ICG: Quartet “done more harm than good”

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The diplomatic body known as the Middle East “Quartet”–the U.S., UN, EU and Russia–is a fraud that “has done more harm than good,” the International Crisis Group argues in a bracing new report on the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian peace process, entitled “The Emperor has no clothes: Palestinians and the end of the peace process.”

“Palestinian recourse to the UN is a symptom, at base, of international failure to lead and provide effective mediation,” the ICG report says. “The body responsible for doing so, the Quartet, has delivered precious little since its 2002 inception; by creating an international forum [that favors] … a mushy, lowest-common-denominator consensus, it arguably has done more harm than good.”

“The inescapable truth, almost two decades into the peace process, is that all actors are now engaged in a game of make-believe,” it continues.

“The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognise that it is so – to acknowledge, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes.”

Full report (.pdf) here.

ICG, of course, isn’t the first to conclude the negotiating body hopelessly broken. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for one, put it only slightly more obliquely last summer.

Speaking at the Russian embassy last July the day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted him and other members of the Quartet for a working dinner–at which the diplomatic VIPs could not even agree amongst themselves on a common statement to issue in a press release, never mind the parties to the conflict–Lavrov made clear that only one thing prevented the meeting from being a total failure.

“The wine was very good,” he said, I reported (in a piece titled ‘Quartet reset’).

(Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a dinner for members of the Quartet in Washington July 11, 2012. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.)