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UN-backed ‘Quartet’ hopes new Palestinian government leads to renewed engagement

UN-backed ‘Quartet’ hopes new Palestinian government leads to renewed engagement

The United Nations and its key international partners in the Middle East peace process today expressed hope that a new Palestinian Government of National Unity would take steps to open the way for renewed engagement by the international community.

The so-called diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, comprising the UN, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States, conferred in Cairo in what UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Alvaro de Soto termed a “good” working-level meeting.

The Quartet, seeking a two-State solution, has frozen contacts, and donors have withheld contributions, pending a commitment by the Hamas Government to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept agreements already signed between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Quartet today reiterated a statement it made after a top-level meeting in September, welcoming Palestinian efforts to form a unity government in the hope that the platform of such a Government would reflect these principles and allow for early engagement, Mr. de Soto said. These include a commitment to non-violence and recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

He also hoped that such a Government could help to reduce the sort of Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel which today “tragically claimed” one Israeli life in the town of Sderot.

The Quartet discussed the security situation in the area where Israel’s shelling of the occupied Gaza Strip killed 19 Palestinian civilians, including eight children and seven women.

While in Cairo, Mr. de Soto intends to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and with Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.