“We agreed that all relevant parties must work urgently for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We support a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. We call for the necessary steps to build trust and urge the parties to work toward the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions, taking note of the Sept. 23, 2011, statement of the Middle East Quartet. We affirm our support for the Palestinian Authority and its state-building efforts and encourage the international community to extend the fullest assistance possible to revitalizing the Palestinian economy.“
The above statement is part of the final communiqué of the leaders of the Group of Eight countries that met Tuesday in Northern Ireland.
The 110-word paragraph failed to make any mention of the illegal Israeli settlements. This "balanced" statement attempted to give equal weight to the occupier and occupied and failed to even take note that 46 years have passed since the Israeli aggression on Arab lands in 1967. The Israeli aggression that is rejected in the preamble of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which talks about the "inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force."
Instead of pointing out who is the aggressor and refuser of peace, the leaders of the eight most industrialized countries in the world totally adopted the language of the Israelis. While talking about “support for the two-state solution” and referring again to the need for "an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state," it makes no direct reference to the mechanism needed to get to this state. G8 leaders are giving lip service to a two-state solution that top Israel officials are rejecting and insisting has never been discussed in Cabinet and which, if it came to a vote, would be defeated.
It is strange that while senior Israelis are so dismissive of the two-state solution, G8 countries reiterate the Israeli position calling for “negotiations without preconditions.” Does that mean that the world leaders want to spare the Israelis of even having to agree to the framework of the two-state solution that they have reiterated support for? Maybe some of the newer leaders of the G8 don’t remember the statement made by Yitzhak Shamir in the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, that Israel will negotiate for 10 years without giving up any land. Today, 20 years after that statement, the Israeli success at dodging any effort to provide a binding mechanism to end the occupation continues to be the only game in town.
In adopting the Israeli language and policies, it is not surprising that the G8 also called on the world's countries to help fund the occupation, relieving the Israelis of this internationally binding mandate. The G8 call for the fullest assistance possible in revitalizing the Palestinian economy seems to be taken from the Netanyahu playbook, in which he favors an economic peace rather than a political one.
To be fair, the G8 leaders do make a reference to a statement made by the Quartet back in 2011. Is the Quartet, made up of the EU, US, Russia and the UN —which has barely met in the last few years — being revived again as a mechanism to get some results in a conflict that has seen leaders come and go without any progress in the talks or in even getting to the talks?
Russia’s presence and prominence (possibly due to its strategic role in Syria) might be the reason why the G8 statement refers specifically to the Sept. 23, 2011, statement of the Middle East Quartet. That statement, which tries to put a time-based mechanism on the peace process, calls for an international conference to be held in Moscow once the parties agree to at least a single face-to-face meeting, provided that neither side carries out provocative actions, to give negotiations a chance.
International economic summits are not expected to create major policy statements. The latest meeting of the leaders of the industrial countries in Ireland has failed to break any new ground on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But placing the clause on the peace process at No. 89 in a 96-clause statement shows how low a priority resolving the conflict is in the eyes of these leaders. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry may have started the Obama second term with active involvement in the Middle East peace process, but — as in the first term, the moment they encounter resistance — the Americans are passive rather than confronting the problem and declaring which party is the real obstacle to peace.
Daoud Kuttab is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor's Palestine Pulse. A Palestinian journalist and media activist, he is a former Ferris Professor of journalism at Princeton University and is currently the director-general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. On Twitter: @daoudkuttab.