Quartet rhetoric normalises Israel’s unilateral decisions

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres meets with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in New York in 2019 (AFP)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  / March 25, 2021

The Trump era is over, or so the Middle East Quartet would have us believe. Now that the Zionist colonisation project is back to contending diplomatically with the two-state compromise, the main international actors are keen to publicise Washington’s return to decades of negotiations which have actually led to Israel’s de-facto annexation of occupied Palestinian land rather than the “nowhere” that we are expected to believe.

In a brief statement, the Quartet announced that it would work towards resuming “meaningful negotiations” – a catchphrase with negative implications for Palestine and its people — and urged “the parties to refrain from unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve.” The latter ought to have been delivered as a specific warning to Israel and its suspended annexation plans, because the Palestinian Authority is limited in its capability to act in any way, unilaterally or otherwise. It is, after all, beholden to the limits set by its foreign donors and agreements tying it to the settler-colonial state. Furthermore, any belated unilateral action which irks Israel is mostly taken by the PA as a last resort, and therefore unlikely to yield any benefit for the Palestinian people.

More specific is the US blending of the two-state paradigm and the Abraham Accords, both supported by President Joe Biden. While the Quartet statement may be perceived as pursuing the usual scenario of rhetoric and impunity, the US will be leading indirectly as a result of former President Donald Trump’s legacy.

If Biden is supporting the normalisation of relations with Israel, the Quartet will take that on board. In much the same way as the UN expressed its satisfaction at the agreements, the Quartet will encourage such agreements to continue to be signed, while ignoring the unilateral decision that Israel will be implementing behind the veneer of “normalisation”; its de-facto annexation of Palestinian territory.

In 2014, the US opposed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas resorting to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The State Department called the move “counterproductive” and said that it “would do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.” Under Biden, little seems to have changed in this regard, with no move to revoke the executive order signed by Trump against the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

While the EU may be more sympathetic towards the PA’s decision to approach the ICC, there is no international cohesion over the move, despite the court’s designation of Israel’s settlement expansion as war crimes. The Quartet’s condemnation of unilateral actions is much more likely to impinge upon Palestinian decision-making on occasions where the PA may edge closer to momentarily forcing the international community to take a closer look at the Israeli violations it has allowed to flourish.

If the Quartet, like the UN, fails to oppose what lies behind the normalisation agreements, the diplomats are throwing their support behind actions that lead to yet more damaging unilateral Israeli decisions. No matter that the US has said that normalisation of relations with Israel is “not a substitute for peace”; the Quartet is much more likely to embark upon such a substitution of purpose. After all, Israel’s acceptance in the international community normalised the Zionist ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from 1948 onwards, after which the UN pretended to remedy violations through ineffective, non-binding resolutions. The Abraham Accords spare visible bloodshed, but the results are just the same.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America