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(photo credit: Moshe Milner, GPO)
American officials made progress on Wednesday in their efforts to draft a
statement that will initiate direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians,
Israeli diplomatic officials said.
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
associates have been working closely with the US on the exact wording of the
statement that will soon be published. They said the American statement would
serve as the basis for the talks and not an expected statement of the Middle
East Quartet – the US, Russia, European Union and United Nations.
interview with Israel Radio in Athens at the culmination of his twoday state
visit to Greece, Netanyahu downplayed the Quartet statement, which was expected
earlier this week and now is unlikely to be released before Monday, following
the return of UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon from a vacation.
been calling for direct talks for a year and a half and I hope we will soon
achieve them,” Netanyahu said. “The Quartet can say many things. It can say
things we accept or do not accept. That’s what’s happened before, and it will
again. But the talks must take place without preconditions.”
State Hillary Clinton is expected to work on the statements of the US and the
Quartet on Thursday, when she visits the UN to take part in a fund-raising event
for Pakistani flood victims.
In his monthly press briefing, UN Assistant
Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina
called for talks, but he did not set a deadline for the creation of a
Palestinian state as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has
“We hope that the leaders on both sides will seize this
opportunity and engage in a path of decisive progress toward a sustainable,
mutually acceptable, two-state solution within a realistic time frame,”
Fernandez- Taranco said.