Quartet hopes to have statement by end of week

Diplomats working toward two-state solution as statehood bid "will not produce the kind of outcome that everyone is hoping for," Clinton says.

September 21, 2011 01:37
4 minute read.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Saul Loeb)


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NEW YORK – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday “extremely intensive ongoing diplomacy” will continue through the week toward the goal of a two-state solution, even as the clock ticks down to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to go to the United Nations Security Council Friday to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state.

“We are engaged in extremely intensive ongoing diplomacy, reaching out to not only the parties, but to all of the people who are here for the UN General Assembly,” Clinton said. “And we continue to believe – and are pressing the point – that the only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations.

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“And no matter what does or doesn’t happen this week, it will not produce the kind of outcome that everyone is hoping for,” Clinton said, alluding to the Palestinians’ efforts to gain UN state recognition for Palestine. “So we’re going to stay very much engaged and focused.”

When asked whether there was “wiggle room,” Clinton said diplomatic efforts would continue through the week.

“A lot of people are not even here yet,” she said.

“There’s been an enormous number of meetings by many different parties talking to each other. And I want to be fully informed about all of those conversations. But I think that everyone knows our position and, obviously, our goal is a two-state solution, and that’s what we’re going to keep working towards.”

Diplomatic efforts continue in earnest this week, with closed-door meetings taking place both among individual diplomats and the Quartet, composed of representatives from the US, UN, EU and Russia.

Senior US State Department officials said Monday the Quartet is working “to establish a pathway and a context for negotiations between the two parties that can lead to the goal that both Russia and the United States agree on, which is a two-state solution that is agreed between the two sides.”

That “pathway and context” is said to be a statement “that can help establish a pathway back to negotiations over time,” the wording of which members of the Quartet are grappling with in an attempt to have it completed this week.

Clinton was said to have spent a “significant amount of time” talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday about Middle Eastern issues, including the prospect of a Quartet statement.

Senior state department officials said Clinton made clear to the Russian foreign minister that she believes that action at the UN is not the best way forward for the Palestinians.

“She spent the bulk of her time encouraging the foreign minister to work with her on finding a way forward that would get the two parties back into negotiations,” the official said.

Speaking after the meeting, the State Department official said that both Lavrov and Clinton “want the Quartet to play a positive role in the overall effort – the bigger picture effort – to create an atmosphere of progress and a platform for successful negotiations to begin at an appropriate time.”

No one particular country, the official said, was a sticking point.

“Both the Palestinians and the Israelis – but also the Russians and the United States – agreed that the only way to produce a two-state solution that is the core mission of the Quartet and the core objective of the United States on this issue is to have negotiations that can work,” the official said.

“At the end of the day, the only outcome that will mark the end of what has been a very long process between these two parties is a negotiated solution of all of the permanent- status issues that yields two states living side-by-side in peace and security,” the official continued.

“That is the big picture that I’m talking about. It is the ultimate resolution of this conflict, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and then ultimately the conflict between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. And that is not going to be resolved here in New York this week, and that’s the message that the secretary has conveyed publicly, and it’s a message she’s conveying privately.”

The effort to get back to the negotiating table, the official said, is part of an intricate choreography “of the different moving pieces that are happening here – all of the conversations between us and the Palestinians and the Israelis, among the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Europeans, members of the Security Council, members of the General Assembly, members of the Quartet.”

A statement is expected from the Quartet this week.

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