The United Nations and its diplomatic partners in the search for peace in the Middle East met separately today with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem, with both sides agreeing to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.
The so-called Quartet, comprising the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, were following up on a strategy they launched last month to bring the two sides together again following the breakdown in bilateral talks last year, barely weeks after they had started again.
Those efforts involve a series of steps and a timetable with the aim of reaching a lasting Middle East peace agreement by the end of next year, with today's separate meetings being the first phase to agree on the agenda and method for negotiations.
“Both parties expressed their readiness to engage with the Quartet, on the basis of its statement of 23 September, to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions,” the Quartet envoys said in a news release after the meetings, which were also attended by Quartet Representative Tony Blair, the former United Kingdom prime minister.
“The parties agreed with the Quartet to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months in the context of our shared commitment to the objective of direct negotiations leading toward an agreement by the end of 2012.”
The Quartet reiterated its call to the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective and agreed with the parties to meet regularly for the next 90 days to review progress.
The Quartet has for years been championing the so-called Roadmap, the internationally approved plan for a two-State solution in which Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
Israel has called on the Palestinians to resume bilateral talks without conditions but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not return to the table until Israel freezes all settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory.