Abbas: Lack of Quartet Statement a Bad Sign for Peace Prospects

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the lack of a statement from a meeting of the Middle East Quartet of peace mediators is a bad sign because it reflects divisions in how to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted Monday's “Quartet” meeting in Washington with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

No statement was issued after the talks. Representatives of the four nations and organizations meet regularly to try to kick start the dormant peace process.

Mr. Abbas said Tuesday that if the Quartet cannot agree on guidelines for Israel-Palestinian negotiations that are acceptable to him, he will go to the United Nations in September to seek full membership for a Palestinian state. He was speaking after talks in Ramallah with visiting Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

The United States, Israel and some EU nations oppose Mr. Abbas' plan. They say negotiations are the only way to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After the Quartet meeting, a senior U.S. official said participants believe that differences between Israeli and Palestinian positions are “impeding progress” in restarting peace talks that stalled last September.

The official said more work needs to be done before the Quartet can call for another round of negotiations.

Mr. Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel while it engages in settlement construction on occupied territories that Palestinians claim for a state. Palestinians say the state must be based on boundaries that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in May he believes a future peace deal should be based on “1967 lines” with mutually agreed land swaps.

Israel says its pre-1967 boundaries were indefensible and rejects setting any preconditions for negotiations on borders and other core issues of the conflict.