[Published 25 July 2016]
European Union High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini has publicly rejected PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s call for Arab nations to lobby the UN Security Council to not endorse a Quartet Report that Abbas considers biased in favour of Israel.
Addressing the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on 22 July - Mogherini declared:
“John Kerry and I sit together in quite an impressive number of different formats. Together we decided to revitalize the Middle East Quartet. The report we have come up with just a few weeks ago cannot be underestimated. For the first time ever, the US, the EU, Russia and the United Nations have agreed on a clear analysis of the situation on the ground, and also more importantly on recommendations on the way forward to turn the two states solution into reality.
Together we have also agreed to engage more regularly with the key Arab states such as Saudi Arabia — the initiator of the Arab Peace Initiative — Egypt — for obvious reasons — and Jordan —for its role in the Holy places".
The Report certainly cannot be underestimated — condemning and identifying the PLO and Hamas as fostering and condoning terrorism - including:
1. “recent acts of terrorism” against Israelis, and incitement to violence including over 250 attacks and attempted attacks by Palestinians against Israelis since October 2015 — resulting in at least 30 Israelis having been killed in stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks, and a bombing.Such hard-hitting language by the Quartet “for the first time ever” was ground-breaking - demolishing Arab propaganda that had for decades portrayed such conduct as being justified by the “occupation” or morally justifiable as the actions of “freedom fighters”.
2. Palestinians committing “terrorist attacks” being often glorified publicly as “heroic martyrs.”
3. Some members of Fatah - which Abbas heads - publicly supporting attacks and their perpetrators, as well as encouraging violent confrontation — including a senior Fatah official referring to perpetrators as “heroes and a crown on the head of every Palestinian.”
4. Palestinian leaders having not consistently and clearly condemned specific “terrorist attacks”. And streets, squares and schools having been named after Palestinians who have committed “acts of terrorism”.
5. The continuing illicit arms build-up in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups - including the building of tunnels, the smuggling of weapons, and the production and launching of rockets towards Israel.
The Quartet has finally made clear that the murders of innocent civilians in Tel Aviv, Kiryat Arba, Jerusalem and Itamar were equally as reprehensible as those murdered in Paris, Brussels, Ankara, Nice, Wurzburg, Sydney, Orlando and San Bernardino.
Abbas’s call to boycott the Quartet Report — and Mogherini’s public rebuke - has indeed rebounded on Abbas in spectacular fashion.
Victimhood and rejectionism must now be replaced with accountability and culpability.
Mogherini’s revelation that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan will now be more regularly engaged greatly diminishes the political influence of the PLO and Hamas.
Between 1948 and 1967 Egypt occupied and administered Gaza - whilst Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and East Jerusalem. Both enjoy signed peace treaties with Israel and are indispensable parties in resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict.
It is arguably no coincidence that retired Saudi General Anwar Eshki — heading a delegation of Saudi academics and business people—was meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai around the same time as Mogherini was addressing the Carnegie Endowment.
Diplomatic relations renewed this week between Israel and Guinea — a Muslim country and member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation — will hopefully encourage other member-countries doing likewise.
The winds of change are certainly blowing ...