A statement by the Quartet that was expected to lead to long-awaited direct
talks between Israel and the Palestinians has been delayed due to disputes
between the United States and European Union, Israeli diplomatic sources
The Quartet, which is made up of the US, EU, UN, and
Russia, was expected to bring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to
the negotiating table by releasing a statement early this week about the basis
for direct talks.
The United States was then set to issue its own
invitation for talks without preconditions as Israel has requested. But USEU
infighting has delayed both statements.
“The Quartet has not been able to
come to an agreement, so its statement may only come out Thursday, Friday or
possibly just next week,” a senior Israeli diplomatic official told The
“The EU has agreed to the Palestinian stipulations of the
talks leading to the creation of a Palestinian state based on pre- 1967 borders
with Jerusalem as its capital within one year, but the Americans have not
accepted these preconditions. Since they couldn’t come to terms. It will
probably take a few more days,” the official said.
Binyamin Netanyahu, who is on a state visit to Greece, reiterated to reporters
covering his meeting with Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos that
“Israel wants direct talks without preconditions.”
While Netanyahu told
reporters on Monday that he believed direct talks would begin very soon and his
associates said they would begin by next week, President Shimon Peres delivered
a more sober assessment.
He told Arab local council heads whom he hosted
Tuesday for the Ramadan post-fast iftar meal that he believed direct talks would
only begin following Ramadan, which ends September 8.
Yuval Steinitz said on a visit to Efrat in Gush Etzion on Tuesday that the
10-month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria was a mistake and that
building would resume immediately when the freeze ends September
Steinitz was the 12th cabinet minister to visit Efrat in recent
months and call there for the resumption of construction.
“It is not in
the best interests of the Palestinians to demand preconditions for direct talks,
because we can do the same thing,” Steinitz said.