Quartet on the Middle East
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The Quartet on the Middle East or Middle East Quartet, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or simply the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The group was established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Tony Blair is the Quartet's current Special Envoy.
The initiative to establish the Quartet evolved following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 and the futile cease-fire attempts that followed. On October 25, 2001, representatives of the EU, UN and the US and Russian governments met Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and jointly expressed support for his policy of implementing cease-fire and security reforms in the Palestinian Authority. During the Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas in April 2002, the representatives of the same four entities met in Madrid and again called for implementation of cease-fire agreements brokered by the US government before. In the same meeting, they also agreed to transform their quadripartite cooperation into a permanent forum for follow-up of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
James Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank, was appointed Special Envoy for Israel's disengagement from Gaza in April 2005. He stepped down the following year because of restrictions in dealing with the Islamic militant group Hamas and the withholding of money from the Palestinian Authority, risking its collapse.
Tony Blair announced that he had accepted the position of the official envoy of the Quartet, the same day he resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as a Member of Parliament on 27 June 2007. The approval came after initial objections by Russia. The United Nations is overseeing the finances and security of his mission.
Peace efforts and actions
Tony Blair has periodically travelled to the Middle East following his appointment as Special Envoy. On a trip there in March 2008, he met with Israeli leaders to discuss recent violence. A planned meeting between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen was postponed due to recent fighting. In May 2008 Tony Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan.
In an August 2009 interview, Tony Blair said he would like to see Hamas and Hezbollah included in peace talks but under the right conditions, that religious leaders should be more involved in the peace process, and that resolving the conflict could be easier than it was in Northern Ireland.
In a speech given in Israel on August 24, 2010, Tony Blair sharply criticised the campaign of "delegitimization" being carried out by enemies of Israel and proponents of the Palestinians, which refuses to grant Israel its legitimate right to its own point of view and self-defense. "Don't apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country," he said. He characterized such double standards and prejudice as being an "affront to humanity" which "it is a democratic duty to counter."
- United Nations — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- European Union — High Representative Baroness Ashton of Upholland
- United States — Secretary of State John F. Kerry
- Russia — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Criticism and shortcomings of the Quartet
Despite the significance officially attached to the Quartet's part in promoting the peace process, many of its statements are merely repetition of previous statements and no significant changes in policy by either the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority occurred resulting from a Quartet meeting.
In December 2012, Palestinian officials declared Tony Blair's job, and the Quartet he represents, to be "useless, useless, useless".
Quartet's meetings have been held on the following dates:
- May 2, 2002
- July 16, 2002 - proclaimed the Road Map for the two states solution.
- September 17, 2002
- December 20, 2002
- February 19, 2003
- June 22, 2003
- September 26, 2003
- December 11, 2003
- May 4, 2004
- July 7–8, 2004
- September 22, 2004
- March 1, 2005
- April 14, 2005
- May 9, 2005
- June 23, 2005
- September 20, 2005
- October 28, 2005
- December 5, 2005
- January 26, 2006
- March 30, 2006
- May 9, 2006
- June 17, 2006
- September 20, 2006
- November 15, 2006
- December 22, 2006
- February 2, 2007
- February 21, 2007
- March 21, 2007
- May 30, 2007
- June 27, 2007
- July 20, 2007
- September 23, 2007
- November 26, 2007
- December 18, 2007
- May 2, 2008
- June 24, 2008
- September 26, 2008
- November 9, 2008
- June 26, 2009
- September 24, 2009
- March 19, 2010
- May 11, 2010
- June 21, 2010
- August 20, 2010
- May 20, 2011
- July 11, 2011 - convened in order to find a formula for restarting bilateral negotiations; ended without any results.
- August 16, 2011 - condemned settlement expansion in Ariel and East Jerusalem.
- September 23, 2011 - issued a new schedule for resumption of negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which called for completing negotiations by end of 2012.
- October 9, 2011 - called upon the parties to resume negotiations.
- October 26, 2011 - meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem.
- December 14, 2011
- January 3, 2012
- March 12, 2012
- April 11, 2012
- Joint statement, October 25, 2001
- Letter dated 10 April 2002 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council
- "Secretary-General Welcoms James Wolfensohn's Appointment by Quartet" (Press release). "United Nations. 14 April 2005.
- Stephen Farrell (3 May 2006). "West 'has to prevent collapse' of Palestinian Authority". The Times. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- "Blair appointed Middle East envoy". BBC News. 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- "Quartet at loggerheads over scope of authority for Mideast envoy". Haaretz. 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report meeting 5736 on 29 August 2007 (retrieved 2007-09-02)
- Livni: Israel not expanding settlements, By HERB KEINON, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, AND TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, 3/13/08.
- Israel may ease grip in Tony Blair deal to revive West Bank, The Times May 14, 2008
- "Terrasanta.net" (in (Italian)). Theholylandreview.net. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- Tony Blair, "It is a democratic duty to counter delegitimisation of Israel," full text at http://www.antidef.org.au/tony-blair-on-delegitimization-of-israel/w1/i1012041/ and summarized by Herb Keinon in the “Jerusalem Post” of Aug. 25, 2010, "Delegitimization of Israel is affront to humanity," at http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=185860.
- Nathalie Tocci, The EU, the Middle East Quartet and (In)effective Multilateralism
- 'Useless, useless, useless': the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair's job - Middle East - World - The Independent
- Statement of Aug. 16, 2011
- Statement of September 23, 2011
- Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, following the Middle East Quartet Envoys' Meeting in Brussels
- Office of the Quartet Representative
- US Mission to the UN archive of press releases pertaining to the Middle East
- UN News Focus: Middle East archive of Middle East Quartet statements
- Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in London, 1 March 2005
- Joint Statement by the Quartet, upon meeting in Moscow, 19 March 2010
- Middle East Quartet Statements U.S. State Department
- President Welcomes Quartet Principals to White House, press release from meeting of the Quartet Principals on 20 December 2002
- "Tony Blair's UN Role May Conflict with New Job with JP Morgan Chase" by Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, January 10, 2008