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UN set for Middle East vote
Quartet meets ahead of first Middle East Security Council resolution in five years.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2008 23:06 GMT
Palestinians say the international community has done little to help them [AFP]

The Middle East quartet of world powers have held talks in New York ahead of a United Nations Security Council vote on its first resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in five years.

The UN, European Union, Russia and the US held negotiations before Tuesday's vote on the resolution, which reaffirms support for a two-state solution and the results of the Annapolis peace talks held in the US last year.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, met EU foreign policy chiefs on Monday to discuss the issue.

Rice admitted that a settlement would not be reached by the end of year but said:  "This is the first time in almost a decade that Palestinians [and] Israelis are addressing all of the core issues to try to get to a comprehensive solution.

"It is really only possible to get to peace by dealing with all the core issues," she said.

Bush legacy

The council had met in an emergency session on Saturday to receive the US and Russia-sponsored resolution.

Despite some lingering reservations from Libya and South Africa, the resolution was expected to be approved on Tuesday.

The text calls on Israelis and Palestinians "to fulfil their obligations" from talks begun at Annapolis, Maryland, last year, and for all nations and international bodies "to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations".

But analysts say the attempt to secure a resolution through the UN could be an attempt to secure the legacies of Rice and George Bush, the US president, after heavy criticism of their perceived inaction over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bush leaves office on January 20, when Barack Obama, the US president-elect, will take over as president.

The meeting was announced on Friday by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to the UN, and Vitaly Churkin, his Russian counterpart, who both said the draft resolution was aimed at moving peace talks forward.

"The purpose would be to support the progress that has been made in the peace process and to encourage the sustainment and the successful conclusion of achieving the two-state solution and the Annapolis principles," Khalilzad said.

The talks have been stymied by ongoing violence, disputes over illegal Jewish settlement-building on Palestinian land and the future of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as a future capital.

Arab leaders also fear that the election of a right-wing, hawkish leader in Israel in elections in February could hamper the peace process further.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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