Photo by: Reuters
Erekat: Quartet attempts to renew talks a failure
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL AND HERB KEINON
J'lem officials say Israel would support "all steps designed to bring about the expeditious beginning of direct talks.”
With the United States claiming that Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to meet with members of the Quartet in mid- December, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that attempts by the Quartet earlier this week to lay the groundwork for talks had failed.
“Quartet attempts to create an atmosphere suitable to relaunch negotiations and convince Israel to stop building in settlements have failed,” Erekat told Agence France Presse in reacting to an Israeli announcement that new building tenders would be issued for Jerusalem neighborhoods over the pre-1967 lines.
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Government officials in Jerusalem said that despite the disappointing results of the second round of talks that Quartet figures held separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials earlier this week, Israel would support “all steps designed to bring about the expeditious beginning of direct talks.”
One official said Israel hoped the international community would step in and place pressure on the Palestinian Authority to restart the negotiations without preconditions. The Palestinians say they will resume talks only if Israel freezes all settlement construction beyond the Green Line and agrees that a Palestinian state within the contours of the 1967 lines would serve as the basis for the negotiations.
The official said he could not imagine Israel turning down an invitation to another round of Quartet-mediated talks, but stressed that those discussions were not seen as a substitute for direct talks between the parties themselves on the core issues of security, borders, Jerusalem and refugees.
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