Mideast 'quartet' urges steps to resume peace talks

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2016 3:26 PM
Mideast 'quartet' urges steps to resume peace talks

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The international diplomatic "quartet" of Mideast peacemakers called once again on Friday for Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to resume stalled peace talks.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the top diplomats of the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States urged the parties to create conditions for restarting "meaningful" negotiations toward a two-state solution. For the Israelis, this means a halt to settlement construction on territory claimed by the Palestinians. For the Palestinians, it means an end to incitement of violence.

The diplomats were also joined by the foreign ministers of Egypt and France, whose countries have each proposed ideas to restart talks. The quartet said all participants had agreed on the importance of coordinating peace efforts.

Meeting later at a New York hotel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they had agreed to look at ways to promote peace and stability in the region.

"There are things we believe we can achieve in the next months and there are serious concerns we all have about security in the region," Kerry said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he "perceived a new dynamic developing" after meeting with Arab leaders and others involved in the peace effort this week at the United Nations.

Ayrault has been trying to rally support for France's proposal to organize an international conference before the end of the year to present Israelis and Palestinians with a package of incentives if they reach a peace agreement.

He said diplomats have been receptive to the idea this week. "Our path, our approach, our methods are understood and appreciated," Ayrault said at a news conference before the quartet meeting.

He acknowledged there was little encouragement to be found in the speeches that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a day earlier to the U.N. General Assembly. The two leaders presented starkly different visions of the path toward restarting peace talks.

Ayrault sidestepped a question about whether Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been receptive to the idea of an end-of-year meeting, saying "there is a still a lot of work to be done to achieve this conference."

In his speech, Abbas accused Israel of "continuing to evade" the international conference proposed by France.