Middle East ‘Quartet’ supports US President’s call for international meeting
The Quartet’s backing came in a communiqué released following a meeting in Lisbon that was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
“The Quartet welcomed President Bush’s July 16 statement renewing US commitment to a negotiated two-State solution, and supported President Bush’s call for an international meeting in the fall,” stated the communiqué.
The Quartet agreed that “such a meeting should provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations in order to move forward on a successful path to a Palestinian State.
The Quartet welcomed Mr. Blair’s agreement to be its Representative and discussed with him “the urgent work that lies ahead,” according to the communiqué.
Noting the centrality of reform, economic development, and institutional capacity building to the establishment of a stable and prosperous Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians, and live in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, the Quartet urged the parties and all states in the region to work closely with Mr. Blair, and encouraged robust international support for his efforts.
The Quartet expressed support for the Palestinian Authority Government headed by Salam Fayyad, which is committed to the political platform of President Abbas. It also “encouraged direct and rapid financial assistance and other aid to the Palestinian Authority government to help reform, preserve, and strengthen vital Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, and to support the rule of law.”
The Quartet welcomed the resumption of bilateral talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, and expressed support for steps taken by the Israeli Government, including the resumption of tax and customs revenue transfers and the decision to release Palestinian prisoners.
The communiqué also encouraged continued bilateral dialogue and further cooperation and urged both parties to work without delay to fulfil their previous commitments and to build confidence.
Recognizing the continuing importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet looked forward to the planned visit to Israel by representatives of the Arab League to discuss the Initiative.
“The Quartet emphasized the need to find ways to sustain Palestinian economic activity and the importance of creating circumstances that would allow for full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, particularly in view of the impact of crossings on the Palestinian economy and daily life,” the communiqué said, encouraging parties to address their obligations under the Roadmap – an outline plan envisaging a two-State solution – including an end to settlement expansion and the removal of unauthorized outposts, and an end to violence and terror.
The Quartet expressed its deep concern over the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and agreed on the importance of continued emergency and humanitarian assistance.
The communiqué also reaffirmed the Quartet’s its commitment to bring about an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and to work to lay the foundation for the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security, as a step towards a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, consistent with the Roadmap and UN Security Council resolutions.
The next meeting of the Quartet will take place in September, the communiqué says, noting that members will continue to consult regularly on developments in the meantime.