Israeli-Palestinian talks must resume - Mideast Quartet


Mahmoud Abbas said he hoped for swift backing of the Palestinian bid

The Quartet of Middle East negotiators has urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks within one month and aim for a deal by the end of 2012.

The Quartet - the EU, UN, US, Russia - acted after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted his bid to the UN for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010.

The Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN the core of the conflict was not settlements but the refusal of the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

'Comprehensive proposals'

"Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation," a Quartet statement said.

"At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012."

Palestinian UN membership bid

  • Palestinians currently have permanent observer entity status at the UN
  • They are represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)
  • Officials now want an upgrade so a state of Palestine has full member status at the UN
  • They seek recognition on 1967 borders - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza
  • Enhanced observer member status could be an interim option

The Quartet said that both Israel and the Palestinians should then produce "comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security," and "substantial progress" should be achieved within six months.

An international conference to fine-tune all outstanding issues would be held in Moscow "at an appropriate time," the Middle East negotiators added.

They said that Israeli and Palestinian leaders were now studying the Quartet proposals.

EU foreign policy chief Baroness (Catherine) Ashton said she hoped both sides would react positively to the plan.

"If ever there was a time to resolve this conflict, it is now," Lady Ashton said.

"It is now because Israel worries about its security, because the people of Palestine have waited long for their country."

Standing ovation

Start Quote

The time has come for my courageous and proud people... to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland”

End Quote Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian leader

The Quartet unveiled its proposals shortly after Mr Abbas formally submitted the request for a Palestinian state to become a full member of the UN.

Addressing the General Assembly in New York, he urged the Security Council to back a state with pre-1967 borders.

"I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favour of our full membership," Mr Abbas told the General Assembly, in what was for him an unusually impassioned speech.

"I also appeal to the states that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to do so," Mr Abbas said.

"The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland," he said.

He added that he hoped for swift backing. Many delegates gave him a standing ovation, and some were clapping and even whistling in support.

Hours after receiving it, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon transmitted the Palestinian request to the Security Council.

Nawaf Salam, Lebanon's ambassador to the UN and the current Security Council president, said the application would be discussed on Monday.

In order to pass, it would need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members, but it could take weeks to reach a vote.

Currently the Palestinians have observer status at the UN.

'Who's to stop us?'

Benjamin Netanyahu: "Palestinians should first make peace with Israel, and then get their state."

Israel and the US say a Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks with Israel - not through UN resolutions.

"I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace," Mr Netanyahu said in his speech at the General Assembly.

"Let's meet here today in the United Nations. Who's there to stop us?" he added.

President Barack Obama told Mr Abbas earlier this week that the US would use its UN Security Council veto to block the Palestinian bid.

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says this is significant because the Palestinians may yet apply to the General Assembly for enhanced status if their Security Council bid fails.

A spokesman for the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, criticised Mr Abbas' speech.

Salah Bardawil said Mr Abbas had deviated from the aspirations of the Palestinian people by accepting the 1967 borders, which he said left 80% of Palestinian land inside Israel.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, crowds roared their approval as Mr Abbas demanded UN acceptance of a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders.

"With our souls, with our blood, we will defend Palestine," they said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    @ Mike Solomons: With all the propaganda, we forget that ALL the land used to belong to Palestinians and administered by Britain! The 1967 borders they are asking for is only about 20% of what they used to own! Israel with the help of US is not even willing to give them up to 20% of what they used to own! Why should Egypt give up their own land for peace but Israel hold on to what is not theirs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I understand the Palastinians wanting a recognised state and a country to call their own but I find it hard to believe that Israel will accept the borders proposed as it includes East Jerusalem. The Palastinians need to be more realistic about it and should be willing to negotiate and compromise if they want a free and recognised state as a long-term and sustainable peace needs to be achieved here

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Yes, having an unpleasant past with many sufferings, long-enduring breaths and at last came the day to show the whole world who are they and what they want and what is it they want. Palestinias have not asked for side-by-side policy-interest and they haven't tried to do terrorist attacks, but, insead, they have, only, asked for having a Statehood and a full membership of UN, and every one of us→

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Mike #3,
    the West Bank and Gaza are only 22% of Palestine .. and the Palestinians were 2/3 of the population of Palestine in 1947 and 90% in 1917.
    your idea that this 22% is too much and that Israel should keep more with Jordan and Egypt chipping in is strange.
    The Quartet demand talks ?
    Its Israel's rejection of the Quartet's Road Map requirement of a settlement freeze that blocks talks !

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The time has passed for talks. The Palestinian state deserves recognition. The UN's weakness and Obama's sycophantic Pro Israel speech has shown that the US and Israel aren't interested in progress, only oppression.

    Free the Palestinian people, and give them their own state according to the 1967 borders. For the sake of basic humanity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Theft is wrong. So how come theft of Palestinian land by Israelis is OK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Israel should be afraid of achieving their goal of appropriating all Palestinian land. Because then Palestinians will become Israelis and in a democracy, who do you think will rule? Israelis should know the 2 states solution is not the ONLY option available to the Palestinians, it just the preferred option. There is option of a single state solution that will see Israelis 'lose' after winning!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Throughout history, control of Palestine has switched through various rulers, most of whom achieved control though military might.
    To imagine that the the world is just going to 'give' the Palestinians the land they are asking for is stupidity of the highest order.
    The Palestinians already have land, if they want more they have to negotiate for it. Currently both sides are losers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Unfortunately with the US backing Israel and not being even handed (even a report from Harvard said the US foreign policy was skewed when it came to Israel) the negotiations have not progressed and I don't think they ever will. There is too much at stake for any US Politician to back the Palestinian cause when there is a very powerful Jewish presence in the US with all the voting implications.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Palestinians have been talking for over 20 years. What have they achieved? Loss of the land they plan to build their country on! I don't see why any rationale and fair person will advice them to continue talking! As the saying goes, it is madness to continue to do same thing and expect different result. This is why Palestinians needed to explore other options and why EVERYBODY need to support

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    as a german I say....Israel make peace, it is you who is preventing a solution in the middle east...and it is in your genuine interest, because when there is one thing in history for country can survive when surrounded by enemies...and the people of Palestine and Israel are so similar, if two people can live together, they can.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    So, what you're saying is that other countries should be required to provide their own land to compensate for Israel's deliberate and illegal policy of annexation of land and illegal settlements?

    The West seems to be great at saying that all countries should abide by UN resolutions and agreements Why should Israel be an exception to this and thumb its nose at world opinion or resolutions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    This war started thousands of years ago, created by a God who is far superior than any mortal. Does any leader really believe they can change these peoples religious attitude towards each other? How about just ban religion, include them into the same tribe, then they can live happily ever after.

    Two things cause wars religion and greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Israel and UN grabbing land? That's an ethnocentric vision. In line with multicultural approach it would be more appropriate, I think, to add to this notion that Palestinians grabbed Israeli land for many years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    If Israel is ever to have the peaceful co-existence with its Palestinian neighbours that it is always saying it wants, Israel must realise that the Palestinians also have rights to a homeland. It is a disgrace that Palestinians have been waiting 60 years for recognition. This has been a cancer in the Middle East for far too long leading to distrust of the West by the Arab nations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    The only real solution is a unified secular and democratic state. We can do it now, or do it later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I understand why the Palestinians ask Israel to allow them some land, but why not the other surrounding countries? If Jordan and Egypt could also be persuaded to concede even a tiny part of their land, the pressure could be taken off Israel, making resolution of this problem much easier to achieve.

    Both Jordan and Egypt have a powerful incentive, as they would gain peaceful borders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Talks have been going on for decades, and Israel just keeps grabbing land for settlements. Apparently the Western world's love for Arab Spring dries up when European settlers are the ones who need to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Sad. UN grabbed land of Palestinians more than 60 years ago. And seems that US would like to continue in it.


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