Europe asks: Where’s Israel’s proposal?

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Latuff (public domain): Netanyahu will be a partner for peace

Maybe you noticed that all hell is breaking loose at the United Nations. But over what? Israel had a fit over what it alleges were European countries’ intrusion into its “domestic affairs.” Stick with me for a minute as I try and lay out what is really going on: diversionary bloviation to protect Israel from its obligations to submit border and security proposals for the 2 state solution.

Here is the back story. After Palestinians put in their bid for statehood at the UN, on September 23 the Quartet issued a request for information from both Palestinians and Israelis. The Quartet’s deadline for the proposals is fast approaching: January 26th.

On November 14th Palestinian Authority President Abbas turned over proposals for Palestinian state borders and security arrangements to the Quartet  “as a demonstration of flexibility and to garner the support of the international community. Abbas also committed to suspending any unilateral steps at the UN until January 26.” 

The Quartet then requested that Netanyahu provide a counter proposal. The Israeli premier balked, citing as an excuse that such proposals should be presented in direct negotiations. Thus far Israel has refused to submit a counter-proposal.

It wasn’t always like that. Haaretz (3 weeks back) tracked the changing line:

About a week after it was issued, Israel welcomed the Quartet’s plan. Since then, envoys from the Quartet have come to the region twice for talks with the two sides.


A day after meeting with [Fatah rep Saeb] Erekat, the Quartet delegation met with Netanyahu’s representative, Isaac Molho, and told the Israeli that they wished to receive a counterproposal from Israel on both issues by the end of January. Molho replied that Israel would not cooperate with this approach, saying the Quartet should instead get the Palestinians to return to direct talks with Netanyahu rather than conducting negotiations on Israel’s behalf. Molho said talks should be direct and confidential.

Both the senior Israeli official and the European diplomat said Netanyahu’s response to the Quartet made Israel look recalcitrant, and made the Palestinians appear to be the party taking the initiative and interested in advancing the peace process.

That Haaretz article was written on December 1st. Israel initially welcomed the Quartet’s plans, then demanded adjustments. So: Abbas submits an unbelievably reasonable proposal, acquiesces to staving off Palestine’s UN membership bid,  demilitarization of the West Bank with limited weaponry, international peacekeeping force on the Israeli border and in the Jordan Valley, and all the usual ’67 lines and willingness to swap stuff. And who has reversed course, refused to submit a proposal and proceed to announce new settlement expansion and flips the narrative as if the Quartet is the one who’s changed their position?

Just look at what’s buried within the Jerusalem Post’s hubristic “Europeans are ‘irrelevant’ to the peace process” article yesterday– the Israeli rationalization of footdragging:

However, the part of the statement that most infuriated Jerusalem was its backing of the Palestinian interpretation of the Quartet’s September 23 statement, which set out a framework for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“We call the parties to present as soon as possible to the Quartet comprehensive proposals on territory and security,” the council members said.

This contradicted a statement put out by representatives of the Quartet – which is made up of the US, EU, Russia and UN – just last week, which said these comprehensive proposals should be presented by the sides to each other in direct talks.

The Palestinians said earlier this month that while they have presented the Quartet with comprehensive proposals on security and territory, Israel has refused to do so, creating the impression that Jerusalem was obstructing the process.

Israel’s position is that these comprehensive proposals need to come out of negotiations between the sides, and not as a result of the Quartet mediating between them. The US has publicly backed this position.

And the NYT echoed that view, addressing the proposals in the 9th paragraph of the Wednesday article, “Israel Accuses 4 Countries of Meddling in Its Affairs.” Same framing, thanks to Isabel Kershner:

Moreover, the Europeans called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to present comprehensive proposals on territory and security as soon as possible to the “quartet” of Middle East peacemakers — the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. Israel said that was a shift from past statements by the quartet, which it understood to call on the two sides to present their proposals to each other. The Palestinians say they have already presented their proposals to quartet representatives. Israel says that approach contradicts the very principle of trying to bring the sides back to direct talks, which broke down in September 2010.

Whoa!! What shift? What contradiction? Israel doesn’t want to submit proposals for borders and security. It wants to build settlements, complain, and frame the Europeans as irrelevant busybodies as well as directing our attention, via their hasbara affiliates, to Palestinian recalcitrance.

OK, change of scene. Back to America. Check out the latest scuffle with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland at Wednesday’s Daily Press Briefing. Watch Nuland piping the Israeli line. Notice the reporters’ impatience. Notice the stark double standard between US response to Israeli intransigence and to any other country on the face of the earth.

QUESTION: Yes, Toria. Yesterday, the four members of the European Union on the Security Council issued a statement calling occupied territories and settlements in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem as illegal under international law. Do you concur?

MS. NULAND: Said, as you know, we declined to join that statement for all of the usual reasons. It doesn’t change the fact that our longstanding policy remains that we don’t recognize the legitimacy of the continued Israeli settlements, but we don’t think statements in the UNSC [Security Council] are the way to pursue the goal of getting these parties back to the table. The best way to deal with this issue of land, settlement, et cetera, is for these parties to talk to each other, come up with borders, and then have two states living side by side in agreed borders.

QUESTION: Okay. Also, after the closed session, 14 members of the Security Council, one by one, criticized the position of the United States for not condemning the continued expansion of settlement. Do you have a response to that?

MS. NULAND: We do not believe that this is business that needs to be done in the UN Security Council. We are absolutely clear with Israel where we stand on these issues. But shouting from the rooftops of the Security Council is not going to change the situation on the ground, which is that these parties have to get back to the table and settle these issues together, and that’s the way we’re going to have a lasting, stable peace.

QUESTION: And lastly —

QUESTION: And yet shouting from the rooftops from the Security Council on Syria is going to make a difference?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve spoken about the concrete actions we want to see the Security Council take.

QUESTION: Well, you don’t have a chance of getting them through if the Chinese and the Russians still aren’t onboard. So what’s wrong with – why is it – what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander here? Why – I just don’t get it. Do the – why does screaming and yelling at the Security Council on Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, North Korea – why does that – what is that all a good thing and something – on Burma, for – and yet – and when it comes to Israel, it’s absolutely not?

MS. NULAND: Every situation is different. In this case, the answer to the problems in Israel with the Palestinian people can only be resolved when they sit down and talk to each other. They cannot be resolved in the Security Council. That’s our longstanding view. The Security Council can take action, we believe, on Syria. It can take action on other issues. So you need to use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t get it. Why can they take —

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry you don’t get it.

QUESTION: Why can they take action in Zimbabwe and Syria and they can’t take action in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

MS. NULAND: It’s not going to lead to the result that we all want, which is —

QUESTION: Well, it’s not going to lead to the result anywhere else, either.

MS. NULAND: — two states living side by side. Well, I’m sorry that you’re so cynical about the UN’s ability —

QUESTION: I have one —

MS. NULAND: — to have an impact.


QUESTION: — final question on this issue. Mr. Churkin, the Russian Ambassador, said that one delegation – meaning you – one delegation believes the thing will miraculously sort themselves out. Do you believe that things will miraculously sort themselves out on the Palestinian issue?

MS. NULAND: There are no miracles to be had here. There is hard work to be done by the parties, supported by the international community. That is why we’ve been working so hard to try to get the Quartet proposal implemented, why our negotiator David Hale’s been in constant motion on these issues, and why we continue to talk to these parties and try to get them back to the table.


(my bold)

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Great post Annie.

I think the message is clear that Israel never wanted peace w/ the Palestinians. It wants the land and believes it can slowly gobble up all of what’s left of Historic Palestine while playing the clock on the dead 2SS.

It takes a special breed of human to do what MS. NULAND does here.

Can the UN call a stop to this? Can’t they say ‘sorry US, your veto is not impartial and you’re not an honest broker to the I/P conflict. You’re gonna have to sit this out.’ Surely there is some accountability for the US’ abuse of it’s permanent member status and… Read more »

Israel answered the UN.
They let a contract for 1,000 more Jewish housing units on Palestine land.
That’s been their answer for 60 years.

so, it’s okay for Bibi Netanyahu to come and give a speech before the US Congress, siding with our opposition in open defiance and even derision for a democratically-elected, sitting US president–that’s not meddling in US internal affairs–but it’s not okay for the UNSC or the Quartet to ask that… Read more »