quartet dinner washington.
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
NEW YORK – Diplomatic efforts continued apace behind closed doors Monday to
bridge differences between Israelis and Palestinians and potentially undo the
United Nations standoff forecast for Friday, at which point Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will bring the question of
Palestinian statehood before the Security Council.
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Members of the Quartet
met over the weekend and will continue to meet down to the wire, former British
prime minister Tony Blair told reporters Sunday night, with the hope of
restarting negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
aims for this week, Blair said, are to significantly advance Palestinian
statehood and to get Israeli- Palestinian negotiations back on
While Blair did state that the Palestinians were “entitled” to
approach the UN unilaterally, he also reasserted the Quartet’s preference for
Blair said Sunday that negotiations would
potentially lead to peace that would not be theoretical, but “real and on the
Blair told reporters that the Palestinians are concerned with
the “credibility” of negotiations, and that the Quartet hopes to put together a
structure and timeline for negotiations this week.
said that Abbas’s public statements of unilateral state-declaring efforts had
put the Palestinian leader in a difficult position.
While many said it
was not too late for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and to
end their pursuit of UN recognition – the Palestinians have yet to submit a
formal request to the Security Council – some said Abbas would lose face from
such a move.
“It’s a very tall tree Abu Mazen climbed, raising the
expectations of his people,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said
Sunday night. “It’s hard for him to climb down, even though that would be the
right thing to do.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the UN
General Assembly Monday that the best outcome would be for the Palestinians and
Israelis to return to direct negotiations.
“What we want to see is
negotiations that bring about a Palestinian state, the so-called two-state
solution of Israel being able to live in peace and security but a viable
Palestinian state alongside it,” Hague said.
Hague told the General
Assembly that the EU has deliberately “withheld our position on how we would
vote on any resolution that may come forward in the General Assembly in order to
exert as much pressure on both sides to return to negotiations. That is the only
real way forward.”
Hague said that submitting a letter to the Security
Council would “just lead to confrontation,” and that he planned to meet with
Blair later in the day Monday.
“It’s not clear how many of the members of
the Security Council would support it but it would leave no one any further
forward,” Hague said. “Now there are other options for the Palestinians, other
motions they can put forward in the General Assembly best of all, as I say, an
agreement to return to negotiations with the Israelis, with the Israelis
agreeing to that as well. And that is what we will be putting pressure on both
sides to do.”