Palestinians disapointed in Quartet communique 9/19/2002
By Hatem Lutfi
Senior Palestinian officials were not thrilled with the Quartet Committee’s decision released in a statement last Tuesday to adopt an EU roadmap that envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, over three stages, by 2005.
The quartet which is made of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations agreed to the outline after three meetings at UN Headquarters in New York. Separate consultations with Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as several Arab foreign ministers also took place.
Nabil Shaath, Minister of International cooperation, said from New York that the statement had security conditions attached to the plan which made ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state almost impossible. “However we do not reject the statement and we will work on implementing it with the help of the EU and the international community, who believe in our just cause,” he added.
Minister of Local government, Saeb Erekat, said he was disappointed because the statement ignored the timing of the Palestinian elections assigned by President Yasser Arafat for next January. Erekat added the statement failed to outline anything more than the general timing of interim steps and the outline is just a general statement.
“It doesn’t resolve anything,” Erekat said, noting the Quartet’s failure to reach anything beyond the general timing of interim steps. “We were hoping the Quartet would call for an end to Israeli sieges and closures and terrorism against our people in order to move on with the negotiations.”
“We are working closely with the parties and consulting key regional actors on a concrete, three-phase implementation roadmap that could achieve a final settlement within three years,” top diplomats from the Quartet said in a statement.
In the initial phase, from now until the first half of 2003, the plan proposes comprehensive Palestinian security reform; Israeli withdrawals to their positions of September 2000 as security improves; and Palestinian elections in early 2003. The first phase would also include various humanitarian, developmental and rebuilding initiatives in Gaza and the West Bank.
In the second phase, the Quartet would look into options for creating a Palestinian state with provisional borders, “as a way station to a permanent status settlement”, the statement said. In its final phase, from 2004 to 2005, the plan proposes Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status solution in 2005.
The quartet’s communiqué warned that for the plan to succeed, a strict monitoring regime had to be established to ensure compliance by both Israel and the Palestinians. It also called for an Israeli-Palestinian security agreement ahead of Palestinian elections in January. The group urged Israel to take steps to move to improve the living conditions of Palestinians and called for the immediate end to settlement building in the occupied territories.
It also called on Israel to ensure “full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel”.