Quartet urges revival of Mideast peace talks

Quartet special envoy Tony Blair discusses ways forward for Palestinians and Israelis after the UN statehood submission.

    The United States and other powers have called for the Palestinians and Israel to resume direct peace talks within a month and commit to seeking a deal by the end of 2012.

    The Quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations acted after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally submitted his request to the United Nations for Palestine to be admitted as a full member on Friday.

    The United States has vowed to veto the unilateral bid at the UN Security Council, arguing that the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is the only real path to peace and statehood.

    Direct talks stalled in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, but the Quartet urged both sides on Friday to return to the table and plotted out a path forward.

    "We urge both parties to take advantage of this opportunity to get back to talks," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

    "The Quartet proposal represents the firm conviction of the international community that a just and lasting peace can only come through negotiations between the parties," she said, alluding to US opposition to the Palestinian bid.

    Quartet special envoy Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said the proposal was "the only way in the end we deal with the difficulties around the table and in negotiations."

    In response to the latest Quartet peace blueprint, the Palestinians urged Israel to seize the opportunity while an Israeli official said Tel Aviv was ready to resume negotiations.

    "We hope Israel will seize the opportunity offered by the Quartet," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

    "We are ready to assume our responsibilities according to the road map and international law, but Israel needs to assume its own and end settlement activity" in the occupied West Bank, he added.

    A senior Israeli official said his side was "currently studying the statement. We are ready to resume the negotiations".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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