US: Quartet to Meet in Brussels to Discuss Reviving Mideast Peace Talks

Posted October 4th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States says the Quartet of Mideast peace mediators will meet Sunday in Brussels to discuss how to implement a new proposal for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that U.S. special envoy David Hale will attend the Brussels meeting with representatives of other Quartet members including the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. It says Hale will visit Berlin, Paris and London in the coming days to prepare for the Quartet talks.

In a September 23 declaration, the Quartet called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks within a month and to reach a peace deal by the end of 2012. The mediators urged both sides to make substantial progress on resolving disputes about territory and security in six months, but they did not explicitly endorse any terms of a peace deal.

Israel says it has accepted the proposal and welcomes the Quartet's call for negotiations “without preconditions.” But Israel also expressed some concerns about the plan, saying it will raise them at the appropriate time.

The government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says other parts of the Quartet statement require Israel to accept several Palestinian demands before negotiations can begin. Abbas aides say Israel must stop all settlement activity on land the Palestinians claim for a state and agree to base the borders of that state on boundaries that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the region Monday, urging them to take “bold action” to move toward a two-state solution to the conflict, saying there is “no alternative to negotiations.”

In another development, a former Israeli lawmaker who was a driving force of Jewish settlements in the West Bank died of cancer on Monday at the age of 67.

In 1974, Hanan Porat helped to found the Gush Emunim movement, which championed the establishment of the settlements as a fulfillment of biblical and historic Jewish claims to the land. He was first elected to parliament in 1981 and served as a lawmaker until 1999, except for a four-year hiatus.