Friday

28th Feb 2020

EU backs down on own role in Mid East

Ahead of a key Israeli cabinet meeting and a statement by the US, representatives of the Madrid Quartet – Russia, the EU, US and UN are meeting in Paris today and are set to agree the terms for monitoring the so-called ‘road map’ to peace.

The four representatives will meet on the fringes of the G8 foreign Ministers meeting taking place in the French capital today, with Israeli acceptance of the plan, the role of Yasser Arafat and monitoring of the plan at the top of the agenda.

Monitoring

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After weeks of ongoing negotiations, the EUobserver can reveal, that the four are set to agree on the critical question of how progress on the road map is monitored.

A deal carved from proposals from the EU, US and UN, will see a series of monitoring committees being set up chaired by different members of the Quartet.

Four main monitoring committees are proposed, Security (US), Reform (EU), Economic and Humanitarian matters (UN) and ‘Other matters’ (US).

It seems the EU has now backed down from calls that the configuration of the committees be such that the Quartet as a whole is responsible for monitoring key issues. A deal diplomats had previously called "unacceptable".

Washington in control

The nature of the road map makes the monitoring process extremely important.

The plan is currently more about broad strokes than fine detail with weakly defined concepts instead of concrete requests, so under the proposed configuration the chair will have substantial control over the groups, directing discussion and indeed setting out the agenda.

The plan’s sequencing is parallel, calling for parallel moves by both sides, with progress to the next stage being preconditioned on satisfying previous benchmarks.

In this set up Washington holds the keys to the whole of the peace process.

The US will chairing groups monitoring Security and ‘Other matters’ which, critically will include the issue of settlements and incitement to violence all key issues for Tel Aviv which are now likely to be put before humanitarian and democratic concerns.

"The Quartet has listened to the comments of Israel" said an Israeli diplomat.

Commission officials played down the proposed deal "this is not really the issue, we need Ariel Sharon to formally accept the road map first".

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz today reports that the Israeli cabinet will meet on Sunday to discuss accepting the plan, on the condition that the US makes a statement saying Israeli objections are taken into consideration. The key question is if they are taken into account before or after acceptance.

The EU and UN have long called for the plan to be accepted as it was agreed by the Quartet last year.

EU to restate claim in Mid East peace process

The Quartet will meet on Sunday in Jordan to provide a strong political statement that the international community is still working together towards the implementation of the Road Map, after a period of intense US engagement.

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