Mideast Quartet seeks to restart peace talks

Oct. 26, 2011 at 12:23 PM
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JERUSALEM, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Negotiators from the Mideast Quartet are trying to restart stalled peace negotiations by meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

Quartet negotiators -- expected to include Quartet envoy Tony Blair, U.S. envoy David Hale, Helga Schmid from the EU, the United Nations' Robert Serry and a Russian representative -- are to meet Wednesday with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Quartet negotiators are to meet Thursday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, the Post said.

The talks are aimed at returning Israel and the Palestinians to bargaining.

The Quartet -- the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia -- has established a framework calling for an agreement between the two sides by the end of 2012.

An Israeli government source said the country backed the Quartet's call "for a resumption of talks without preconditions, and hope that the Quartet officials will expedite that goal."

The Post said the source, asked about reports Netanyahu could reduce settlement construction as a way to bring Palestinians back to the bargaining table, said only that as the diplomatic process moves forward, "Israel will be willing to show good faith."

But the source also said the Palestinian Authority can't abandon negotiations and go to the United Nations, then "ask (Israel) to act as if they are a peace partner."

The PA has said it would re-enter direct talks only if Israel freezes settlement construction beyond the Green Line and agrees to pre-1967 borders as the basis for the talks.

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