The last time the Middle East Quartet met, on July 11, it was unable even to issue a statement about the key issue before it—the Palestinian effort to get the UN General Assembly and Security Council to declare Palestine a state and admit it to membership. Nor has the Quartet been able to issue a statement about the attacks the Assad regime has been carrying out this week against Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, which have led thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes.
But it did on August 16 get itself organized to address what it apparently saw as a graver issue and a greater threat to peace, Israel’s announcement of plans to construct additional housing units in Jerusalem and Ariel.
Nowadays the Quartet seems able to reach agreement on only one thing: criticism of Israel. This is the lowest common denominator among the United States, EU, United Nations, and Russia, and it is pretty low indeed. If this is the only function of the Quartet, the better path would be to disband it now—for the statements it is making and the statements it seems unable to make combine to bring discredit on all participants.