Clinton: Peace only possible through negotiations

Quartet calls Israelis and Palestinians to meet within month to create formula by which peace talks can proceed; Israel reacts favorably.

quartet REUTERS 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
quartet REUTERS 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Quartet of Middle East mediators on Friday called on Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table based on a new time-line, by which a final status agreement to end the conflict would be reached by December 2012.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a strong statement in support of the new initiative by the group, made up of the UN, the EU, the US and Russia.
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“The US is very pleased that the Quartet was able to issue a statement with a detailed and concrete proposal to begin negations without delay or preconditions,” said Clinton.
“The Quartet proposal represents the firm conviction that a just and lasting peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties,” she said.
“We urge both parties to take advantage of the opportunity to get back to talks,” she said.
The Quartet issued its statement shortly after the Palestinian Authority appealed to the United Nations to grant them full membership in the United Nations.
Israel reacted favorably to the Quartet proposal and said that it was willing to sit down with the Palestinians according to the parameters set out by the Quartet.
At the United Nations in New York on Friday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated his refusal to talk with Israel unless it accepted the pre-1967 lines and halted settlement activity.
From that same building, however, the Quartet issued a statement calling for a preparatory meeting between both parties to be held within a month, that would create a method by which to proceed with peace talks, stalled since last year.
“At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiations is to reach an agreement within a time frame agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012,” the Quartet said in a statement.
Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, said that if the Israelis and Palestinians are serious about peace, they should respond positively to the initiative.
He added that any steps toward Palestinian membership at the United Nations could happen within the context of this process.
It is easier to handle the issue of Palestinian membership within the context of negotiations, he said.
According to the Quartet proposal, the parties are expected to come forward with proposals within three months on territory and security, the Quartet said.
It added that they were expected to have made substantial progress within six months with an eye to convening an international conference in Moscow.
Separately there will be a donor conference to support continued Palestinian state-building activity. The Quartet will also seek additional ways to support Palestinian statehood.
The Quartet called on the parties to refrain from “provocative action” and to adhere to their obligations under the Road Map.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “I sincerely hope that the parties will respond constructively to our statement.”
European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton told reporters that there had been intense diplomatic activity in the past months to get the parties back to the negotiating table. “This has been my primary objective in the belief that through negotiations we would end the conflict,” she said.
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