Sidelined: U.S. fails for the second time in Quartet discussions on ‘Jewish state’

This article originally appeared in Mondoweiss.

While the Diplomatic Quartet scrambled to avert action on Palestine at the Security Council, the Obama administration was reportedly busy lobbying to commit the Quartet to affirming Israel’s Jewish character.  That the Quartet statement’s purpose was not achieved and that the Obama administration’s efforts failed further highlights the death of the Oslo era and the decreasing relevance of the U.S. in a fast changing Middle East.

The weak Quartet statement only proposed a timeline for more negotiations, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) didn’t find anything in the statement that might coax them to talk with an Israeli government continuing to colonize Palestinian land.  The UN bid by the PA further sidelines a Quartet whose envoy is strongly biased against the Palestinians.

And the Obama administration’s failure to turn the Quartet into even more of a biased mediator marks the second time they have failed to do so; Daniel Levy first reported for Foreign Policy that the U.S. tried to get the Quartet to state that Israel was the “homeland of the Jewish people” for the first time in July. (See this excellent piece in Mondoweiss—originally in the Journal of Palestine Studies—explaining why Palestinians can’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.) The U.S. failure to get the Quartet to agree to sign on to Israel’s new condition that the Palestinians become Zionists surely marks a new, and low, era for U.S.-brokered negotiations.

Jonathan Cook correctly writes in the National that the whole Palestinian bid for statehood represents a death knell for the U.S. role in Israel/Palestine:

If Mahmoud Abbas, the long-suffering head of the Palestinian Authority, has  achieved anything for his people at the UN, it is not imminent statehood but the  fatal discrediting of the US as arbiter of a Middle East peace. US President  Barack Obama’s promised veto on a Palestinian state declares the demise not only  of the Oslo process but also of the US role as an honest broker.

The Palestinian statehood bid is fast making the U.S., who has spent decades as Israel’s lawyer, irrelevant. No one is crying over the loss.

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