Mideast mediators will meet on July 11 to try to spur a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as the Palestinians prepare to seek recognition as an independent state, diplomats and a U.N. official said Friday.
The meeting of the so-called Quartet _ the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia _ will take place in Washington, a U.N. diplomat and U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private.
September looms large in the quest for Mideast peace because Israel and the Palestinians have agreed on President Barack Obama's target of September 2011 for a peace agreement, a date endorsed by the EU and much of the world.
When U.S.-brokered direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed last September, Obama announced at the General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting that a peace treaty should be signed in a year. But those talks collapsed weeks later after Israel ended its freeze on building settlements.
The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel stops building settlements in occupied areas. Israel maintains that the Palestinians should not be setting conditions for talks and that settlements didn't stop them from negotiating in the past.
With no sign of talks being revived, France, Britain and Germany launched an initiative in March to restart the stalled negotiations by proposing the outlines of a final settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including starting negotiations based on pre-1967 borders.
They wanted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union to propose a settlement text at a meeting of the Quartet. But the United States, Israel's closest ally, blocked Quartet meetings on the proposal in March and April, saying it wasn't the right time and a meeting wouldn't produce anything that would help restart the talks.
U.N. diplomats said they hope the July 11 Quartet meeting will not be canceled.
The U.S. State Department said it had no immediate comment.
In May, Obama outlined his "vision" for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, which the Quartet strongly endorsed.
In their statement, the Quartet agreed that Obama's starting point _ borders for Palestine, security for Israel _ provides "a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues."
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Obama's starting point for negotiations as "indefensible," saying the pre-1967 borders with agreed land swaps would leave major Jewish settlements outside Israel. He also insists that Jerusalem must remain in Israel hands and that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, accept a demilitarized Palestinian state, and drop demands for Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
The Palestinians have rejected these conditions and are pressing ahead with their campaign for statehood. They expect more than two-thirds of the 192 U.N. member states to back statehood and hope that with such strong support they can change the mind of U.S. leaders who appear poised to veto a resolution in the U.N. Security Council recommending admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.