Middle East Quartet meets for first time in Trump’s presidency
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Middle East Quartet meets for first time in Trump’s presidency

Convening in Jerusalem, envoys from US, Russia, EU and UN express concern over Gaza but say nothing about settlements, peace process

Jason Greenblatt, Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (Flash90)
Jason Greenblatt, Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14, 2017. (Flash90)

Envoys from the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — the so-called Middle East Quartet — met in Jerusalem on Thursday for the first time since the election of US President Donald Trump.

In a statement released by the Quartet, they “expressed serious concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed current efforts to resolve the crisis.”

The four also agreed to “meet again and to continue their regular engagement with Israelis and Palestinians, and key regional stakeholders.”

Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, currently visiting Israel, represented the US. The other delegates were European Union envoy Fernando Gentillini, the United Nation’s Nikolay Mladenov and a Russian delegate.

Unlike the last meeting of the Quartet in September, there was no condemnation of Israel’s West Bank settlement construction, and the group did not issue a call for a two-state solution.

The meeting took place on the same day that Israel and the Palestinian Authority announced an agreement that will provide millions of cubic meters of drinking water to the Palestinians from a desalination process.

Greenblatt hailed the agreement as a “harbinger of things to come.” At a joint press conference in Jerusalem, however, Greenblatt refused to take any questions regarding his bid to relaunch peace negotiations.

The US envoy, who earlier this week met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Palestinian negotiators as part of a bid to relaunch talks, noted that Thursday’s agreement is the second recent deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah to improve the daily lives of Palestinians. On Monday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended a ceremony launching a new Jenin electrical substation.

Founded in Madrid in 2002, the Quartet comprises four countries and international bodies involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. In the group has been accused by Israel of anti-Israel bias, and by the Arab nations of anti-Palestinian bias.

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