The Middle East quartet hopes stalled indirect peace talks may be unblocked soon [AFP]

The international "Quartet" of Middle East mediators has called on Israel to halt settlement acitivity and work with the Palestinians to achieve a peace agreement buy 2012.

Below are some of the highlights from the statment agreed by Russia, the United States, United Nations and European Union:


"The Quartet welcomes the readiness to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the proximity talks are an important step toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties.

"The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

"The Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.

"The Quartet condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The Quartet reaffirms its intention to closely monitor developments in Jerusalem and to keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground.

"The Quartet calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism and to end incitement.

"The Quartet further calls on all states in the region and in the wider international community to match the Palestinian commitment to state-building by contributing immediate, concrete and sustained support for the Palestinian Authority.

"The Quartet is deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population and stresses the urgency of a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.

"The Quartet condemns yesterday's rocket fire from Gaza and calls for an immediate end to violence and terror and for calm to be respected."

"The Quartet commits to remain actively involved on all tracks and to encourage and review progress, the Quartet reaffirms its previous statements and supports, in consultation with the parties, an international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time concurrent with direct negotiations."

Source: Agencies