Construction in Maale Adumim
Photo: AP

Quartet, US see direct talks soon

Draft of Quartet statement does not demand cessation of settlement construction for peace talks

Diplomatic sources said Thursday a Mideast Quartet statement on the renewal of peace talks would be published Friday, and US officials said an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct talks was "very, very close".


A draft of the Quartet statement reaffirms a "full commitment to its previous statements". Quartet statements from Moscow, Trieste and New York this year called for a halt to Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank. The draft, however, does not explicitly repeat that demand.


The Quartet, which includes representatives from the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, said in June that peace talks would be expected to conclude in 24 months. The new draft says 12 months.


Meanwhile US administration officials familiar with the matter said an announcement on talks could come as early as Friday or Saturday.


"We think we are very, very close to a decision by the parties to enter into direct negotiations," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters. "We think we're well positioned to get there."


The Arab League has committed to promoting direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently reiterated conditions he claims must be fulfilled before they are to get underway.


He said he was under great pressure from the US and Europe, and that he had "never experienced such pressure" in his life.


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.10, 22:55
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