Middle East Quartet is Failing, Warn Aid Agencies

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Crisis Action on 0207 269 9450 or 07951 244 362 or email gemma.mortensen@crisisaction.org

Oxfam International

Middle East Quartet is Failing, Warn Aid Agencies

INTERNATIONAL - The Middle East Quartet
(EU, Russia, UN, USA) is failing - making inadequate progress towards
improving the lives of Palestinians nor improving the prospects for
peace - according to a new report by leading aid agencies published
today (Thursday 25 September).

The Middle East Quartet: A
Progress Report
' is released on the eve of a crucial meeting of the
Quartet members in New York to discuss the future of the Middle East
peace process. The coalition of 21 aid agencies and human rights
organizations - including CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Oxfam
International, Save the Children UK and World Vision Jerusalem - warns
that key areas the Quartet committed to improving remain unchanged or
have deteriorated since the Annapolis Conference last November, when
the group launched its major bid for peace in the Middle East:

  • Settlements:
    The Quartet has failed to hold the Israeli authorities to account for
    the continued expansion of illegal settlements. According to the
    report, the Quartet has spoken out about settlements 18 times and yet
    settlement expansion is accelerating and taking a drastic toll on
    Palestinian daily life.
  • Access and Movement:
    The Quartet has had negligible impact in their stated goal of improving
    Palestinians' ability to move freely in their own territory, to work,
    reach their schools or access basic services and to import and export
    goods. The number of restrictions - including check-points, the Wall
    and restricted roads - increased from 561 in November 2007, when
    Annapolis began, to around 600 in August 2008.
  • Gaza:
    Despite the cessation of violence in Gaza, the Quartet has been unable
    to lift the blockade or secure a significant improvement in the
    humanitarian situation.  80% of Gaza's population remains wholly or
    partially dependent on aid and stalled emergency relief projects have
    yet to be resumed.

David Mepham, Director of Policy, Save
the Children UK said: "Today's study shows that the Quartet has
fundamentally failed to improve the humanitarian situation on the
ground. Unless the Quartet's words are matched by more sustained
pressure and decisive action, the situation will deteriorate still
further. Time is fast running out. The Quartet needs to radically
revise its existing approach and show the people of the region that it
can help make a difference."

The report assesses progress made on
ten of the Quartet's own objectives, using data gathered by the aid
agencies that work on the ground. The objectives include:

  • Israel to freeze all settlement activity including natural growth and to dismantle outposts
  • Urgent steps needed to improve access and movement
  • Respect of cessation of violence between Hamas and Israel
  • Increased
    humanitarian and commercial flows through the Gaza crossings and the
    immediate resumption of stalled UN and other donor projects in Gaza
  • Continued Palestinian efforts to fight terrorism and to implement a more comprehensive security strategy

The
report found that in five of the ten areas - including the most
critical - rather than securing progress, there had either been no
change or a marked deterioration.

It reveals that, since
Annapolis, the Quartet has had partial achievements - in supporting
Palestinian security sector reform, securing donor pledges, increasing
fuel for Gaza and stimulating private sector activity - but has been
unable to deliver change in the most pressing areas. The report warns
that the Quartet's failures could pose a fatal threat to peace.

Daleep
Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid, said: "The Annapolis process was
meant to herald a new dawn for the Middle East peace process. Nearly
one year on, we are seeing exponential settlement growth, additional
check-points and - because of this - further economic stagnation. The
Quartet is losing its grip on the Middle East Peace Process."

Based on this evidence, the coalition calls on the Quartet to use tomorrow's meeting in New York to:

  • Enforce
    the deals they brokered and ensure all parties are held to account for
    any failure to comply with their obligations under the peace process
    and international humanitarian and human rights law.
  • Support
    efforts to pass a resolution at the UN Security Council to address the
    humanitarian and economic impact of settlement expansion on Palestinian
    communities and the broader peace process.
  • Adopt a new approach
    to improving access and movement in the occupied Palestinian territory,
    removing the network of restrictions rather than tackling individual
    obstacles while addressing Israeli security concerns.
  • Commit to bringing a swift end to the blockade of Gaza and the policy of collective punishment.
  • Strengthen
    the cessation of violence between Hamas and Israel and work with
    regional governments to promote Palestinian reconciliation.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Martha
Myers, Country Director for CARE International West Bank and Gaza,
said: "We are facing a vacuum in leadership. The Quartet has been
unable to hold parties to their obligations and this must change fast.
The Quartet's credibility is on the line and we hope it will use this
meeting to show it is able to go beyond rhetoric and make a real
difference to the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

Read the report: The Middle East Quartet: A Progress Report

 

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