Diplomats Fail to Agree on Reviving Mideast Peace Talks

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 12:10 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials say group of senior international diplomats has failed to reach an agreement on how to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a meeting late Monday in Washington with other members of the Quartet of Mideast peace mediators: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The talks ended without an official statement, but U.S. officials said there are still significant gaps about how to proceed and that more work needs to be done.

Ahead of the meeting, a State Department spokeswoman said the group is concerned about getting Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table ahead of a planned Palestinian bid to seek state recognition at the United Nations. That move is expected when the U.N. General Assembly meets in September.

Talks between the two sides have been stalled since September of last year, partly due to Palestinian objections to Israeli settlement construction on land they want as part of a future state.

Israel has denounced the planned Palestinian U.N. bid, saying it will shatter efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.

Also Monday, Israel's parliament passed a contentious law allowing settlers or businesses in the West Bank to sue Israelis who promote boycotts against them.

Opponents say the measure is undemocratic and a blow to free speech. Those backing the law say it is necessary to protect Israelis in the West Bank from economic boycotts against the settlements.