Quartet to renew efforts to jumpstart talks

Conciliatory formulas include Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, in exchange for a settlement freeze.

November 13, 2011 07:06
3 minute read.
Quartet envoy Tony Blair and PM Netanyahu

Quartet envoy Tony Blair and PM Netanyahu 311 (R). (photo credit: Pool / Reuters)


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Quartet members plan to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah on Monday in an effort to restart peace talks.

A variety of conciliatory formulas have been explored by some of its members — the US, UN, EU and Russia — which includes Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, in exchange for a settlement freeze.

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Israel ready to submit borders proposal to Quartet
'We'll change face of the Mideast if settlements continue'

An alternative formula asks the Palestinians to drop their demand for a settlement freeze in exchange for acceptable language on the borders of a twostate solution.

But to date there has been no movement toward talks.

The Palestinians have stood firm on their request that Israel must freeze settlement activity in West Bank settlements and stop Jewish building in east Jerusalem neighborhoods. Israel has refused to heed this request, and has called on the Palestinians to resume talks without pre-conditions.

“We are ready for the immediate resumption of direct talks,” an Israeli official said.

“The Palestinians said they need terms of reference. We are ready for terms of reference that include difficult language [for Israel] on the issue of borders [in exchange for] more precise language on what the goal of the negotiations are; two states, a Jewish state and a Palestinian one,” the official said.

Speaking with reporters in Tunisia on Friday, Abbas said that the statehood bid did not contradict the peace process.

“Even if we gain membership, we will go back to the negotiations because what is between us and Israel on the ground can’t be solved in the UN, but at the negotiating table,” Abbas explained.

“We want coexistence with Israel on clear foundations,” he said. “We want a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the problem of the refugees.”

Abbas denied that the Quartet members have been exerting undue pressure on the PA leadership to resume peace talks with Israel.

He reiterated his support for the Quartet initiative that was announced on September 24, and which calls for the resumption of the peace process, even though he is not yet willing to negotiate with Israel.

“It was a good statement and we are waiting to see it translated into deeds on the ground,” the PA president said. “We support it – especially because it calls for the resumption of the peace negotiations on the basis of clear terms of reference.”

The statement proposed that the PA and Israel hold a preparatory meeting within a month and commit to reaching an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties, but no longer at the end of 2012.

The two parties are expected to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months.

The Quartet also called upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective.

Separately, in the same conversation with the reporter, Abbas confirmed plans to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal later this month to discuss ways of ending the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas.

“Hamas is part of the Palestinian people and we should consult with it,” Abbas said.

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