Quartet on the Middle East
The Quartet on the Middle East or Middle East Quartet, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or simply the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The Quartet comprises the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The group was established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. The Quartet's current Special Envoy is Kito de Boer, who assumed the position after the resignation of Tony Blair in 2015.
The initiative to establish the Quartet evolved following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 and the futile cease-fire attempts that followed. On October 25, 2001, representatives of the EU, UN and the US and Russian governments met Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and jointly expressed support for his policy of implementing cease-fire and security reforms in the Palestinian Authority. During the Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas in April 2002, the representatives of the same four entities met in Madrid and again called for implementation of cease-fire agreements brokered by the US government before. In the same meeting, they also agreed to transform their quadripartite cooperation into a permanent forum for follow-up of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
James Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank, was appointed Special Envoy for Israel's disengagement from Gaza in April 2005. He stepped down the following year because of restrictions in dealing with the Islamic militant group Hamas and the withholding of money from the Palestinian Authority, risking its collapse.
Tony Blair announced that he had accepted the position of the official envoy of the Quartet, the same day he resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as a Member of Parliament on 27 June 2007. The approval came after initial objections by Russia. The United Nations were overseeing the finances and security of his mission, before his resignation on 27 May 2015.
Peace efforts and actions
Tony Blair periodically travelled to the Middle East following his appointment as Special Envoy. On a trip there in March 2008, he met with Israeli leaders to discuss recent violence. A planned meeting between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen was postponed due to recent fighting. In May 2008 Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan.
In an August 2009 interview, Blair said that he would like to see Hamas and Hezbollah included in peace talks but under the right conditions, that religious leaders should be more involved in the peace process, and that resolving the conflict could be easier than it was in Northern Ireland.
In a speech given in Israel on August 24, 2010, Blair sharply criticised the campaign of "delegitimization" being carried out by enemies of Israel and proponents of the Palestinians, which refuses to grant Israel its legitimate right to its own point of view and self-defense. "Don't apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country," he said. He characterized such double standards and prejudice as being an "affront to humanity" which "it is a democratic duty to counter."
Criticism and shortcomings
Despite the significance officially attached to the Quartet's part in promoting the peace process, many of its statements are merely repetition of previous statements and no significant changes in policy by either the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority have occurred resulting from a Quartet meeting.
The Quartet has been fiercely criticized for its ineffectiveness. When Tony Blair held the function of Quartet representative, in December 2012, Palestinian officials said that "Tony Blair shouldn't take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They said his job, and the body he represents, are ′useless, useless, useless′".
The Center for Middle East Policy said in February 2012 that "The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process. ... Having spent most of the last three years in a state of near paralysis, and having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has finally reached the limits of its utility. ... The current mechanism is too outdated, dysfunctional, and discredited to be reformed. Instead of undertaking another vain attempt to 'reactivate' the Quartet, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, and Russia should simply allow the existing mechanism to go quietly into the night,".
The Quartet's meetings have been held on the following dates:
- May 2, 2002
- July 16, 2002a
- September 17, 2002
- December 20, 2002
- February 19, 2003
- June 22, 2003
- September 26, 2003
- December 11, 2003
- May 4, 2004
- July 7–8, 2004
- September 22, 2004
- March 1, 2005
- April 14, 2005
- May 9, 2005
- June 23, 2005
- September 20, 2005
- October 28, 2005
- December 5, 2005
- January 26, 2006
- March 30, 2006
- May 9, 2006
- June 17, 2006
- September 20, 2006
- November 15, 2006
- December 22, 2006
- February 2, 2007
- February 21, 2007
- March 21, 2007
- May 30, 2007
- June 27, 2007
- July 20, 2007
- September 23, 2007
- November 26, 2007
- December 18, 2007
- May 2, 2008
- June 24, 2008
- September 26, 2008
- November 9, 2008
- June 26, 2009
- September 24, 2009
- March 19, 2010
- May 11, 2010
- June 21, 2010
- August 20, 2010
- May 20, 2011
- July 11, 2011b
- August 16, 2011c
- September 23, 2011d
- October 9, 2011e
- October 26, 2011f
- December 14, 2011
- January 3, 2012
- March 12, 2012
- April 11, 2012
- July 30, 2013
- September 27, 2013
- January 26, 2015
- February 8, 2015
- May 27, 2015
- a Proclaimed the Road Map for the two-state solution.
- b Convened in order to find a formula for restarting bilateral negotiations; ended without any results.
- c Condemned settlement expansion in Ariel and East Jerusalem.
- d Issued a new schedule for resumption of negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which called for completing negotiations by end of 2012.
- e Called upon the parties to resume negotiations.
- f Meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem.
- "Welcome to the website of the Office of the Quartet". Archived April 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
- Josh May (May 27, 2015). "Tony Blair resigns as Middle East peace envoy". Politics Home. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
- Joint statement, October 25, 2001 Archived October 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Letter dated 10 April 2002 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council Archived October 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "Secretary-General Welcoms James Wolfensohn's Appointment by Quartet" (Press release). United Nations. April 14, 2005.
- Stephen Farrell (May 3, 2006). "West 'has to prevent collapse' of Palestinian Authority". The Times. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- "Blair appointed Middle East envoy". BBC News. June 27, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- "Quartet at loggerheads over scope of authority for Mideast envoy". Haaretz. June 27, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 5736. S/PV/5736 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- Herb Keinon, Hilary Leila Krieger, and Tovah Lazaroff, "Livni: Israel not expanding settlements", Jerusalem Post, 3/13/08.
- Israel may ease grip in Tony Blair deal to revive West Bank Archived September 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, The Times May 14, 2008
- "Terrasanta.net" (in Italian). Theholylandreview.net. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- Tony Blair, "It is a democratic duty to counter delegitimisation of Israel," full text at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) and summarized by Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post of Aug. 25, 2010, "Delegitimization of Israel is affront to humanity," at http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=185860.[permanent dead link]
- Nathalie Tocci, The EU, the Middle East Quartet and (In)effective Multilateralism[permanent dead link]
- ′Useless, useless, useless′: the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair's job Archived November 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Matthew Kalman, The Independent, 16 December 2012
- Statement of Aug. 16, 2011 Archived October 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Statement of September 23, 2011
- Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, following the Middle East Quartet Envoys' Meeting in Brussels Archived October 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Office of the Quartet Representative
- US Mission to the UN archive of press releases pertaining to the Middle East
- UN News Focus: Middle East archive of Middle East Quartet statements
- Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in London, 1 March 2005
- Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in Moscow, 19 March 2010
- Middle East Quartet Statements U.S. State Department
- President Welcomes Quartet Principals to White House, press release from meeting of the Quartet Principals on 20 December 2002
- "Tony Blair's UN Role May Conflict with New Job with JP Morgan Chase" by Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, January 10, 2008