Mideast Quartet supports Obama's vision for peace

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2011 1:34 PM
Mideast Quartet supports Obama's vision for peace

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- on Friday voiced strong support for U.S. President Barack Obama's vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security 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," the group said in a statement.

Setting out the principles of a peace agreement, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel's security on Thursday. He called for a peace deal resulting in two states, Israel and Palestine, sharing the border that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was meeting with Obama in Washington on Friday, reacted by saying this could leave Israel with borders that were "indefensible" and suggested the U.S. government does not understand the problems Israel faces.

"The members of the Quartet are in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," the Quartet's joint statement said.

Scheduled meetings of the Quartet in March and April were postponed at the request of the United States, which said the time was not right, U.N. diplomats have said.

"The Quartet reiterates its strong appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions," the Quartet said.

U.S.-supervised Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed last year after the Palestinian Authority pulled out of the negotiations in reaction to Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement activity.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bill Trott)