The Quartet on Monday failed in its latest bid to resume peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Israel is disappointed that the Palestinians have not picked up the ball,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post after a Jerusalem meeting the Quartet held with the prime minister’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molho.

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“The [ Palestinians] refused to accept the Quartet’s call for the immediate resumption of talks,” said the official.

The Palestinians in turn said they were disappointed that Israel had not heeded their call to freeze settlement construction and Jewish east Jerusalem building.

“We are ready to discuss all final status issues once Israel proves its seriousness and commitment by freezing all its illegal settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in occupied east Jerusalem,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after a Ramallah meeting with the Quartet.

Israel, Erekat said, must also accept “clear terms of reference, specifically the 1967 border.

“We cannot understate the importance of this issue,” he said.

“These are not favors that Israel is doing for us. This is an integral component of the formula for a credible exchange that would ensure a speedy and successful conclusion to the occupation and conflict”, Erekat said.

But an Israeli official noted that, in the past, talks took place without this demand and that there was no need at this time to introduce new barriers to the process.

“Israel remains ready for the immediate resumption of peace talks without preconditions,” the Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post.

“Unfortunately the Palestinians continue to put their own conditions on the table and despite the diplomatic language that they are using, the bottom line is that they are refusing to allow direct negotiations to start,” the Israeli official said.

In a statement it released to the press, the Quartet said, that its envoys and Quartet Representative Tony Blair  “continued to encourage the parties to resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions.”

“Envoys discussed with the parties their development of proposals on territory and security in the context of our shared commitment to direct talks on the basis of the 23 September 2011 Quartet statement,” the statement said.

“Envoys called upon the parties to create a conducive environment for restarting talks and urged the parties to refrain from provocative actions,” the statement said.

The Quartet said it would remain in close touch with Israeli and Palestinians officials. It added that it would have a follow-up-meeting in December.

During the Ramallah meeting, Erekat gave the Quartet a letter from the PLO Executive Committee, asking that it support their demand for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails; particularly those incarcerated before the 1993 Oslo Accords.

The Palestinians said that former prime minister Ehud Olmert had promised that such a release would occur after IDF soldier Gilad Schalit had been freed from captivity in Gaza. These prisoners, he had told the PA, would be in addition to those freed by Israel in exchange for Schalit last month.

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