The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators is set to request on Tuesday that Israel extend the settlement moratorium currently in place in the West Bank, explaining that the freeze has had a positive impact on peace talks, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

"The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation," a draft statement by the Quartet said.

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The statement, due to be issued by the Quartet which is comprised of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, will increase pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to extend the the building freeze which is set to expire at the end of September.

The report comes a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to discuss the building freeze in Judea and Samaria.

"The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians requires brave decisions from both sides," Barak said, "and we can not let different disagreements complicate the process."

"We are at a historical time, with a real chance of a breakthrough to peace. Israel wants peace, but expects that any agreement will protect its security interests," the defense minister explained.

"Israel expects the US to protect its relative advantage over its neighbors," he added.



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