Sec. of State Hillary Clinton hosts Middle East Quartet diplomats in July 2011. (State Department)
President Obama has dispatched his envoys again to the Middle East, in another bid to stymie Palestinian plans to seek enhanced international recognition at the UN later this month.
White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross and State Department Middle East envoy David Hale departed for Israel Tuesday. Middle East experts in consultation with the administration say the U.S. envoys are engaged in two main efforts. First, they're pursuing a full-court press on Palestinian leaders to induce them to abandon their plans for a UN bid, by threatening U.S. aid could be cut, among other measures.
And second, Hale and Ross are trying to line up the international partners in the so-called Middle East "Quartet"—made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations--to join them in issuing a statement outlining terms for resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at some future point.
The "Quartet" bid highlights the degree to which Washington must negotiate with allies for international cover for its stalemated Middle East diplomacy efforts amid mounting international doubts. Beyond the central issue of how to get the long-feuding Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table--which no one seems to think is likely to happen in the near term--Washington to date has struggled to get the Europeans, Russians and UN to even agree on language to put in a prospective joint statement.
"The U.S. seems to have put all of its money on a Quartet statement," said Zvika Krieger, a Middle East expert with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, who consults frequently with the administration, in an interview with The Envoy Tuesday.Read More »from Obama envoys hope “Quartet statement” can avert Palestinian UN bid