South Africa on a failing Quartet

Outside the SA representative office in Ramallah with fellow South African ecumenical accompaniers Mpumi Nkosi and Zodwa Nsibande

When South Africa stated that the Quartet’s peace process comes to nothing, the Israeli response was one that will buy them more time to do what they do (expand their illegal settlements, grab more land, displace civilians and generally creating havoc) in their attempt to confiscate all Palestinian resources – but without the indigenous people.

If the Quartet makes no progress, it suits the Israeli agenda.
The world’s political leaders in turn seem to be too numbed and exasperated with the issue to come up with anything (like, for example, insisting that Israel too should adhere to international human rights laws).

What will bring the necessary change?  My hope is on the mobilisation of civilians….and there are indeed a growing awareness and actions from such groups worldwide.

Here’s an article on South Africa’s questioning of the credibility of the Middle-East Quartet:

South Africa has questioned the value and credibility of the Middle East Quartet that is tasked with mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even suggesting that it should be disbanded.

In a monthly United Nations Security Council debate on the region, South Africa pointed to the lack of progress in moving parties closer to direct negotiations by the group comprising the United States, European Union, Russia and the UN  – arguing that the prospects for peace were quickly diminishing.

There was tough talk in the Council on an issue where patience is clearly wearing thin.

Ambassador Doc Mashabane, South Africa’s number two at the UN says: “In the absence of any substantive progress, the peace process, we once again question the value and the credibility of the Quartet to which the UN has outsourced its responsibility. In our assessment, it has not proven its strategic worth. Therefore, let us urgently review this mechanism and either bolster, adjust or disband it.”

South Africa’s Charge de Affaires slammed Israel’s continued blockade of Gaza, criticised the indiscriminate firing of rockets from the territory into Israel, rejected continued Israeli settlement construction in disputed areas and again expressed support for Palestinian statehood at the UN.

“There is an urgent need to focus on the plight of the Palestinians, they expect a lot from us. They deserve better and we need not fail them. Political and economic events elsewhere in the world should not be allowed to derail the peace process, which is by far the best solution rather than ongoing confrontation and violence,” adds Mashabane.

There is an urgent need to focus on the plight of the Palestinians, they expect a lot from us

The UN’s head of political affairs Jeffrey Feltman warned that the door for a negotiated two state solution may be closing. “While the world’s gaze of concern points elsewhere in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drifts dangerously in a direction that must be avoided.

Both sides maintain their rhetorical commitment to a negotiated peace, however the creeping realities on the ground and the stalemated diplomacy portray a more worrying reality. Stated intentions to adhere to a two state solution are not translating into meaningful steps to renewed dialogue on the core issues to be resolved,” says Feltman.

Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor rejected continued Palestinian efforts for statehood. “Instead of sitting with Israel in direct negotiations, the Palestinian leadership is pursuing the path of unilateralism at the UN. This is no road to real statehood. It is a march of folly. Peace must be negotiated. It cannot be imposed from the outside. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions,” says Prosor.

Palestine’s Representative Riyad Mansour took issue with Israel’s lack of adherence to various international laws and resolutions that have for example called into question the legality of continued settlement activity. “Serious efforts must be made to overcome the paralysis in the international community, including the Security Council, especially with regard to ending Israel’s impunity and compelling its compliance with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and with the relevant UN resolutions,” says Mansour.

There was a sense of exasperation from many countries who addressed the matter in Council, at the lack of progress and the entrenched views on either side that refuse to move parties closer to direct negotiations. The UN has warned that the situation is drifting dangerously in a direction that must be avoided.

Both sides maintain their rhetorical commitment to a negotiated peace, however the creeping realities on the ground and the stalemated diplomacy portray a more worrying reality. Stated intentions to adhere to a two state solution are not translating into meaningful steps to renewed dialogue on the core issues to be resolved,” says Feltman.

Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor rejected continued Palestinian efforts for statehood. “Instead of sitting with Israel in direct negotiations, the Palestinian leadership is pursuing the path of unilateralism at the UN. This is no road to real statehood. It is a march of folly. Peace must be negotiated. It cannot be imposed from the outside. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions,”says Prosor.

Palestine’s Representative Riyad Mansour took issue with Israel’s lack of adherence to various international laws and resolutions that have for example called into question the legality of continued settlement activity. “Serious efforts must be made to overcome the paralysis in the international community, including the Security Council, especially with regard to ending Israel’s impunity and compelling its compliance with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and with the relevant UN resolutions,” says Mansour.

There was a sense of exasperation from many countries who addressed the matter in Council, at the lack of progress and the entrenched views on either side that refuse to move parties closer to direct negotiations. The UN has warned that the situation is drifting dangerously in a direction that must be avoided.

by Sherwin Bryce-Pease, SABC-news, Tuesday 16 October 2012 06:53

South African EAPPI members from Group 41 (Mpumi Nkosi, Zodwa Nsibande and Alicia Lawrence) in conversation with Machiel van Niekerk at the South African representative office in Ramallah.

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One thought on “South Africa on a failing Quartet

  1. Recognizing Israel – A majority of Palestinians want the radical Hamas movement which won an upset victory over the Fateh in PLC elections in January, 2006 to recognize Israel and negotiate peace. Hamas officials say they “recognize that Israel exists” but also state that they will never recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and will never make peace with Israel. European and American leaders pledged not to negotiate with Hamas and not to provide aid to the Palestinians until Hamas agreed to disarm and recognize Israel. Hamas spokesmen sent mixed signals, but vowed never to recognize Israel and never to give up their claim to all of Palestine, though a majority of Palestinians apparently want them to follow the path of peace.

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