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Quartet statement on Middle East peace strangely silent on settlements

The Middle East Quartet statement calling for a resumption of political talks between the Palestinians and Israelis fell silent on a critical provision in previous statements — that is, a comment on Israeli settlements. Glenn Kessler, a colleague at the Washington Post, who has covered Middle East peace efforts for years, drew my attention to ...

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The Middle East Quartet statement calling for a resumption of political talks between the Palestinians and Israelis fell silent on a critical provision in previous statements — that is, a comment on Israeli settlements.

Glenn Kessler, a colleague at the Washington Post, who has covered Middle East peace efforts for years, drew my attention to the omission, saying he couldn’t “recall a major Quartet statement that was so silent on settlements.” Kessler, who now writes the Post‘s Fact Checker column, recalled that the Obama administration “ramped up the language” after it came into power, marking a shift from the milder criticism in statements adopted during Bush administration. “But now to have nothing on settlements, well, that’s a big switch,” he said.

Check out last year’s statement:

The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation.  The Quartet recalled that unilateral actions by either party, including settlement activity, cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.

Or the year before:

The Quartet urges the Government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem,

or when Barack Obama first became president:

The Quartet urged the Government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth; to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem, including home demolition and evictions.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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