Quartet to meet Israelis, Palestinians separately

International officials attempting to restart stalled peace negotiations between Israeli, Palestinian officials.

quartet REUTERS 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
quartet REUTERS 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - International mediators will meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials on October 26 in Jerusalem to try to revive direct peace talks that ended more than a year ago, the United States said on Monday.
Instead of meeting face-to-face as the mediators originally sought, the Israelis and Palestinians will hold separate talks with the "Quartet" made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.
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Analysts said the fact the Quartet could not meet even its own goals -- laid out in a Sept. 23 statement that called for a "preparatory meeting between the parties" within a month -- showed the extreme difficulty of reviving actual negotiations. The Quartet had previously said it wanted a meeting with Israelis and Palestinians no later than October 23.
Despite making Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority, US President Barack Obama has little to show for his efforts. His success at getting the parties back into direct talks in September 2010 collapsed within weeks over the issue of Israeli construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Obama's special envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, stepped down in May, and the Quartet has since taken a lead in the effort to restart the negotiations.
The last round ended after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month limited moratorium on settlement construction, something Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had demanded to continue negotiations.
"The Quartet envoys will be meeting with the parties in Jerusalem on Oct. 26 ... with the aim to begin preparations and develop an agenda for proceeding in the negotiations," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
He later said the Quartet envoys would meet separately with the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Quartet envoy Tony Blair, Britain's former prime minister, will attend the meetings, a spokesman for his office said.