Middle East Quartet to gather next week: agency
The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations' ways out of a dead-end will be discussed at a meeting of the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN) at the level of special envoys in Brussels next week, the Italian news agency AKI reported with reference to the Palestinian diplomatic sources.
The U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, as well as the special envoy of the Quartet, Tony Blair, and the high commissioner for foreign policy and EU security Kathryn Stein, and representatives from Russia and the UN will participate in the meeting. Mitchell will announce a new plan of Washington to resume peace talks soon, the agency reported.
This is the first top-level meeting to solve the conflict in the Middle East this year. Last time members of the Quartet discussed the peace process at a meeting of the UN General Assembly in September.
The Palestinian-Israeli talks were suspended a year ago. The main obstacle for their renewal is the ongoing construction in Jewish settlements of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) refuses from negotiating if the construction is not ceased.
Arab and Israeli media outlets wrote that Washington has prepared a new initiative to solve the impasse. The initiative envisages the immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue to achieve a final settlement of the conflict during two years. However, it is unknown whether this plan stipulates ceasing the construction.
During the last week intensification of the Arab countries to resume negotiations was also observed. Leaders of the Arab world met in Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus to discuss the next steps of the Arab world in solving the Palestinian problem. During a meeting with Syrian President Bashshar al-Assad in Damascus Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, said it is time for the Arab world to act more seriously, the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
The peace talks can be resumed after a trip of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Washington scheduled for January 8, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported with reference to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Special envoy of the White House Mitchell will also visit the Middle East next week.