The brutal killing of a family of five Israeli settlers, all from one family and including three children, in the West Bank is deeply disturbing. Little is known of the killer’s motivations at the moment — but no matter what they were, this was a despicable act that makes tensions between Palestinians and Israelis worse.
It is good that the Palestinian leadership has condemned the killings — but it is the responsibility of governments to stabilize during times of stress, not to escalate to the irrational and emotional. The decision made by the Israeli government today in response to the killings to further expand settlement building in the West Bank is irresponsible and reckless. This makes settlements, controversial enough in their current context, a tool of war and conflict; perhaps that is what they have always been.
In any case, the lack of trust between Israelis and Palestinians has intensified because of the murders as well as Israel’s reaction.
We are watching the fast declne of moderates in Palestine — seeing that those who have been the most pro-American leaders and pro-peace deal who have favored negotiations over violence are seeing their legitimacy collapse. Those who use the currency of force, conflict, kidnapping, detention and provocations of many other kinds — on both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide — are the ones controlling the board.
What follows is the official statement of the Quartet released by the Department of State.
My condolences to the family, friends of the associates of those who were killed.
I still hope that the Israeli government finds its way back to behaving responsibly in times of stress and not making everything worse while simultaneously depending on others to defend its prerogatives as a state.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release — March 12, 2011
Joint Statement by the Quartet
The following statement was issued today in New York by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation, and the United States):
The Quartet condemns in the strongest possible terms the violent murder of an Israeli family of five, including three young children, in the West Bank today. The Quartet offers their condolences to the loved ones of the victims and to the Israeli people. Attacks on any civilians are completely unacceptable in any circumstance. The Quartet calls on those responsible to be brought to justice and welcomes the strong condemnation of this attack by President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.
The Quartet emphasized the need to expedite efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian and comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
— Steve Clemons