RAMALLAH, July 17 (JMCC) - The United States sought to include assurances offered by the previous Bush administration accepting the existence of some Israeli settlements
in a Quartet statement last week, Haaretz reports
The move was thwarted by the European Union and Russia and resulted in the Mideast working group making no statement at all.
Senior European diplomats said that the failure of the Quartet meeting pushed the Palestinians even more toward turning to the UN. They say that responsibility for the failure of the meeting lies with the United States, which proposed to the other Quartet members - the EU, the UN and Russia - a one-sided wording for an announcement that favored Israel and which had no chance of being accepted by the Palestinians.
The U.S. version did include mention of negotiations being based on the 1967 borders with an exchange of territory, however, it also included portions of the letter of President George Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon which noted that the border changes would reflect the demographic changes on the ground since 1967. This implies the annexation of the settlement blocs to Israel.
The Israelis pressured the U.S. very heavily and the American wording was too blatant and unbalanced, senior European sources said. In the way things had been written there was no chance that the Palestinians would accept this.
European Union Foreign Policy head Catherine Ashton refused to accept the U.S. version and was joined by the Russians. She put forth a more moderate version, calling for negotiations on the principle of two states for two peoples, with mention to Resolution 181 on the division of Palestine in 1947. Unfortunately the Americans failed to convince the Israelis to accept this version, senior European diplomats said.
Former President George W. Bush's letter to Ariel Sharon was initially rejected by the Obama administration, which sought to downplay the commitment.
UPDATE: Sunday's al-Ayyam
reports the actual wording of the US text (although it should be noted that this has been translated to Arabic for the newspaper and then back to English for our readers).
The US text stipulated the following: “Permanent peace means two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as homeland for the Palestinian people and each state enjoys self determination and mutual recognition and peace.”
The US text also opposed the Palestinian move towards the UN; it said: “The two-state solution cannot be achieved through the UN or permanent occupation”.
[...] The text said: “both sides shall negotiate on the borders of Palestine and Israel which will be different from the borders that existed on June 4, 1967, in order to take into consideration the changes that occurred in the past 44 years, including the new demographic facts on the grounds and the needs of both sides.”