Quartet urges Israel, Palestinians to create conditions for talks resumption
Top diplomats from the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, which make a group known as the Quartet, met here Thursday and urged Israel and the Palestinians to create conditions for the re-launching of negotiations, Xinhua reported.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the Quartet called on the two sides to "act on their previous agreements and obligations... to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations in the near term."
The Quartet is a diplomatic group in search of peace in the Middle East. It supports the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meaning an independent Palestine can live in peace with a secure Israel.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, and Quartet Representative Tony Blair were present at the meeting.
The statement welcomed the meetings Tuesday between U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as "significant steps toward the re-launching of direct, bilateral negotiations as part of a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
"Recognizing the significance of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet urges regional government to support the resumption of bilateral negotiations, enter into a structural regional dialogue on issues of common concern, and take steps toward normalization of relations across the region in the context of progress towards peace," the statement said.
"The Quartet stresses the urgency of a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis and calls for a solution that addresses Israel's legitimate security concerns, including an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza," the statement said.
Meanwhile, "the Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth," the statement said.
Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The World Court based in The Hague has ruled all the settlements illegal and U.S. president Obama has pressed Israel to halt all settlement activities as part of a bid to revive peace talks under which the Palestinians would gain independence alongside Israel.
The Quartet "calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism, and to end incitement," the statement added.