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The EU, the Middle East Quartet and (In)effective Multilateralism


In the past, mediation of the Arab-Israeli conflict was unilateral in character and dominated by the United States (US). In the 21st century, time seemed ripe for a reshuffle of Middle East mediation. In 2002, the “Middle East Quartet” was created, constituted by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations (UN) and the US. A decade later, has the Quartet affirmed itself as an effective multilateral forum, and has the EU contributed to the realization of this goal? Alas, the Quartet has not affirmed itself as either a genuinely multilateral or effective mediation forum . Its activities have reflected either the EU’s unsuccessful attempts to frame American initiatives within a multilateral setting, or the US’s successful attempts at providing a multilateral cover for unilateral actions. The Quartet is not without value. But to play a useful role, it should be enlarged and reshaped as a forum to establish a renewed international consensus on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Paper prepared within the framework of Mercury, a project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union. Published in: Caroline Bouchard, John Peterson and Nathalie Tocci (eds.), Multilateralism in the 21st Century. Europe's Quest for Effectiveness, London and New York, Routledge, August 2013, p. 264-281, ISBN 978-0-415-52003-4; 978-0-415-52004-1 (pbk). Revised version: "The Middle East Quartet and (In)effective Multilateralism", in The Middle East Journal, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Winter 2013), p. 29-44.

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