its hands in the face of a terrorist buildup.
Another issue with the Quartet’s mission statement is the use of a place named “East Jerusalem,” when no such place has ever existed in Middle East history. The name “East Jerusalem” is an artificial construct that supporters of the Palestinian argument use in their propaganda to make it appear as if that part of the city is an intrinsically Arab area that Jews are illegally entering.
What they are really saying with the term is that Jerusalem’s Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods are not part of Israel, or part of Israeli Jerusalem itself. The original and oldest parts of Jerusalem are what they falsely label as “East Jerusalem.”
Led by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA understands that the Quartet’s envoys and its bureaucracy are biased in their favor, even more so than the United Nations, and that is why Abbas is so focused on bringing the Quartet back into the picture. Abbas must be prevented from reactivating the Quartet as a player in Middle East affairs.
The Middle East’s political climate has changed remarkably in the last several years, in part due to the work of the Trump administration’s Middle East team. One thing that the Biden administration can do to not squander what has been accomplished is to bring a swift end to US sponsorship of the Quartet. It has shown that it is systemically incapable of being a fair arbiter where Israel is concerned — and is out of step with the Arab states normalizing relations with Israel.
Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s US division. Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education. Its website is www.herutna.org.